The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has confirmed that it will be taking a tougher stance on the advertising of broadband services. From 31st October 2016 a new approach will be implemented to help avoid the possibility that broadband and associated bundle customers are being misled.
In this example BT ad I could find no explaination of the 'delta' symbol anywhere on the page
Earlier this year consumer research, undertaken with the help of Ofcom, revealed that the present approach to pricing caused confusion. With competing firms pricing their packages in different ways and these packages containing non-optional elements such as line rental, it was hard for people to predict how much money would be taken from their direct debits every month. Pricing was complicated further by introductory offers, one-off costs, and differing contract lengths.
In the Ofcom and ASA joint study over 80 per cent of participants were unable to correctly calculate the total cost of their broadband contracts. Thus the ASA has come up with a trio of recommendations for advertisers to implement so their communications stay within the rules.
From 31st October 2016, broadband adverts including pricing should:
- Show all-inclusive up-front and monthly costs; no more separating out line rental
- Give greater prominence for the contract length and any post-discount pricing
- Give greater prominence for up-front costs
An example Talk Talk ad screenshot taken today
In an email to HEXUS from cable.co.uk, telecoms expert Dan Howdie claimed that the ASA recommendations don't go far enough. Howdie said that "Even including line rental in the headline price, providers can and will continue to offer broadband deals that are, say, £22.50 per month for the first six months, then £34.50 for the next twelve, have internet security that's free for a month, then £3 per month for 17 months, have unlimited anytime calls that are free for three months then £5 per month for 15 months, a £35 one-off installation fee, a £15 line connection fee, a £1.89 fee for using your debit or credit card, and £6.99 for the postage of your router". He pointed out that such 'compound pricing', as previously used by the air travel industry, was outlawed throughout the EU last year and the same principle needs to be applied to the UK's broadband service industry.