BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Recommends Comcast Drop Unqualified Claim that ‘CenturyLink Doesn’t Deliver,’ Finds Comcast Can Support ‘Fastest, Most Reliable Internet’ Claims

New York, NY – May 19, 2015  – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Comcast Cable Communications, LLC, modify certain claims made in broadcast advertising to more accurately characterize information from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) report “Measuring Broadband America.” NAD found that the advertiser could support claims that its Xfinity service “gives you the fastest, most reliable Internet.”

The claims at issue were challenged by CenturyLink, Inc.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

In this case, NAD examined claims made in television advertising that featured an exchange between a fictional CenturyLink salesman and a potential customer. The salesman explained that CenturyLink gives you “kinda good Internet.”

The potential customer replied that “the FCC Report shows you don’t deliver the speeds you advertise” as the following super appeared onscreen: “Based on 2014 Measuring Broadband America Report.”  The potential customers then said: “Xfinity does.  They’re reliable and fast … like that rabbit” as the commercial cut to a screen showing a hopping rabbit.

As the commercial closed, a voiceover stated: “CenturyLink doesn’t deliver … Xfinity gives you the fastest, most reliable Internet and the best in entertainment.  Get started with this offer (“$99/month for 12 mos.” appears on screen in connection with the “X1 Operating System package” that is promoted) and experience the X1 Operating System.”

The challenger did not take issue with the advertiser’s reliance on the FCC report or with its findings that Comcast delivers 100 percent or more of its advertised speeds at all hours of the day.  Rather, CenturyLink contended that the challenged television commercial failed to accurately characterize the FCC Report’s findings as to the actual speeds delivered by CenturyLink compared to those it advertises.  NAD agreed.

NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the unqualified claim “CenturyLink doesn’t deliver” the speeds it advertises.  However, nothing in the decision prevents Comcast from making an appropriately qualified claim of superior speed performance based upon the FCC Report.

NAD recommended that when making comparative speed claims based on the FCC report, the voiceover be modified to state “FCC Broadband Report” or something similar to more clearly identify the basis of the challenged performance claim and avoid the potential for consumer confusion.

NAD also determined that the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for its claim that “Xfinity gives you the fastest, most reliable Internet” and found that the claim “the best in entertainment” was puffery.

Finally, NAD determined that the “$99 a month” price for the package of Xfinity services was sufficiently identified as an introductory offer but recommended that the advertiser clearly and conspicuously disclose the offer requires a two-year contract.

Comcast, in its advertiser’s statement, said it will take NAD’s recommendations into account in its future advertising.