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Ofcom and ASA propose new ISP advertising rules

Posted by Sam Frances on Friday, January 29th, 2016 at 16:31

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has proposed changes to the rules on broadband advertising, following research which claimed that many customers had poor knowledge of the total cost of their services.

In a press release on 21 January, the ASA said:

While we remain open minded as to how pricing should be advertised so as not to mislead consumers, we will suggest to broadband providers that they advertise:

  • All-inclusive up-front and monthly costs; no more separating out line rental
  • Greater prominence for the contract length and any post-discount pricing
  • Greater prominence for up-front costs

We will decide on a final recommended approach on advertised pricing offers and communicate it to industry and the public before 30 May.

The research, jointly commissioned by the ASA and Ofcom, claims that 81% of those surveyed “were not able to calculate correctly the total cost of a broadband contract when asked to do so”.

In a summary of ISP opinions by ISPReview, some ISPs welcomed the proposals, while others were alarmed by the timing of the announcement and the small sample size of the research.

Gigaclear welcome’s this approach, it is something we have been using since this company started and is needed as there is a lot of confusion on what their monthly charges are as many believe they only pay the advertised price for broadband, not realising that line rental and some call features are additional monthly costs.
— Joe Frost, Head of Marketing at Gigaclear

At Entanet we think it is alarming that this ruling has been issued and is to be applied, at relatively short notice, after a woefully brief study that interviewed a mere 300 individuals across a wide demographic. Once again we also see decisions being made based on the actions and advertising clout of the largest consumer players while completely ignoring the way the broadband provision market works when you include the highly relevant smaller ISPs.
— Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing at Entanet

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