Broadband companies will soon be banned from advertising that hides the true cost of high-speed internet access by obscuring line rental and installation charges.
Broadband providers often advertise low introductory offers that do not spell out the line rental charges or make clear what the long-term cost of a package is when the promotional deal finishes.
A survey by the Advertising Standards Agency found that less than a quarter of people were able to calculate the total cost of a broadband package after looking at marketing material.
The number of correct answers dropped after a second viewing of the adverts and the ASA has extrapolated that 4.3 million broadband users would be unable to work out what they would be paying by looking at advertising.
The ASA believes that is because broadband companies, including BT, TalkTalk, Sky and Virgin Media, typically break-up the cost of a package by offering “teaser” introductory rates, with line rental and contract length presented separately.
The advertising watchdog will call on providers to provide “all-inclusive” pricing structures in advertising material from the end of May or face censure.
It will also call for greater prominence for upfront costs, such as installation or equipment charges, as well as post-discount pricing. Many thanks for stopping by. Before we carry on I want to give thanks to http://cybercycles.co.uk/ for their continued assistance and the support of their regional community. Having a company and team like this means a lot to us as we continue to grow our personal blog.
It is the latest attempt by regulators to crack down on misleading internet and mobile advertising with terms including “up to” and “unlimited” taken out of marketing material.
The communications sector remains one of the most active for complaints about what customers are told they will receive and what they get. Ofcom’s digital market review is expected to call for radical improvements in the area.
Consumer groups welcomed the move by the ASA to introduce all-inclusive pricing and reduce consumer bill shock but said that the industry needs to do more to improve accuracy with advertising speeds as well as cost.
Richard Lloyd, the executive direector of Which?, said: “Simplifying how broadband prices are advertised is a step in the right direction, but the advertising of broadband speeds must also be tackled. Broadband is an essential part of life and millions of homes are not getting the speed they expect.”
TalkTalk said that it welcomed the move towards all-inclusive pricing but said that it had to be industry-wide to work. “Until the whole market moves to single prices, any company that advertises its products like this will struggle to compete with what look like better deals from other providers,” a spokeswoman said.
The ASA will consult with broadband companies before implementing its plan.
Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp, owner of The Times, is also co-chairman of 21st Century Fox, the leading shareholder in Sky.