Insights Advertising Standards Authority confirms tougher approach to broadband price claims in ads.

The ASA has confirmed that it is strengthening its approach to advertised fixed broadband price claims to avoid customers being misled.  The new approach will come into force on 31 October 2016.

In January 2016, the ASA published joint research with Ofcom that found that the current approach to presenting pricing in fixed broadband ads was likely to confuse and mislead consumers about the cost of broadband services.

The research tested consumers’ likely understanding of the presentation of pricing offers in current broadband ads, including line rental.  Participants found it difficult to calculate the true cost of a contract when presented with these ads where the different elements, including broadband, introductory offer, line rental, contract length and one-off costs, were presented separately and some elements given greater prominence than others.

Only 23% of participants could correctly identify the total cost per month after the first viewing of the ad.  22% of participants were still not able to identify correctly the total cost per month even after a second viewing of the ad.  81% of participants were unable to calculate correctly the total cost of a broadband contract when asked to do so.

Since January, the ASA says that it has been engaging with industry and other key stakeholders, including consumer groups, seeking feedback on proposals to address the difficulties participants reported in the research, in order to agree on a new approach.

From 31 October 2016, this kind of broadband advertising is likely to break advertising rules.

In order for broadband providers to ensure they stay within the rules, the ASA recommends that future broadband ads that include price claims should:

  • show all-inclusive, up-front and monthly costs;
  • no more separating out line rental;
  • give greater prominence for the contract length and any post-discount pricing; and
  • give greater prominence to up-front costs.

To read the ASA’s press release in full, click here.