Broadband providers told to stop misleading customers
Broadband providers will be making changes to how they present adverts, after The ASA tells them off for deliberately misleading customers.
Credit: Sean MacEntee – Flickr
According to a study by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) as much as 80% of broadband shoppers can't work out how much a broadband contract will cost them.
In an experiment that used adverts currently run by leading broadband providers, they found that only 23% could correctly figure out how much the cost per month was, and 22% still couldn't work out the price after seeing the ad for a second time!
We've all been sucked in by the message 'Free broadband!' when choosing a provider, but have you ever tried checking up on whether your contract really is free in practice? Yeah, us neither.
There's a tendency to just blindly trust providers, thinking they wouldn't be able to get away with scamming you off like that, but unfortunately this is never something you can rely on.
Sure, your monthly rates might be complimentary, but they've probably failed to mention the cost of their pricey line rental charges. Small print like this is dishonest, and makes it more difficult for customers to work out the best price available to them.
How are these ads misleading?
Credit: Creative Quarter
Luckily, the Advertising Standards Authority understands that this is a major issue and have got our backs!
They've highlighted some of the major issues they see with current ads, and how they need to be addressed. The issues they've drawn attention to are the following (amongst others):
- Failing to mention the price of line rental and connection fees
- Charging much lower introductory prices for the first month only (or sometimes even offering first month free) then raising the cost for the next 11 months, but advertising it as the first month price
- Hidden internet security costs of around £3 per month
- Charging postage fees to send a router to your home.
Dan Howdle, telecom expert from comparison website Cable commented:
This kind of pricing would tax a maths professor, let alone a consumer who just wants to find the right broadband deal for their household.
So for those of us who aren't maths professors, it's worth knowing that Save the Student has been unpacking these misleading broadband packages for years, and presenting them in our best value student broadband guide.
We know all too well that companies deliberately make these packages hard to understand just to get more money out of you. Make sure you check out our guide to avoid being caught out!
The new rules
The ASA are telling broadband providers they need to clean their act up by making deals much clearer for customers to understand, so they know exactly what they're signing up to.
From October 2016, under the new regulations all broadband adverts will have to:
- Include all inclusive costs so customers know exactly how much they'll be paying out each month
- Give greater clarity regarding upfront costs, e.g. postage fees, security costs, etc.
- Be clear and precise with regards to contract length and how much it'll cost once a discount period is over.
TalkTalk have already announced that they are scrapping separate line rental charges, so things are already looking up!
Tips on getting the cheapest broadband
Whether you're on the hunt for a new broadband provider for your new house, or just looking to switch – always compare providers to get the best price.
Luckily for you, we've taken all the legwork out of this process and compiled a list of the best value student broadband providers for you.
These are not just the 'cheapest' deals available, but the ones that offer the best combined value, when you take into consideration contract lengths, connection speeds, and everything else.
We spend a lot of time researching this list and making sure it's up to date, so you can be sure you're actually getting a good deal – check out our student broadband comparison guide here.