THE UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled that broadband providers cannot state one price in an advert and charge people a heck of a lot more in practice.
This seems fair, and ISPs have had plenty of time to get used to it. We reported on the ASA's plans in January, when the watchdog said that ISPs must bundle upfront and monthly costs into one monthly price and ensure that line rental fees are included from May this year.
While the rules didn't come into force in May as planned, they are now in place, according to a blog post on the ASA website, and about time too.
"Anyone who sees price claims in an ad for a fixed broadband service should no longer feel they need a degree in maths to work out what it's going to cost and how it might compare with other services," the organisation said.
"Following our recent consumer research, which revealed the extent to which consumers were being confused about price claims, we set out a clear new approach to pricing. That approach comes into effect today."
The INQUIRER often reports on occasions when the ASA has been called in to sort out one ISP complaint from another, and we can see how clearer information might have an impact on the frequency of these disputes.
It would be fair to say that PR departments at communications providers have very little regard for advertising standards anyway. At least that is how it looks from here.
The ASA is a bit more positive than we are. "We've acted to bring greater transparency to broadband price claims in significant part because our own research told us that 81 per cent of participants were unable to calculate correctly the total cost of a broadband contract when asked to do so after viewing an ad," said the post.
"That's too high a figure. And we know from our complaints inbox, concerns among consumer groups as well as from government that this is an issue that people want addressed.
"This is a significant change that will provide much greater clarity. When we look at price claims in broadband ads from now on, we'll be able to have confidence that the figure quoted is what we'll pay. Comparing providers will be easier. Unexpectedly high bills will be less common."
Yeah, maybe. µ
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