Talk Talk told to take down 'misleading' broadband adverts after customers complain

A telecoms firm founded in Yorkshire has been told to take down adverts promoting “fixed” two-year broadband contracts after customers were hit with a price rise.

The Advertising Standards Authority said Talk Talk should not say contracts are “fixed” and there will be no mid-contract price rises if that is not the case.

It comes after nine Talk Talk customers lodged complaints with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and claimed the adverts were misleading because the price of their broadband packages was due to rise during the contract period.

The company ran a TV advert in March 2022 for a fibre-optic broadband package, claiming it would cost £22.95 a month for 24 months and be “fixed until 2022”.

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It also sent out an email in January which said customers could “fix your broadband price at £17.95 for the next 24 months” and there would be “no mid-contract rises”.

According to the ASA, Talk Talk said “the price could be changed in accordance with their terms and conditions” and they increased the price during lockdown because broadband usage soared.

The ASA stated: “TalkTalk said the plans were designed and priced for a reasonable (pre-pandemic) environment such that consumers’ and TalkTalk’s expectations in paying a fixed price would be for a reasonable and normal usage of broadband.

“They believed it was reasonable to assume that neither consumers nor TalkTalk expected broadband usage, and the price thereof, to cover persistent long-term high usage as a result of lockdowns, including working from home, home schooling, being entertained and keeping in touch with friends, family and work colleagues.

“TalkTalk said their intent at the time the terms were created, and when the ads were made, was only to use the terms in exceptional circumstances, and they had not done so until April 2021.”

It added: “They believed the claims were justified and not materially misleading or likely to be misleading at the relevant times they were made.”

The ASA accepted a spike in demand during the pandemic was “unlikely to have been foreseen at the time the ads were seen” but customers had agreed to pay a fixed price for the duration of the contract and they “would expect that price to be honoured”.

It ordered Talk Talk to remove the adverts because they are “likely to mislead”, and said the company should not say contracts are “fixed” and there will be no mid-contract price rises if that is not the case.

Talk Talk has been approached for a comment.