Broadband charges made clearer

Ever been confused by broadband ads which don’t make it clear how much you’re going to pay?

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You’re not alone. That’s why Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has said that from 31 October 2016, broadband providers must change their advertising to make costs easier to understand. 

To stay within the new ASA rules, broadband ads which include price claims must now:

  • Show all-inclusive up-front and monthly costs and not separate-out the cost of line rental
  • Give greater prominence to the contract length and any post-discount pricing 
  • Give greater prominence to up-front costs.

How charges are currently expressed

The changes are being introduced because of concerns that consumers were being misled by price claims made by broadband providers.

Before the new rules come into effect on October 31, broadband suppliers were able to show all the different elements of the deal separately on their advertisements.

That meant ads could show any introductory offer, contract length, line rental and one-off costs individually, and providers were able to place greater emphasis on certain factors.

So, for example, some ads claimed their broadband deals were ‘free’ for an introductory period, despite the fact there were monthly line rental charges to pay.

Although these line charges were also be shown on the ads, it wasn’t necessarily clear that these were payable during the ‘free’ period.

Making things clearer

Joint research from the ASA and telecoms and broadband watchdog Ofcom found the old approach likely “confuse and mislead” consumers about the overall cost of broadband services.

Less than a quarter (23%) of people questioned could correctly work out the total cost per month after the first viewing of a broadband advertisement, the research found, while 22% still could identify the total cost after a second viewing.

More than eight out of 10 people (81%) failed to correctly calculate the total cost of a broadband contract when asked.

Kate Devine, head of broadband at MoneySuperMarket, said: “We welcome the ASA’s change to how broadband pricing is advertised.

“Broadband pricing is confusing, but from 31 October onwards providers will need to clearly show all costs in their headline prices.

“This means there will be no more ‘free’ broadband advertised when there is still a hefty £16-18 monthly line rental charge in the small print.

“Pricing should be easier to understand because of this move to ‘all in’ bundled pricing.”

Importantly, the change does not mean that, just because deals now show charges more clearly, prices have increased. Prices haven’t gone up – adverts now simply need to ensure the stated monthly cost includes the line rental.

Kate added: “It’s important to be aware of what this change means - it’s simply a bundling of prices to give greater clarity to what you will need to pay.

“The combined price could look higher than a low or free headline cost with the line rental in the small print – but be aware this change does not mean prices have gone up or line rental has been abolished.

“You still need a fixed line to connect most broadband to your house, and the rental charge for this service will still be part of what you pay the internet service provider - but it will no longer be listed as a separate cost.”

Switch and save

If your current broadband deal costs too much, or is too slow or unreliable, then it’s time to shop around for a better deal.

With MoneySuperMarket, if you give us your postcode we can show you which internet service providers are available in your area, with an idea of the speeds you could get, any usage or download caps and how much you’ll pay each month.

You can compare broadband deals here.

Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

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