Apparently Britons are struggling to work out the cost of broadband contracts - but don’t worry, it’s not entirely due to a lack of mathematical ability.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has teamed up with the communications watchdog Ofcom to censure broadband providers over the way they advertise their services.
According to research commissioned by the two groups, the current approach to advertising broadband is “likely to confuse and mislead consumers about the true cost of broadband deals”.
In a study involving 300 participants, only 23 per cent of respondents correctly identified the total cost per month of a broadband contract after the first viewing of an advert when asked to recall as much detail as they could about the offer. Meanwhile 22 per cent of participants were unable to correctly identify the total cost per month even after a second viewing.
The ASA and Ofcom said this would be equivalent to around 4.3m UK households being unable to figure out what they would be paying.
The advertising watchdog will now raise the issues with broadband providers with the aim of changing the way prices are advertised by 30 May.
“It’s essential we make sure people aren’t misled by pricing claims in broadband ads,” said the ASA’s chief exec, Guy Parker. “That obviously wouldn’t be good for them, but nor would it benefit broadband providers, because advertising works better when it’s trusted. We’ll now be moving quickly, working alongside broadband providers, to clarify the presentation of price information.”
Ofcom boss Sharon White added: “Ofcom wants to see clear and accurate broadband prices for consumers. Our research with theA SA shows many people are confused by complicated adverts and offers, so we welcome the ASA’s plans to simplify broadband advertising.”
UK broadband provider TalkTalk said it supports the Asa’s findings, and added that it has called on Ofcom to introduce “all-in pricing”.
“It's obvious that a single headline price is much clearer and better for customers, and we're actually already doing it on a pilot project up in York,” a spokesperson for TalkTalk said.
“But until the whole market moves to single prices, any company that advertises its products like this will struggle to compete with what look like better deals from other providers. We want Ofcom to be bold and tackle this problem in their strategic review and we would absolutely support them in doing so.”