22nd July 2015
Price promises made by broadband providers are misleading customers and costing them up to six and a half times more than adverts imply, Citizens Advice has claimed.
New research from the national charity finds that many broadband adverts draw people in with attractive discounted teaser deals which last for a limited period and mask the real long-term costs.
Hidden charges such as line rental, starter fees for a new contract and delivery costs mean on average monthly costs are over three times the initial price advertised.
Citizens Advice finds people are still paying as much as £20 more a month for their broadband package than advertised, even after factoring in the average monthly costs once promotional rates end, usually after six or 12 months of low cost broadband.
The charity analysed adverts from the six main broadband providers Over the promotional period broadband was advertised as costing from zero up to £20 per month. But the full cost ranged from £20 to £45 per month.
Line rental can add as much as £16.99 to the advertised monthly fee, making it the most expensive additional cost.
One offer for broadband at £9.95 for 6 months, worked out as £35.79 per month, once installation fees and line rental were factored in – over £25 more than advertised. Over the duration of the contract the customer will have paid £465 more than the advert suggest
Citizens Advice is highlighting how misleading broadband adverts can make it harder for consumers to shop around to get the best deal. The consumer charity is calling on broadband providers to be upfront about the price consumers will actually pay, and is asking the Advertising Standards Authority to introduce new rules ensuring broadband deals are transparent.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, says: “Broadband providers are cashing in on false promises. With some people paying up to six and a half times more a month for broadband than advertised, customers are being sold one thing and charged another.
“Confusing teaser rates and hidden costs make it difficult to work out whether you’re getting a good deal. Internet providers need to be upfront about broadband costs, ensuring adverts are transparent and people know what they’re signing up to.
“Some broadband firms are starting to accept that prices need to be clearer. Now the whole industry needs to up its game – and the Advertising Standards Authority should help by setting new, clear rules.”
But the charity says that some providers are making efforts to improve their advertising:
Relish, a newcomer to the industry, offers customers a clear “all in” price. It runs on 4G which means there are no line rental costs.
TalkTalk recently announced it was scrapping line rental fees for its own broadband network, offering customers in York an ultrafast connection at a single “all in” price. and is only available in that area.
Virgin media also offers an “all in” price in some areas.