Research from Citizens Advice found broadband adverts draw in consumers with short-term “teaser deals”
Broadband providers are misleading customers by providing price promises but charging them up to six-and-a- half times more than the adverts imply, according to Citizens Advice.
The national charity found that many broadband adverts draw consumers in by offering “teaser deals” which only last for a limited time, masking the real long-term costs of the deal.
According to the research, hidden charges such as line rental, starter fees for a new contract and the delivery costs mean on average monthly costs are more than three times the price promise.
Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “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 up front 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.”
Citizens Advice analysed adverts from the six main broadband providers over the promotional period looking at deals advertised as costing from zero up to £20 per month. But the full cost ranged from £20 to £45 per month.
Line rental was the most expensive additional cost, adding as much as £16.99 to the monthly fee. One offer for broadband was advertised as costing £9.95 for six months,but worked out as £35.79 once installation fees and line rental costs were factored in.
Relish, which offers an all-in broadband package from £20 per month, also did research into the subject and found that 40 per cent of UK broadband users don’t know how much they spend per month.
“Many providers deliberately confuse consumers, using jargon to win their custom and offering ‘free services’ that disguise hidden costs and charges for routers and delivery. On top of this, customers are forced to pay a monthly line rental fee of up to £16.99 for a service most people do not want or need. These costs are rarely included by price comparison round–ups, so when it comes to the true cost of their broadband, people are left in the dark.
“There is a clear and intentional lack of transparency in the industry and this needs to change, starting with advertising that clearly explains the monthly costs and lengthy contracts associated with broadband packages. At Relish, we’re concerned this ambiguity is breeding severe distrust in Internet Service Providers, similar to what we’ve seen with utility services and banks.”