UK residents have lost trust in the advertising promises of broadband providers, a new study has revealed.
According to Broadband Genie, who surveyed about 1400 broadband customers over 18, more than 60% of people do not think advertising is honest. Most telecoms advertise with the phrase "up to" before the download speed. But these speeds are usually only reached by 10% of consumers, according to the Advertising Standards Authority.
In a separate question, broadband users were asked if they thought they had been misled. Just 40% said no. According to Broadband Genie, 74% of people who believed they were misled are pointing at download speeds as the main reason.
Some 34% of people were not happy with the cost being more expensive than they realised and 25% complained about unexpected setup fees and one-off costs. Some 5% were disappointed they did not receive a free gift promised to them during promotion.
Strategy head at Broadband Genie Rob Hilborn said it was important to make advertising as clear as possible. "There is still a lot of confusion around advertising within the broadband industry," he said. "It's a technical product and some of the jargon can confuse the average user. It certainly doesn't help that information on speed isn't accurate to the individual user."
"Trust in broadband advertising is a major problem, but the new rules coming later this year are definitely a step in the right direction. 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."
Hilborn is referring to a recent ruling from the Committee of Advertising Practices that broadband suppliers can only advertise speeds that at least 50% of consumers can reach. The changes must be in place by the May deadline.
In November, UK telecoms firms agreed to offer compensation for poor service, including for late setup and outages. UK communication's regulator Ofcom revealed that BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen Internet have agreed to the plan. These providers make up 90% of the network. EE and Plusnet are expected to join at a later date.
The scheme is not starting until 2019 because of complex changes required to online accounts and the billing systems. Ofcom said it was also working to lower charges and fine more telecoms for poor behaviour.