Advertising Watchdog Clamps Down on Misleading Ads

January 26, 2016

Lucy_2 (Custom)By Lucy Palmer-Richeson.

The ASA (Advertising Standards Agency) is set to crack down on misleading broadband advertisements after joint research with Ofcom found that the majority of people are unsure how much they are supposed to pay after watching an ad, and that the ads were likely to “confuse and mislead” people.

The ASA will introduce new rules from May 30th and say that companies will likely be breaking the rules if they do not clearly separate line rental costs from broadband costs when advertising their products. Right now, many firms advertise broadband as free and fail to disclose the weighty price tag for line rental, something costumers are forced to sign up for.

The firms affected by the crackdown include Virgin Media, TalkTalk, 3, O2, EE, Sky and BT.

The research by ASA and Ofcom found that 81% of customers were unable to ascertain how much the broadband contracts cost, and that after a second viewing of the ad 22% were still confused about how much they were supposed to pay.

Citizens Advice, who back the ASA decision, said that their research published last year found that customers could pay up to six and a half times more a month for broadband than the price advertised.

Guy Parker, chief executive of the ASA, said: “It’s essential we make sure people aren’t misled by pricing claims in broadband ads. 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.”

The ASA said that whilst it will be publishing new rules, it will remain flexible about how pricing will be advertised after May 20th, but it suggests that firms are open about information about contract length, any upfront costs or post-discount pricing, and that line rental is no longer made a separate cost