Citizens Advice shows broadband providers are baiting and switching with prices
In the wake of some serious price increases by the major players, new research from Citizens Advice shows that broadband providers are misleading customers with price ‘promises’ that mean some customer end up paying up to six-and-a- half times more than the adverts imply.
The charity found that many broadband adverts lure unwary consumers by offering “teaser deals” which last only a limited time, with the real and long-term costs of the deal hidden in the small print. The research showed that hidden charges such as line rental, starter fees for a new contract and delivery costs of new equipment mean that monthly costs are more than three times the price promise, on average, with some paying more than twice this.
Citizens Advice analysed adverts from the six main broadband providers over the promotional period looking at deals that were advertised as costing from absolutely nothing up to £20 per month. The research found that, in actuality, the full cost to consumers ranged from £20 to £45 per month.
Line rental was the most expensive additional cost, which Citizens Advice calculated can add up to £16.99 to the headline price alone. But that wasn’t the only added extra- one offer for broadband was advertised at £9.95 for six months, but once installation fees and line rental costs were factored in, the cost soared to £35.79.
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.” BT/Sky and Virgin in particular seem to take it in turns to tell tales on each other to the regulator for over-egging their customer offers. Still, with Citizens Advice weighing in, perhaps there is some light at the end of the transparency tunnel.