Why the advertising watchdog is taking issue with broadband providers
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) announced this morning that it would be cracking down on misleading broadband price claims in adverts, but what's all the fuss about?
Here are the top three ways that broadband companies have been accused of misleading customers:
Too much mental maths involved
Let's be honest: nobody enjoyed doing sums sans calculator at school but broadband providers seem convinced we should give it another go. Research carried out jointly by ASA and Ofcom and published in January discovered that customers struggled to calculate the total cost of a contract when different components of the price, such as introductory offers, line rental and one-off costs, were scattered around the advert. Less than a quarter (23 per cent) of people shown adverts laid out in this fashion were able to calculate the monthly cost correctly at first glance. Unsurprisingly, the ASA is urging broadband providers to include all-inclusive upfront and monthly fees in their advertising.
Not minding the (speed) gap
In January, Ofcom raised concerns that the businesses purchasing broadband did not understand that there could be a substantial difference between the speed being advertised and the speed they'd actually be able to access. In particular, the study found that one in five (20 per cent) SMEs were less than thrilled with the broadband speed they had been lumped with.
Lack of standard formatting
Not only do people struggle to figure out overall costs when the important details are dotted around all over the place, it also, according to a study by Citizens Advice, makes it trickier to compare deals. The research by Citizens Advice, which was released last December, discovered that over half (56 per cent) of people were unable to choose the cheapest deal when shown two adverts. In light of what it discovered, Citizens Advice urged providers to include the cost of line rental in the headline figure.