The Advertising Standards Authority is considering new advertising rules for broadband providers, in order to make pricing more clear to customers.
It's looking to implement three key guidelines:
- Providers should give all-inclusive monthly costs upfront that don't separate out line rental
- Contract length and all post-discount pricing should be given more prominence
- Upfront costs should be made more prominent
The potential rules were put together following research that the ASA and Ofcom performed, in which they looked at consumers' understanding of broadband adverts. Their studies found that only 23% of participants could correctly identify the total monthly cost of a broadband package, and 74% felt that the information given about one-off and promotional costs was unclear. Change is needed, the two organisations concluded.
Ofcom chief executive Sharon White said: "Ofcom wants to see clear and accurate broadband prices for consumers. Our research with the ASA shows many people are confused by complicated adverts and offers, so we welcome the ASA's plans to simplify broadband advertising."
It's also proving popular among providers as well as its regulators. TalkTalk has welcomed the upcoming ruling, saying: "TalkTalk absolutely supports the ASA's findings and we've already called on Ofcom to bring in all-in pricing. It's obvious that a single headline price is much clearer and better for customers... But 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."
The Internet Service Providers' Association, the "voice of the UK internet industry", supports the rules too, but feels more research is needed. General secretary Nicholas Lansman said: "ISPA welcomes the ASA research into how consumers engage with broadband adverts, but believe that more detailed research is needed to corroborate the survey findings. Price is only one factor when a consumer chooses a service and the engagement with an advert is only one part of a purchasing decision - we urge the ASA to consider the whole customer experience."
The ASA will make its final decision on the ruling by 30 May 2016.