ASA to crack down on ‘misleading’ broadband adverts

New rules should make broadband deals easier to follow. Picture: Svyatoslav Lypynskyy

New rules should make broadband deals easier to follow. Picture: Svyatoslav Lypynskyy

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The Advertising Standards Authority is to crack down on broadband providers which it said are “misleading” customers about the cost of fixed-price internet services.

Research tested consumers’ understanding of the presentation of pricing offers in current broadband adverts including line rental.

It revealed that participants found it difficult to calculate the true cost of a contract when presented with adverts where the different elements – broadband, introductory offer, line rental, contract length and one-off costs – were presented separately and some elements given greater prominence than others.

Less than a quarter of participants could correctly identify the total cost per month after the first viewing of the ad and a further 22 per cent were still confused after a second viewing of the ad. Meanwhile, 81 per cent were unable to calculate correctly the total cost of a broadband contract when asked to do so.

Under the new rules, due to come into force on 31 October, firms will have to show all-inclusive up-front and monthly costs, stop separating out line rental and give greater prominence for the contract length and any post-discount pricing in their advertising.

Guy Parker, chief executive of the ASA, said: “The findings of our research, and other factors we took into account, showed the way prices have been presented in broadband ads is likely to confuse and mislead customers.

“This new tougher approach has been developed to make sure consumers … get the information they need to make well-informed choices.”

An Ofcom spokeswoman said: “We’re pleased that broadband prices will be advertised more clearly, which will help customers to shop around.”

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