Advertising watchdog slaps down EE as it claims it is the best

UK MNO EE has been told it can no-longer display adverts which claim it has the best network in the UK by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

With a series of posters, websites and social media posts, EE managed to irritate Three with claims it was the best network in the UK, being ‘unrivalled’ and ‘unbeatable’. Three suggested the use of RootMetrics awards were not relevant and the small print was either absent or insufficiently prominent.

Although not all the complaints have been upheld, the ASA has stated EE is not able to claim it is the best network around without more consumer-friendly measurements, while the claim ‘Number 1. Network’ can be interpreted in so many different ways it could be considered misleading.

The ASA statement reads (click here for full decision):

While we recognised the Rootscore [RootMetrics] report rated EE as the best mobile network operator, using various objective measures of their infrastructural network performance, because consumers could understand the claims “unbeatable”, “unrivalled” and “No.1 Network” more broadly to relate to the network operator and to take account of both objective measures of network performance and subjective consumer views of the service the mobile providers provided, we considered that EE should have made clearer that the claims “No.1 Network”, “unbeatable” and “unrivalled” related specifically to the report.

While the adverts cannot be used in their current form, and the telcos are regularly caught intentionally misleading consumers, this is one where you have to have a bit of sympathy for EE.

For those who are in the telecoms industry, the RootMetrics reports are perfectly adequate for measuring the performance of networks against each other. If EE was to make such as claim, using the report as evidence, at an industry conference, few would break stride. Looking at the most recent report on UK networks, EE won or shared the lead for all six categories measured by RootMetrics. OpenSignal, another testing company, crowned EE the champion in six of the seven categories, to further validate the claim, only losing to Vodafone for voice app experience.

On performance metrics, such as download speed, availability and latency, EE does regularly feature as the best in the industry, though this is apparently not enough to validate it in the eyes of the ASA.

UPDATE: 09/04/2020, 15:00. Statement from EE:

Our adverts clearly tell our customers that they’re on the UK’s number one network. We think that’s made explicit by the link to RootMetrics’ independent, nationwide testing of network performance, including coverage, speed and reliability. We are also frequently ranked number one for customer sentiment and have the joint best customer service of all mobile networks – we’re not just best for performance. We’ll be continuing this discussion through the ASA’s Independent Review process

One comment

  1. Avatar Michael V 10/04/2020 @ 7:37 pm

    EE being owned by British Telecom means they can put more money into their networks & having more LTE spectrum certainly has it’s advantages.
    But all four MNOs/Mobile Network Operators are the best when it comes to individual consumers for many reasons. For me, Three is great in terms of coverage between 4G data & 4G-voice / VoLTE networks where I live & travel.

    I get the whole Rootmetrics thing & opensignal, but there’s been other network testing companies that have named all four MNOs the best for some category over the last two to three years.

    If EE now have to stop boasting the UK’s best, they’ve only got themselves to blame for not making it clearer as to why.
    Things could certainly change when 5G is more widespread!

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