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'Misleading' ads make it too hard to find the best broadband deal

Thursday, December 31st 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Misleading adverts are making it too hard for consumers to work out which broadband deal is the cheapest, a charity has claimed.

Research by Citizens Advice found that 56% of people are unable to pick out the cheapest deal when comparing broadband ads.

Those who are unable to work out the cheaper option are left up to £197 out of pocket over the length of a contract.

People taking part in the study were asked to compare two deals and to work out the price of a broadband contract from adverts and marketing material used on seven providers’ websites.

When looking at one particular broadband advert, only 1 in 5 were able to work out what they would be paying on average per month for a broadband deal.

Whilst most people understood that the headline price wasn’t the overall cost, only 22% were able to work out the correct average price per month.

Citizens Advice also found that three in four people (75%) find most broadband adverts too complicated to compare deals easily.

The charity is calling for the cost of line rental to be included in the headline price. Nine in ten British adults (88%) agreed this would make it easier for them to choose the right broadband option.

Citizens Advice CEO Gillian Guy said: “Misleading broadband adverts are hiding the true cost of a contract.

'Impossible to work out'

“Attractive headline offers that don’t include line rental costs make it impossible for people to work out the best broadband deal on offer without doing complicated sums.

“This stands in the way of people being able to make an informed decision about what internet package is best for them.

“A broadband market that works for consumers should be competing on the overall cost of the available deals rather than on how difficult they can make it for people to work this out.

“Broadband providers need to make the costs of a contract clear in their advertising and the Advertising Standards Authority should also review the code of practice to make sure it works well for consumers.”

Between August 2014 and September 2015, Citizens Advice helped people with 4,600 internet service provider issues through its Consumer Service.

Local Citizens Advice also helped people with over 3,700 internet and broadband problems in the same period.

Earlier this year, a Citizens Advice study found that average monthly prices are on average three-and-a-half times the initial price advertised. The charity accused providers of "cashing in on false promises".

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