Advertising watchdog bans hidden broadband fees

Tom Wilson
31 October 2016

Finding the best value broadband contract will become much easier from today, thanks to new rules from the advertising authorities that compel providers to show costs inclusive of line rental charges.

Until now, most providers advertised tariffs excluding the cost of line rental, typically meaning advertised costs were around £18 a month lower than the true cost.

The change was announced earlier this year by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), in the light of research it conducted with the telecoms regulator Ofcom, which found that found four out of five consumers couldn’t work out what they’d pay for a their internet connection after watching a broadband advert.

From now on, broadband companies need to show all monthly costs and prominently display the contract length and any scheduled mid-contract price hikes, which often come in the form of a 12-month initial discount. They will also need to be clear about any upfront costs, such as delivery fees, activation fees or installation fees.

Guy Parker, the ASA’s chief executive, says: “Broadband is a service we all take for granted. That’s why some people can get frustrated when they sign up to a package after seeing an ad, only to find their bills are higher than expected.

“Our research found people are likely to be confused and misled by the fixed broadband price claims in ads they see and we’ve responded by tightening our approach. The effect should be a real positive difference in how consumers understand and engage with ads for broadband services.”

Some broadband companies included line rental in their advertised prices ahead of the ASA’s rule change, such as Vodafone’s switch to all-in pricing in August.

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