Broadband providers have been given a six-month deadline to overhaul their advertising or face tougher sanctions after a consumer study revealed most ads are about as clear as a David Lynch movie plot.
Hardly a week goes by already without one provider being hauled up the ad watchdog, although most of the complaints are filed by rival firms.
But joint research by the Advertising Standards Authority and Ofcom into existing advertising found that 81% of consumers were unable to calculate correctly the total cost of a broadband contract when asked to do so.
Providers will now be forced to explain prices in plain English and bundle all associated monthly costs into a single comparable figure, including line rental, while also being clearer about any upfront costs.
They will also have to give greater prominence to contract length and charges applicable once introductory offers come to an end.
ASA chief executive Guy Parker said: “We recognise the importance of broadband services to people’s lives at work and at home. The findings of our research, and other factors we took into account, showed the way prices have been presented in broadband ads is likely to confuse and mislead customers.
“This new tougher approach has been developed to make sure consumers are not misled and get the information they need to make well-informed choices. We’ll support the broadband industry as they move towards changing their approach in time for the October 31 deadline.”
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