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“Misleading” broadband adverts hide true cost

“Misleading” broadband adverts hide true cost

Category: Broadband

Updated: 10/03/2017
First Published: 23/12/2015

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Do you find that broadband adverts are misleading? According to Citizens Advice, many of these adverts hide the true cost of the service and could leave consumers out of pocket, and there are calls for changes to be made.

The issue

In a statement released earlier today, Citizens Advice said that "misleading adverts are making it too difficult for most people to work out which broadband deal is cheapest". In fact, their research found that 56% of respondents would be unable to pick out the cheaper deal when comparing broadband ads, which highlights how confusing they can be.

If they aren't able to work out the cheaper option, consumers can be left between £7 and £197 out of pocket over the length of their contract, the charity warns, and many could be in for a shock: when looking at a particular broadband advert, only 22% were able to work out what they'd be paying per month for the advertised deal, which makes it difficult to compare offers.

This is largely down to the fact that the promotional period (which is often either free or significantly lower than the overall cost of the contract) is the feature that's advertised most prominently, with the cost of line rental and the length of time the "teaser" price applies often included separately or in the small print.

Consumers are left to work out how much they'll be paying for the whole contract for themselves, and as a result, they often think they'll be paying less than they actually will be: although most people understand that the headline price isn't the overall cost, only those 22% of respondents were able to work out the correct monthly price.

Action needed

It's perhaps no wonder that the majority of people (75%) think that the information in most broadband adverts is too complicated to compare deals easily, and Citizens Advice is calling for action. Specifically, they want the cost of line rental to be included in the headline price – something that 88% of respondents agree would make it easier to choose the right option.

"Misleading broadband adverts are hiding the true cost of a contract," said Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice. "Attractive headline offers that don't include line rental costs make it impossible for people to work out the best broadband deal on offer without doing complicated sums. This stands in the way of people being able to make an informed decision about what internet package is best for them.

"A broadband market that works for consumers should be competing on the overall cost of the available deals rather than on how difficult they can make it for people to work this out. Broadband providers need to make the costs of a contract clear in their advertising, and the Advertising Standards Authority should also review the code of practice to make sure it works well for consumers."

What next?

Don't rely on adverts: compare broadband deals using our comparison tool to get a clearer idea of the package that's right for you.

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.