NAD Recommends Comcast Discontinue Messages that Convey DirecTV Customers Face Unavoidable Price Hikes with DirecTV Choice Promotional Offer

New York, NY – April 17, 2018 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Comcast Cable Communications LLC, discontinue advertising that states or suggests DirecTV Choice customers will be subjected to unavoidable, substantial, and undisclosed built-in price increases when signing up for DirecTV Choice programming.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Claims made by Comcast for its Xfinity television service in television, radio and internet advertisements were challenged by AT&T Services, provider of DirecTV Choice.

AT&T challenged express claims that included:

  • The price for the DirecTV Choice package—the “$60 deal”— “jumps to over $100 after 3 months.”
  • The price then “jumps again to over $150 after a year”
  • The DIRECTV $60 offer “ends up costing” [or “could cost you”] over $3500 over two years.”

NAD also considered whether the advertising implied that DirecTV customers will be “caught off guard” by undisclosed, built-in price increases.

In the challenged television commercial, featuring two men throwing a football, the first man speaks of DirecTV’s latest “deal” – a term which, though left undefined, NAD believed to be the $60 a month for the first year and $150 a month for months 13-24 promotional pricing for DirecTV Choice. The football morphs into an increasingly larger asterisk as a voiceover states that the price “starts at $60 but jumps to over $100 after 3 months.”

As the voiceover states that DIRECTV’s latest deal ends up costing “over $3500 over 2 years,” the second man crashes through a glass patio door as he attempts to catch the now-huge asterisk.  The voiceover and onscreen text states “Don’t get caught off guard by DirecTV,” which, NAD found, served to reinforce the message that price hikes are unavoidable, automatic and unanticipated.

NAD determined that the message conveyed by the advertising at issue is unsupported, noting that a customer who signs up for the $60 offer will not experience a price jump to over $100 after three months and will pay $2,100 over the two-year contract period.

NAD noted that the price only increases to the amounts cited in the advertising if the customer enrolls in accompanying free-trial offers for premium cable channels or NFL Sunday Ticket and does not cancel. Further, NAD noted, the price increases are not automatic or hidden – a message NAD determined was reasonably conveyed by the challenged advertising.

NAD concluded that the messages reasonably conveyed by the challenged advertising – that customers subscribing to AT&T’s promotional DIRECTV CHOICE programming package will be subjected to unavoidable, substantial, and undisclosed built-in price increases – was without a reasonable basis and recommended they be discontinued.

Nothing in its decision, NAD said, precludes Comcast from advertising the full cost of an AT&T promotional “deal” over the course of a two-year contract, as long as the basis for the final total is communicated in a truthful and accurate manner and does not reasonably convey an unsupported message that the prices of the offers presented to customers by AT&T as “hidden,” “undisclosed,” or “unavoidable.”

Comcast, in its advertiser’s statement, said it would comply with NAD’s recommendations.

Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.