Comcast Should Stop Suggesting AT&T Dupes Consumers, Watchdog Says

An industry watchdog has told Comcast to revise TV and radio ads suggesting that AT&T lies to consumers about the speed and quality of their broadband service.

One of the ads, "Fairly Tale Support Group," features an AT&T sales rep sitting in a circle with a group of fictional characters -- including Pinocchio, the Evil Queen from Snow White and Chicken Little.

The characters briefly discuss their stories, with Chicken Little recounting the time she "told everyone the sky is falling, the sky is falling, and they totally went for it," and Pinocchio reminding the Evil Queen about the time she "gave Snow White the poisoned apple and told her that it was from the organic farmer’s market.”

AT&T sales guy then chimes in with: “I sold AT&T internet even though I knew it wasn’t the fastest or most reliable.”

A voiceover at the end of the spot says, "Face the facts, AT&T. Only Infinity delivers the fastest and most reliable internet."

The National Advertising Division, a unit of the Better Business Bureau, found that the spot "could reasonably convey" the message that AT&T's sales rep lied to customers.

"There is no evidence in the record that AT&T deceives customers about the speed or reliability of its service," the NAD wrote. "Accordingly, NAD recommended that Comcast discontinue the claim, express or implied, that AT&T deceives potential customers concerning the speed or reliability of its internet service."

The NAD also told Comcast to revise other ads challenged by AT&T, including ones that suggested AT&T promised speeds faster than it delivered. 

One of those spots, "The Boy Who Cried Wolf," also features characters from fairy tales sitting in a circle for a support group. In that ad, Chicken Little points to the AT&T sales rep and accuses him of "telling people everywhere they could get AT&T fiber, when it's really only available to, like, 10% of their customers."

Pinocchio then turns to the AT&T employee and asks if the telecom is hiring.

Comcast said that the ad was accurate, arguing that AT&T Fiber is only available to a small proportion of the country. The NAD agreed with Comcast about the limited reach of AT&T's fiber service, but found the ad problematic because it implied that AT&T dupes customers.

The watchdog said it recommended that Comcast "modify its advertising so as to avoid conveying the message, express or implied, that AT&T deceives customers as to the availability of AT&T Fiber."

Comcast plans to appeal the decision to the National Advertising Review Board.

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