NARB Recommends Verizon Modify ‘#1’ Claims to Clarify ‘Customer Satisfaction’ Basis

New York, NY – June 14, 2016 – A panel of the National Advertising Review Board (NARB) has recommended that Verizon Communications, Inc. modify “#1” claims for the company’s FiOS Internet and television service to more clearly communicate the basis for the claims.

NARB is the appellate unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
Verizon’s claims were initially challenged by Comcast Cable Communications before the National Advertising Division. Comcast challenged claims that included:

“In customer satisfaction studies FiOS is rated #1 in Internet speed … 8 years running.”

“TV service rated number one in HD picture quality … based on customer satisfaction studies ….”

NAD found that the challenged claims reasonably communicated a superiority message with respect to FiOS Internet speed and HD picture quality rather than the message that Verizon customers are more satisfied with their Internet speed and HD picture quality than customers of competing providers. NAD recommended that the challenged claims be discontinued. Verizon appealed that recommendation.

NARB, in its decision, noted that one of the challenged advertisements was “fast-moving, with objective speed claims made in parts of the advertisement and a visual that prominently links the #1 rating to Internet speed rather than customer satisfaction. In this context, reasonable consumers may very well take away a message that Verizon’s #1 rating is based on a comparison of objective Internet speed performance and/or a head-to-head comparison of different Internet service providers.”

In this case, the record showed that in PC Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Survey, Verizon FiOS received the highest rating in customer satisfaction with respect to Internet speed – a ranking that was not based on a comparison of objective Internet speed performance and/or a head-to-head comparison of different Internet service providers. The panel recommended that the challenged advertisement be modified to more clearly communicate that the higher rating with respect to Internet speed is a customer satisfaction rating based on consumers’ rating of their own Internet service providers.

Similarly, the panel recommended that the advertiser modify the claim “rated number one in HD picture quality … based on customer satisfaction studies ….” to more clearly communicate that the higher rating with respect to HD picture quality was a customer satisfaction rating based on consumers’ rating of their own Internet service providers.

Verizon, in its advertiser’s statement, said it will consider the NARB’s recommendations in future advertising and that it “appreciates the panel’s guidance in this matter.”