The ASA confirmed today that it’s bringing in new rules to make adverts for fixed line broadband easier to understand. The rules will come into effect from 31 October 2016.
The organisation now says that fixed-line broadband adverts that include pricing should follow three new key rules:
- The ad should show "all-inclusive up-front and monthly costs" - in particular, it mustn't separate out the cost of line rental
- It should make the contract length and post-discount costs more prominent
- It should also make upfront costs more prominent (such as connection fees, router costs, and so on)
Guy Parker, ASA chief executive, said: "We recognise the importance of broadband services to people's lives at work and at home. 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 are not misled and get the information they need to make well-informed choices. We'll support the broadband industry as they move towards changing their approach."
A lot of broadband providers like to use adverts to show off deals, which can include lower prices for the first few months of a contract - but research from the ASA and Ofcom earlier this year showed that this is just making things more confusing for the general public.
Separating out line rental, leaving out info like contract length, and not making one-off upfront costs clear has all made for a bit of confusion. Only 23% of people could work out the correct cost per month after viewing a broadband advert, and an even smaller 19% could correctly work out the full cost of a whole broadband contract.
Alongside the new ruling, TalkTalk announced that it will be the first broadband provider to end separate broadband and line rental pricing, and instead use all-inclusive "all-in pricing".
Tristan Harrison, TalkTalk Consumer managing director, said: "It's time for providers be honest about this - it's a bad habit we have all been guilty of, it doesn't serve customers well and it's time it stopped. That's why we agree with the Government, the consumer groups and the ASA."
Other providers are expected to follow suit soon too.
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