Misleading broadband ads dealt a serious blow

Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Ofcom have announced a new research which demonstrates how broadband providers are confusing consumers through partial advertising and not showing the true cost of a broadband contract.

As a result, the ASA will suggest broadband providers no longer separate line rental cost from monthly cost, give more importance to contract length and draw further attention to any and all up-front costs.

Telecoms expert at consumer mobile and broadband advice site Cable.co.uk, Dan Howdle, greeted the move, but said only half of the battle has been won today. According to Howdle, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

“The ASA’s findings focus on line rental as the primary issue. But the confusion around broadband package advertising does not solely exist because line rental is separated out – there are a plethora of additional hidden costs levied both during the purchase process and the lifetime of the contract.”

He adds that there is much more to be included in this discussion, like installation, router postage and so-called ‘connection fees'. The cost customers have to pay once the introductory period has ended is also something that needs to be considered, he feels.

“The only number that truly accomplishes all of that is the total cost of the contract from start to end (or at the very least the first-year cost including all one-offs and extras). The ASA’s recommendations stop short of enforcing complete transparency in this regard.”

“Acknowledging there’s a problem is half the battle – so half the battle has indeed been won today – but complete consumer understanding of broadband contract cost from billboard to checkout is still, it would appear, some way off."