National Advertising Division Recommends Charter Communications Discontinue or Modify Certain TV Commercial Claims for Spectrum Internet

For Immediate Release
Contact: Abby Hills, Director of Communications, BBB National Programs

703.247.9330 / press@bbbnp.org

New York, NY – June 15, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs recommended that Charter Communications, Inc. discontinue or modify certain comparative speed claims for its Spectrum Internet service versus AT&T, which appeared in its “Welcome Back Party” and “Great Offers” television commercials. 

The claims at issue were challenged by AT&T Services, Inc. and included the following express and implied claims.

Express Claim

  • “Spectrum has the fastest download speeds.”

 

Implied Claims

  • AT&T Internet is too slow for certain activities, including streaming.
  • AT&T does not offer speeds that exceed 200 Mbps.

 

In Charter’s “Welcome Back Party” commercial, NAD determined that reasonable consumers would take away a message that the only solution for AT&T internet customers who wish to stream exercise classes (like Peloton’s) is to switch to Spectrum’s internet service.

NAD noted that claims that denigrate a competing product or service must be truthful, accurate, and narrowly drawn and NAD found that “Welcome Back Party” did not meet that standard. NAD concluded that Charter did not provide a reasonable basis for claims implying that AT&T internet is too slow for certain activities, including streaming, and that AT&T does not offer speeds that exceed 200 Mbps, and recommended that such claims be discontinued.

Further, AT&T challenged the express unqualified claim that Spectrum has the “fastest download speeds,” which appeared in Charter’s “Great Offers” commercial. NAD determined that this claim communicates at least two reasonable messages, neither of which was supported by the evidence in the record. 

These messages are: 

  • Spectrum’s download speeds are greater on average than any comparable service offered by its competitors, including AT&T.
  • Spectrum offers a superior collection of speed tiers than its competitors. 

 

NAD also determined that in an advertisement referencing Spectrum’s 200 Mbps service with the unqualified express “fastest download speed” claim, one of the reasonable takeaways is that AT&T does not offer speeds of 200 Mbps or greater like Spectrum does. 

Therefore, NAD recommended that Charter discontinue the express unqualified “fastest download speed” claim in the “Great Offers” commercial, as well as the implied claim that AT&T does not offer speeds of 200 Mbps or greater like Spectrum does. NAD noted that, in the alternative, Spectrum may modify the claim to clarify that it is based on having the fastest download speeds at the introductory and intermediate levels and the equivalent download speed at the top tier.

In its advertiser statement, Charter stated that it “will comply with NAD’s decision.” Further, the advertiser stated that “as a strong supporter of self-regulation, Charter will clarify the basis for its ‘fastest download speeds’ claim in any future advertising to emphasize these faster speeds.”

All BBB National Programs case decision summaries can be found in the case decision library. For the full text of NAD, NARB, and CARU decisions, subscribe to the online archive.

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About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. The non-profit organization creates a fairer playing field for businesses and a better experience for consumers through the development and delivery of effective third-party accountability and dispute resolution programs. Embracing its role as an independent organization since the restructuring of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in June 2019, BBB National Programs today oversees more than a dozen leading national industry self-regulation programs, and continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-directed marketing, and privacy. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.

About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs provides independent self-regulation and dispute resolution services, guiding the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for advertising truth and accuracy, delivering meaningful protection to consumers and leveling the playing field for business.  

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