Broadband advertising shake up: How to find a good deal

New rules should make it easier to understand your broadband bill.

I’ve always been annoyed by the adverts promising you “free broadband” when really you have an array of extra costs to pay.

It’s misleading to say the least, with people signing up unaware of what they’re really paying. Worse, when the “free” bit of the deal ends, costs then jump up, making it difficult to work what you’re really paying.

When the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Ofgem looked into this in January they found only a quarter of people could correctly work out what they would be paying each month.

Fortunately, this all about to change.

What’s happening

From 31st October all advertised prices have to be “all in”. This means no more small print letting you know you also need to pay extra for a landline.

The adverts also need to be clearer on contract lengths and the prices you’ll be charged after any initial discounts. Plus extra up-front costs need to have greater prominence.

Is it a good thing?

In theory, yes. It should be far easier to work out what you’ll be paying, and from that compare the different providers.

Vodafone has already combined its charges, and  TalkTalk has done the same, getting ahead of the game in an attempt to shore up some goodwill after their year of nightmare PR.

Don’t believe any “free landline” claims, they’ve simply added both the costs together into one price.

>> The seven levels of TalkTalk hell

Do you still need a landline?

Short answer: yes. Though a few providers (Virgin Media is the main one) do offer broadband without a phone line you usually end up paying more than getting it bundled together.

I can’t wait for this to change. I think I’ve only used the landline proactively once this year. All my calls are through my mobile, and now so many people have unlimited minutes there’s little point using the phone. But that’s not the case for everyone. My parents still use their landline, though less and less as they get better mobile phone deals.

Will you still be able to get line rental savers?

This isn’t clear just yet. TalkTalk has stopped offering its value line rental discount, and it could be we see other providers follow their lead.

However, I don’t see any reason it can’t be offered as an extra discount, as long as it’s not factored into the initial monthly price.

What about pay tv charges?

Again, it’s a bit too early to say. TalkTalk is offering combined packages with and without TV, rather than as extras on top of the phone and broadband bundle.

What about speed promises?

Broadband speed is a huge frustration for consumers. The ads promise up to 38MB, but iPlayer still buffers and pages take ages to load. Sadly those promises aren’t covered by these new rules, but the ASA are looking into the way speed is presented in adverts. Hopefully, there will be more on this soon.

How to find a good broadband deal

I’ve written about how to do this step-by-step in detail elsewhere, but the main points to consider are:

  • Are you out of contract? If so you can switch to a new deal elsewhere
  • Are you paying for more than you need? Cut back if you don’t use it
  • Will your current provider give you a discount for staying?
  • Can you get cashback from the likes of Quidco or TopCashback?
>> Want to switch phone and broadband provider? Read my guide to getting the best deal


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