Skip Navigation


ASA rule that phone line rental prices must be included in ads
Wednesday 04 July 2012 12:10:02 by John Hunt

The ASA have revisited a previous ruling they have made in relation to adverts by Virgin Media which saw the company fail to mention in some instances the cost of phone line rental alongside bundle prices when there was a requirement for customer to take the phone line rental. Eighteen complaints were raised against the ads, and although the wording of the assessment and actions section has changed, the decision to uphold the complaints continues.

A further reaching impact of this ruling is now in place which will require industry to adapt their advertising practices which will require line rental costs to be displayed clearly alongside the most prominently placed pricing, with 3 months to bring marketing material in to practice.

"We understood that some consumers purchased line rental as a separate standalone service, for receiving incoming calls only, and therefore considered that line rental had a value associated with it in its own right, for which some consumers would generally expect to pay. On that basis, we considered that line rental was a non-optional, conditional service, as opposed to a charge with no intrinsic value which formed an inherent and inseparable part of the advertised bundled products, and did not need to be included in the overall price.

However, because line rental had some of the characteristics of a charge, we considered it was particularly important that its cost was stated sufficiently prominently. The line rental cost was not presented clearly alongside the most prominently stated bundle prices in ads (a), (b) and (c). In light of that, we considered that the ads did not make sufficiently clear the extent of the commitment consumers must make to obtain the advertised bundles and were therefore misleading."

ASA ruling

Whilst pricing clarity should be welcomed, there are some uncertainties about how this will be implemented. Some providers offer line rental at a reduced price if you pay for a year in advance which could lead to providers listing "Phone line rental required, from £9.50 a month" when standard line rental actually costs £14.50 when paid monthly. It's also not clear what broadband providers who do not offer line rental alongside their services should do as the line rental is a prerequisite to the service.

Comments

Posted by herdwick over 4 years ago
Have their been any rulings about ADSL ? The VM case is different in that the phone line is not a prerequisite technically for cable broadband, in fact it is a physically separate conductor. So here the issue is bundling services and charges / pricing.

With ADSL the phone line is a prerequisite technically, but many ISPs don't bundle phone rental or calls with their broadband.
Posted by john (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
I have enquired what the situation is there..
Posted by jrawle over 4 years ago
Surely the point is whether you have to take the ISP's own line rental to obtain the advertised price for ADSL. Yes, you always have to pay line rental, but my ISP for example offers no discount if you do so, so I'm free to take line rental from whoever I choose.
Posted by otester over 4 years ago
@jrawle

They could use lowest market price or there own.
Posted by chrysalis over 4 years ago
guys if you think our advertising is bad check what they get upto in america its unreal, from what I found the americans have no variant of the ASA.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 4 years ago
They could take the lowest market price or they could do the highest, which says including line rental 'up to' £14.50 ;)
Posted by gsituffers1 over 4 years ago
about time - i think personally as vm and ex sky employee the standard month by month rental should be listed within the price or when taken with line rental normally £XX.XX , and in offer details should be listed as £XX.xx = discounted if paid in full 1 year equivalent . well done asa - the end of misleading advertising - will save me about 3 hours of explaining adverts each day at work to new and existing customer looking at ours and competitors deals .thanks thanks thanks
Posted by awoodland over 4 years ago
With ADSL there's nothing technical stopping someone from selling "naked DSL", i.e. no POTS on the copper pair. It's be fairly easy for LLU providers to do now or BTW/OR to offer products. Of course the money to cover the maintenance/profit of the basic copper pair has to come somewhere so in reality it wouldn't be as cheap as simply subtracting the line rental.
You must be logged in to post comments. Click here to login.