The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus found that Cox Communications provided reasonable support for certain claims that Cox made in regard to the company’s data service, but it said Cox should be more upfront in the future about the limitations of its PowerBoost feature.
NAD become involved after Qwest Communications complained about claims Cox was making in its advertising campaigns – specifically Cox’s claim that PowerBoost provides “an extra burst of speed up to twice as fast as Qwest’s fastest DSL.”
NAD’s report recommended that Cox, the nation’s third-largest cable operator, “clearly and conspicuously disclose in future advertising a limitation of PowerBoost,” including that it provides a burst of speed for the first 18 to 22 megabytes of a file download.
NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, found that Cox acted appropriately in discontinuing certain claims to avoid conveying the unsupported message that challenger Qwest requires all of its customers to sign long-term contracts. The advertiser asserted that those claims were permanently discontinued prior to the filing of the challenge.
In addition to download speeds, the challenged advertising claims, which appeared in television, print and on the Internet, related to Qwest subscription plans and customer service.
NAD said in its decision that it would be “nearly impossible to convey in an advertisement the full array of factors that might affect a consumer’s download speed. It is because of this that ISPs (including Cox) include necessary disclosures, such as ‘actual speeds will vary.’”
NAD recommended that Cox qualify future “up to” claims regarding the maximum speeds available with PowerBoost by clearly and conspicuously disclosing that PowerBoost provides a burst of speed available for the first 18 to 22 megabytes of a file download.
“Cox is pleased with the decision of the National Advertising Division, which concluded that PowerBoost technology provides a meaningful benefit to Cox high-speed Internet customers, and that the PowerBoost claims in our advertisements were substantiated,” Cox said. “We appreciate the division’s careful consideration of the issues raised in this matter and will take into account NAD’s recommendations in our future advertising.”