/ 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?

Comments
Profile photo of william
Member

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.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

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.

Profile photo of rarrar
Member

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 .

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

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. 🙂

Profile photo of Catherine West
Member

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?

Profile photo of rarrar
Member

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

Profile photo of Catherine West
Member

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…

Profile photo of rarrar
Member

“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?

Profile photo of ArgonautoftheSeas
Member

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).

Profile photo of xrayspex
Member

“OUGHT to have known”? One can often buy Broadband alone from an ISP whilst still keeping your line rental with another supplier, usually BT.

Member
Robert says:
9 May 2012

So if the full price should be shown as prominently as the offer, where does Which? stand with their “Sign up for £1” offer? Is this not a bit of double standards? On the home page of this website there is not even an asterisk or small print to be seen.

Profile photo of Charlotte Fitzgerald
Member

Our initial sign up cost is £1 for your first month. If you continue your membership after the trial, you’ll pay £9.75 per month. We include this info on our sign up page https://www.which.co.uk/signup. Ultimately the £1 is a trial offer, which has no other tie ins (unlike the £12.85 line rental). But you’re right to flag Robert – we always like to know we’re offering you all the correct details up front so you can make an informed decision.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

What Which? is offering is clear to me and if other organisations did the same then there would be little risk of confusion.

My criticism is that by default, Which? will send information about products and services. That should be opt-in and not opt-out, even though the information could be more useful than some of the junk sent to customers.

Profile photo of rarrar
Member

The only criticism of the Which? offer is you can sign up online but cant cancel online, not really a problem but I do think as a matter of principal if you offer something online , emailor in writing you should also allow cancellations by the same method.

Member
Sheri says:
11 May 2012

Oh, don’t get me started on misleading broadband ads! I made the HUGE mistake of signing up to BT Broadband in February 2012, believing that it would be free for the first 4 months as per their TV and online adverts. But it was only the Broadband that was free for the first 4 months and the line rental was payable from day one!

Not only that but they failed to stop my phone line being taken over by Sky despite the fact that I’d cancelled my Sky application before its activation date and had notified BT that Sky should not be allowed to perform the working line take-over. And it took BT a whole month before they could reconnect my phone line! Plus I had to be given a new telephone number.

Then in month 3 they sent me a bill for £63.35 instead of the contracted £14.60 bill I should have received and it took me over 2 hours on the phone to get them to admit the error and correct it! So signing up with BT was the WORSE thing I’ve ever done in my life bar none!

Profile photo of chris charles
Member

Hi Catherine,

Direct Save Telecom’s £2.49 offer represents, in our opinion, the UK’s best value broadband and free calls deal over 24 months. Yes, you do need to take our line rental at £12.85 per month but that is also a great deal for consumers and members of Which. The Which comparisons provided via the Which website for some reason do not include Direct Save Telecom’s tariffs despite the fact that we are currently the cheapest over 24 months.

Direct Save Telecom’s line rental is also amongst the cheapest in the country, for example Direct Save Telecom charge £12.85 per month whereas BT (£14.60), TalkTalk (£14.50), Virginmedia (£13.90), Tesco (£13.75) and Plusnet (£12.99).

To answer your question, the reason we advertised a £2.49 headline is because it seems to be standard industry practice, it doesn’t make the headline less true, it’s a genuine deal. We are more than happy for Which to display our inclusive line rental and broadband price of £15.34 as it will still be the UK’s best value deal for consumers.

Which provides a very good service in the UK being impartial and trusted and I’m certain Which will add Direct Save Telecom tariffs soon.

Chris Charles, General Manager, Direct Save Telecom

Profile photo of Catherine West
Member

Hi Chris,

Thanks for commenting. Hopefully it’s clear that it’s the standard industry practice in terms of advertising I have issue with, rather than Direct Save Telecoms’ deal in particular. As you suggest above – where line rental is mandatory – we do include it in the package costs we use in our broadband review.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Chris

If you can offer a better deal compared with other companies, why not set a better standard in advertising too? You could also set your company above the rest by giving honest information about average connection speed rather than the usual ‘up to’ nonsense.