UK ISPs must now include line rental in broadband price advertising

Internet service providers (ISPs) from today will be legally obligated to include line rental cost in the advertisement of broadband across all forms of advertising.

Following on from a ruling passed by the the Advertising Standards Autority (ASA) in May, ISPs must now be much more upfront with customers about the full costs of packages that they are marketing. 

The rule has come into place from today and many companies had already made the change to their pricing marketing. At the time, TalkTalk said that it would "move toward a single monthly cost including line rental, known as ‘all-in pricing,’ which will come into effect this autumn."

TalkTalk, along with BT, Hyperoptic, Sky and Virgin Media have updated their websites with all-inclusive pricing; but as Ars Technica has found, several ISPs have not yet made the change. Chief among them is Plusnet, while smaller providers such as Zen, Andrews & Arnold and the Post Office have not updated their websites.

There had been a fear that some ISPs might use this as an opportunity to quietly change the total price of broadband packages, but it would seem that none of the major providers have dramatically increased or decreased prices. 

The ASA’s actions came after research from 300 participants was published stating that consumers are regularly misled by ISPs’ presentation of prices. Nearly a quarter of the participants failed to identify the total cost of a broadband deal after viewing the adverts twice. 

ISPs were quick to attack the plan, claiming that the sample size of the research wasn’t big enough.

Nicholas Lansman, the secretary general of the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA), said: "Price is only one factor when a consumer chooses a service, and the engagement with an advert is only one part of a purchasing decision."

The ASA’s chief, Guy Parker said: "We recognise the importance of broadband services to people’s lives at work and at home. The findings of our research, and other factors we took into account, showed the way prices have been presented in broadband ads is likely to confuse and mislead customers.

"This new tougher approach has been developed to make sure consumers are not misled and get the information they need to make well-informed choices."

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