“There is much confusion around advertising within the broadband industry,” Rob Hilborn, head of strategy at Broadband Genie, has said. “It’s a technical product, with the sector making use of a lot of jargon. It certainly doesn’t help that home broadband advertising has been found to be inaccurate.”
His words are based on Broadband Genie’s own research, which discovered “a worrying amount of uncertainty around basic technical aspects.” Some 74 per cent of its 1,384 UK respondents felt misled by speed claims.
That the price was more expensive than expected was brought up by 34 per cent. Hand-in-hand with such complaints, 25 per cent of Brits pointed out that they were made to pay unexpected setup fees. A small proportion even claimed that free gifts cited in adverts were never included in the actual package.
Further delving into the results, the company’s editor, Matt Powell, explained: “Brits feel that services don’t live up to marketing promises. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is certainly kept busy with complaints about broadband.
“In the previous year, Sky was hit with an advert ban for claiming its broadband was ‘super reliable’. BT also got a dressing down for marketing that starred Ryan Reynolds, where it boasted having the ‘UK’s most powerful Wi-Fi signal’.”
Given the amount of complaints, the ASA paired up with the Committee of Advertising Practice to publish a new set of standards that broadband advertisers will have to adhere to from 23 May 2018.
Both authorities looked to see the removal of wording such as “up to”. The oft-used “average speed” line will become based on the download speed achievable by 50 per cent of customers during peak time – between 8-10pm.
“Trust in broadband advertising is a major problem, but the new rules are a step in the right direction,” Hilborn added. “Consumers will start to see a more accurate representation of the speeds actually available to their homes and businesses, hopefully restoring trust between provider and consumer.”
Powell did suggest, however, that confusion didn’t stop at advertising as 29 per cent of respondents were unsure what they were buying. A small number didn’t know the type of home broadband they had either.
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