/ Money, Technology

Is a £2.50 broadband deal too good to be true?

An email recently popped into my inbox claiming to offer a ‘recession-busting’ broadband deal that would mean customers would ‘only pay £2.49 per month for the entire life of the contract… no gimmicks, just real value’.

Sound too good to be true? Well it is.

Read on a few more lines and you’ll see that this is actually subject to taking Direct Save Telecom’s – the company advertising the deal – line rental at an additional £12.85 a month. This means you’ll actually have pay over £15 a month.

In the grand scheme of things, this still isn’t a bad price – so why do companies insist on using these silly headline figures?

Misleading headline broadband prices?

It brings me back to my old bugbear – misleading broadband advertising. Steps have now been taken to cut down on the misleading speeds being bandied about, as well as the deals that are advertised as having ‘unlimited’ usage when in fact there’s a ‘fair usage limit’.

But perhaps it’s time to take a little look at misleading headline prices too?

I’m not picking on Direct Save Telecom in particular; this is a pretty common occurrence in the way broadband packages are advertised.

Log on to most providers’ websites and you’ll be presented with a cheap figure riddled with asterisks that point you to the small print that applies. This can be anything from compulsory line rental, to the price going up after a couple of months.

In fact, Tesco Broadband is also advertising a £2.50 per month broadband and home phone package. There are a couple of caveats – it only lasts 12 months (after this, it goes up to £6.50) and you’ll have to take out Tesco’s line rental at an extra £13.75 a month.

To be fair to Tesco, it makes the first point pretty clear, but the line rental is slightly harder to spot on first glance.

Looking past the small print

I’m not suggesting that broadband deals should actually cost just £2.50 a month –I don’t think anyone really expects it too. The point is; why do they advertise it as costing this much? Not only is it confusing, it makes it very hard to compare prices between providers when you’re trying to pick a good deal.

Are you happy to search through the small print when you see a cheap broadband deal? Or do you think providers should be more upfront about the true cost of their deals?


Even though I think this type is tactic is deplorable, I still blame the regulators and the law makers for not having much stricter laws in place to prevent this kind of behaviour.

Its on a par with the small print you cant see on TV ads as they use white writing 9 times out of 10 against a light background, so I suspect they’re convinced they’ve done their bit as far as any regulations go, but is not really any use to the end user.


I suggest that the full price should always be shown alongside the discounted price and not in tiny print. I am surprised that the partially sighted do not file complaints about disability discrimination.


I think advertising anything prominently which cannot be bought as a separate entity should be banned.
Similar to quoting low prices which only apply for a few months and tie you into a long contract .


All this and more was going to be available in Tesco Utopia but that has been shelved. We will have to carry on with the wishful thinking. 🙂


Great to see the ASA taking action on misleading headline prices today http://www.which.co.uk/news/2012/05/virgin-media-ads-misleading-says-regulator-285567/. Hopefully we can start to challenge ‘industry standards’ that are misleading. If there’s an additional cost that is compulsory, why should it be hidden in the small print?


But the ASA has hardly any powers – they cant actually ban an advert or levy fines.


The ASA have said the ads must not appear again in their current form and that all non-optional fees are included in the quoted headline prices in future. I do agree that this is something we need to look at on a wider scale though…


“ASA have said….”
They might say this but they cant enforce it.
There is always the option of changing the advert slightly; when did a company ever use the same advert more than once anyway?


One reasonably OUGHT to have known line rental
charge is not included and I can’t take
issue with advertiser on failure to mention in the wording
of their headline ad (but then I’m apt to read the small print
wherever appearing/made available in any event).