RIP brain-numbing broadband adverts

How did you choose your broadband provider? Was it a pleasant process?

Virgin broadband ad with Usain Bolt and David Tennant

Virgin broadband ad with Usain Bolt and David Tennant. Image via YouTube

The advertising standards authority (ASA) has begun a crackdown on misleading broadband ads after four out of five consumers could not work out what they would have to pay.

The ASA said ads from Virgin Media, Sky, BT, EE, 3, O2 and TalkTalk, had all misled customers and would have to change.

New advertising rules will come into force in May after the ASA’s research found that 81% of consumers were confused by broadband deals and did not know how much they would have to pay.

The ASA said that if this was true across the whole UK, it would mean that 4.3 million people would not know how much they are paying for internet access at home.

The problem with ads is the brain-numbing array of prices and the multitude of features that are on offer in adverts.

There is the cost of the broadband itself, then there is also the cost of the line rental, and often a plethora of additional features, price and contract options and introductory offers.

This kind of choice overload is surely enough to reduce most humans to simply pointing at the colour schemes they like most.

ASA chief executive Guy Parker said: “It’s essential we make sure people aren’t misled by pricing claims in broadband ads. We’ll be moving quickly, working alongside broadband providers to clarify the presentation of price information.”

The changes have been welcomed by communications regulator Ofcom. Chief executive Sharon white said: “Ofcom wants to see clear and accurate broadband prices for consumers.”

“Our research shows many people are confused by complicated ads and offers. We welcome the ASA’s plans to simplify broadband advertising.”

Last year the ASA received 730 complaints about 555 broadband ads.


TalkTalk contacted London Loves Business to say they welcomed the ruling. A spokesperson said: “TalkTalk absolutely supports the ASA’s findings and we’ve already called on Ofcom to bring in all-in pricing. 

“It’s obvious that a single headline price is much clearer and better for customers, and we’re actually already doing it on a pilot project up in York. 

“But until the whole market moves to single prices, any company that advertises its products like this will struggle to compete with what look like better deals from other providers. We want Ofcom to be bold and tackle this problem in their strategic review and we would absolutely support them in doing so.”

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