A Sky+ advert that mocks Virgin Media's apparent practice of offering good deals only to new customers has been attacked by the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority). Because… you guessed it… because Sky offers certain deals only to new customers.
Some companies are just worth keeping an eye on, and Sky and Virgin can keep me entertained for, ooh, seconds. It's only days since Virgin announced its latest strategy by, er, measuring itself against its great enemy Sky+. And now the TV behemoth is in the news of its own accord.
The Sky+ advert said (with no little hubris): "It's wrong to advertise attractive-sounding prices that are often only available to new customers." And it included details of some Virgin Media deals.
Well, I agree. And so does the Sky-subscribing woman who complained to the ASA because Sky told her she'd pay £159 for a Sky+ box. New customers pay only £49. Ouch.
And she was far from a lone crank. Four other people were moved to contact the ASA to point out special offers they'd seen from Sky, offering Sky+ boxes for less to new customers than to stalwart Sky-lovin' couch potatoes.
And it turns out that it's all about Virgin. Again. In response to the ASA's complaint (and in the face of the immediate evidence), Sky said its prices were the same for new and existing customers and that Virgin Media often offered better deals for new customers than for boring old existing ones. So there.
Sky also pointed out that new and existing customers pay the same standard prices for Sky subscription services and satellite equipment.
To no avail. In a statement the ASA concluded that Sky was in breach of the ASA's code of conduct: "Because existing Sky customers were not able to take part in some offers, we considered that that contradicted the claim 'we think it's wrong to advertise attractive sounding prices that are often only available to new customers'.
"We were also concerned to note that, whilst Sky did not include their special offers in the comparison, they had included special offers made by Virgin Media to new customers, including some that were time limited," the statement continued. So you won't be seeing that ad again. But I suspect we'll see some more Virgin/Sky mud-wrestling before the year is out. Why can't they just play nicely?