As of 31 October 2016, the ASA has strengthened its approach to the advertising of fixed broadband pricing claims to ensure that consumers are not being misled.
Earlier this year, the ASA published joint research with Ofcom which found that the typical approach adopted by broadband providers when promoting price claims often led to confusion. Participants struggled to locate and understand all the pricing information they required to work out the total cost of the service and often stated a figure that was less than the amount they would actually need to pay.
In light of the research, the ASA concluded that broadband ads including pricing claims need to convey the full commitment that a consumer needs to make in order to purchase the service. Using insights from the research, the ASA has determined three ‘Key Principles’ that, if followed, are likely to produce ads that are in line with the Advertising Codes.
In essence, the Key Principles advise that broadband pricing claims should clearly communicate to consumers any applicable up-front costs, the monthly cost of the service throughout the length of the contract, and how long they are committed for.
To meet the Key Principles, advertisers should make sure that:
1. They present all the compulsory elements of a customer’s total financial commitment – the up-front costs, the ongoing monthly cost and the length of the contract – in close proximity to one another, without placing undue emphasis on any one element.
2. They reduce the number of individual price claims by, wherever possible, consolidating all applicable one-off costs and, where line rental is offered by the provider, line rental and broadband costs.
3. If an introductory discount period applies to one element of the cost - such as half price broadband for a limited period – the ad needs to make clear the total monthly cost that will apply both during and after the discount period, and for how long.