back to article BT's 'six-month free broadband' offer is a big fat FIB - ads watchdog

BT misled customers by wrongly claiming that one of its broadband products was "free for six months", says Blighty's ad watchdog. This is the second time this year the national telco has been scolded by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The offending press advert boasted that "the UK's most complete broadband package …


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  1. Richard 81

    And how much will BT be fined?

    Oh, I see.

    1. tmTM

      Re: And how much will BT be fined?

      A good and proper gumming by the ASA has been delivered.

      Not enough for you?

    2. Andrew Moore
      Thumb Up

      Re: And how much will BT be fined?

      A great fine would be £5,000 and underneath in the small print "Price shown does not include £2,000,000 handling charge"

    3. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: And how much will BT be fined?

      The ASA has no authority over anyone. There will be no fine. That's actually a good thing because the ASA is as inconsistent as it is toothless. Still - in my opinion anyone who believes what they read in an advert is on thin ice in the first place. Frankly even bothering to read adverts is a waste of time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And how much will BT be fined?

        Unfortunate, but true.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another day, another "Let's bash BT" article

    Virgin were on BBC Watchdog not so long ago for something VERY similar, I'll have you know.

    1. Mattjimf

      Re: Another day, another "Let's bash BT" article

      What's the bet they are the "unnamed rival".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another day, another "Let's bash BT" article

      So if I shoot someone with a gun, then someone else does it shortly after then I should get done for murder and the other person gets a lesser punishment?

      Virgin and BT have both been in trouble over advertising. So what? I would sooner have Virgin for the simple fact that BT have held back this country massively in terms of telecommunications. We could have had ADSL in the 1990s but they were happy to let people pay for dial up. Unmetered dial-uo Internet came about due to a company called Tempo (no longer with us) who created BT couldn't give two shits about providing that, they were raking in call fees.

      BT have their fingers in so many pies, they still think it is the 1980s and they are a state owned utility.

      1. Andrew Moore

        Re: Another day, another "Let's bash BT" article

        "So if I shoot someone with a gun, then someone else does it shortly after then I should get done for murder and the other person gets a lesser punishment?"

        Of course. The second crime is obviously one of diminished responsibility as they were only following your lead in the first place.

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Another day, another "Let's bash BT" article

        "So if I shoot someone with a gun, then someone else does it shortly after then I should get done for murder and the other person gets a lesser punishment?"

        Yes, presuming that the person you shot is now dead, so shooting them again isn't murder, exactly what crime shooting a dead body is is up for debate.

    3. Irongut

      Re: Another day, another "Let's bash BT" article

      Another day, another lie from BT.

      Just because Virgin lie as well doesn't mean we should let BT get away with it.

    4. Andy ORourke

      Re: Another day, another "Let's bash BT" article

      Virgin STILL do it, My daughter recently moved and was going to sign up for "Broadband and calls for just £4.50 per month*"

      I told her, see that star, have a look what is says - Installation fee, line rental from day one of £14.50 or so.

      Its just like unlimited* The * is all important, I recently had a debate with Three about this, I was looking at a SIM only deal, £12.50 per month, unlimited data, I was then told if I wanted tethering I'd have to pay £25.00 per month because "you can use much more data if you tether your phone". My reply was "If I have "unlimited*" data then WTF does it matter if I tether or not?" He didnt really have an answer to that so I decided not to join Three.

      If only there was some way to stop firms making misleading claims in Advertising (Don't get me started on Plus Net or any of the others pulling this same trick!

      1. Gordon Lawrie

        Re: Three's products

        This isn't actually unreasonable. Three have simply decided to have two different types of unlimited data tariff, one solely for use on a single mobile device, and one which can be shared across multiple devices. Both allow you to use as much data as you want without caps or threats of extra charges. Let's face it, someone loading the full fat version of a webpage on a tethered laptop uses data than someone loading the mobile version of the same site on their phone.

        A reasonable analogy is an all you can eat buffet. Whilst you are free to eat as much food as you want, you would expect the restaurant to charge more if you decided you wanted to share a plate with a buddy or take a doggy bag home.

        The mobile spectrum is a shared resource and Three has decided that they want more revenue from users who are likely to have heavier data usage patterns than other users. That's fine, and as long as they are upfront and honest about the differences between the two products that is totally their prerogative. Equally if you are not happy with the terms and conditions or price of their products it is your prerogative to take your business elsewhere.

        1. Shades

          @Gordon Lawrie, Re: Three's products

          "someone loading the full fat version of a webpage on a tethered laptop uses [more] data than someone loading the mobile version of the same site on their phone."

          Thats a bit of a disingenuous example. Not all websites have mobile versions and most that do are inferior to that of the full fat versions (El Reg being guilty of this, the BBC not so). Personally I tend to use the full fat websites even on my phone. This actually results in more data usage when browsing with the phone itself than browsing with my laptop tethered to my phone as I run FireFox with NoScript and Ghostery which stops many things from being automatically downloaded; Flash, images, scripts, etc.

          I realise this is just me, and its an anecdote, but chances are I'm not the only one to find myself in this situation. Its also probably why I've never had a letter/e-mail telling me I'm being naughty by tethering; Even if my networks tethering detection is as good as they say it is (which I doubt) I'm actually using less data.

          1. Gordon Lawrie

            Re: @Gordon Lawrie, Three's products

            I take your point regarding some websites not having mobile versions, however that doesn't change the fact that broadly speaking the usage patterns of someone who wishes to tether will vary from those of someone who only consumes data browsing on their phone. There may be the odd anomaly such as the example you gave however I am willing to bet that averaged across the entire customer base data use is going to be significantly higher amongst those customers who tether.

            Three deserves kudos for leading the market in abandoning sneaky fair use policies on their data products and as long as they continue to be honest and upfront about the limitations I don't see a problem with them differentiating their tariff features.

    5. Flywheel

      Re: Another day, another "Let's bash BT" article

      Er, maybe that's because both companies have been naughty and therefore deserve to be bashed?

    6. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Another day, another "Let's bash BT" article

      We recently wrote about Virgin Media and the ASA here:

      Virgin Media's 'bye-bye to buffering' ad nuked by watchdog - AGAIN

      Virgin Media spanked for 'we've already cabled up your house' mailshot


    7. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Another day, another "Let's bash BT" article

      Well, AC (at 12:24), it isn't hard. BT advertised something is "free". Look up "free" (in the monetary sense) in your dictionary if you are having difficulties, suffice to say that six months where the customer needs to fork out cash is not free. It's really quite simple. They say it is free, it is not.

      Whether or not Virgin do/did/may do the same sort of thing is neither here nor there. Let ASA threaten to show them a picture of the naughty step in that case. We're talking about BT today...

  3. Lusty

    Can't the ASA just ban the words "free" and "unlimited" from use in advertising? I can't think of a single honest instance where they have been used.

    Come to think of it, they should ban the use of asterisks too. If you have to put a footnote on the screen it probably means you're pulling a fast one!

    1. Andrew Moore

      also "fresh", "homemade", "luxury" and "deluxe"- especially when applied to food products.

      1. TheOtherHobbes


        the meaningless word 'goodness'. As seen on TV.

        1. pPPPP

          Re: And...

          Absolutely. Anything advertised as "free" should be forced to be free. So if you get the broadband for 6 months free, then you should be able to cancel it after 6 months and pay nothing. If something is "buy one, get one free", you should be able to claim the free item without buying the other one. Otherwise, it is not free and is a bare-faced lie. You should at least be able to take one for half price.

          All offers should be forced to display the actual price you end up paying, and nothing else. Then it would be fair for all and we'd be able to distinguish between competitors. They'd save a fortune in advertising their fibs too.

          And supermarkets should be forced to say "we selected a bunch of products, which at the time happened to be cheaper than competitor X. That doesn't necessarily mean we're cheaper overall". Or be forced to say "if you believe this shit you're an idiot."

          I can get quite angry sometimes.

          1. HollyHopDrive

            Re: And...

            Yes I agree free should mean free. The thing with the broadband is you can't have the data without the line rental. So that does need to be made clear.

            I think the easiest way to resolve this would be for it to "be 6 months free on a 18 month contract. Total contract cost £xxx or £yy per month. A saviing of £zz per month on a rolling month plan"

            That would allow you to see how much you save in reality. Then call out any other charges (which should be inlcuded in the total cost) for things such as activation fees etc.

            Its like cinema tickets. I got chanrged an 80p a ticket fee the other day. Well, I can't avoid that, so the the ticket prices is £7.50 + 80p (i.e. £8.30 not £7.50). Only where the booking fee is fixed should you be able to call it a booking fee.

            Hidden costs are all about the marketing department trying to look cheaper than a competitor.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: And...

              Re: cinema ticket booking fee. Another way of handling the issue for the cinema chain would be "80p discount on the £8.30 ticket price if you pay cash on the door". The reason they don't is that the 80p is presumably pure profit and/or advance booking is a benefit to them (as well as you). My wife paid a 50% surcharge for using a credit card to buy a coach ticket on-line, there was no alternative payment method, no way of avoiding the fee - but that's not such a bad scam as it sounds it was a fixed fee of 50p for card payment and the return ticket, Sheffield to London only cost £1! (Megabus)

          2. Jamie Jones Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: And...

            YES! The use of "free" when they mean "included in the original price" is one of my pet peeves too!

          3. the spectacularly refined chap

            Re: And...

            I don't have a problem with BOGOF deals, after all they are clear and up front: you have to buy on to become eligible for the free one. That is simply presenting the terms of a transaction without any deception. Of course, you pay for the second one via other means but nevertheless it is free to you - it doesn't cost any more to buy two than only a single one.

            On the other hand I do have problems with these "get x month free" deals not because of the line rental but because they do not spell out the quid pro quo - to follow the BOGOF model it would be "Buy eighteen months, get six months free" or whatever. Even worse are the "Try our service free for three months" style "offers" which try to conceal the fact that by "trying" the service you commit yourself to a two year contract. Not much of a trial in my books.

            Of course I don't really see why these offers are needed in the first place except to catch the unwary or penalise the lazy or loyal customers that don't switch ISPs every time the minimum term is up. I paid my annual webhosting a few weeks ago and oddly enough I knew precisely what I was paying for because it was sold as an annual fee, not a "buy one month, get eleven months free" deal.

      2. Keep Refrigerated

        I am in no way exaggerating!*

        Just ban asterisks... that should reduce their ability to overstate their offer!**





        * Yes I am.

        ** See title.

        1. ACx

          Re: I am in no way exaggerating!*

          That is a rather good idea.

          I would argue that the advert should never rely on an "*" point. If you need one, your main ad must be misleading by default. If the "*" point is necessary, it should be clearly part of the main advert.

          Some one should start a Ban The "*" campaign.

    2. Adam 1

      downunder ...

      There is a term called a cap which pretty much means the exact opposite of what the word means in any other context.

      Basically a $50 cap means you cannot spend less than $50. Crazy.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They should investigate the current BT adverts. They show students with fibre, despite the fact that most students couldn't afford it - there isn't a chance a student would sign up for an 18 month contract.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah. And that ad for

      BT Infinity (up to eight times faster). Since when has Infinity been in the vicinity of seven and a half?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Absolutely, annoys me every time I see that advert. I don't know of any student, at any university in the UK who could commit to more than a 12 month contract for broadband - anything more is a waste, and in many cases anything over 9 months is unused, so how they can ever claim that a minimum 18 month contract is "ideal for students" is bizarre. BT should get a far bigger slap for that than the current finding about the 6 months free thing.

  5. Richard S
    Thumb Down

    Line rental

    All line rental costs should be very clearly stated in advertising of this kind. It seems to me, line rental is a way of hiding fees as no one (read: a growing majority) actually need a landline other than an internet connection.

    1. pPPPP

      Re: Line rental

      Line rental is a hang-up from the days when you actually rented your telephone from BT. What it should really be advertised as is a support and maintenance contract, because that's what in effect it is. Whether that should be part of the cost you pay for your broadband is another matter. It could be argued that if you have a telephone line which you use for the phone as well as for the broadband, and you have a single support phone number then you shouldn't have to pay twice for this service. Which is in effect what happens when you subscribe to so-called "packages".

      It would be nice if the companies would just be up-front and state that this is what you're paying for. However I suspect that if they did they would scream "Free Line Rental Forever!!!!!*"

      * When you subscribe to a support and maintenance contract. Not available to existing customers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Line rental

        You only get charged the line rental if you aren't already paying it. You don't end up paying for it twice

  6. NogginTheNog

    Award winning

    I've been seeing billboard posters recently from BT offering their YouView box ("worth £299") free as part of their "award winning broadband service". I've been wracking my brain to think of any awards it's picked up recently - certain NOT one for vfm (possibly ever?!).

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: Award winning

      > certain NOT one for vfm

      Their Infinity product ought to. It's one of the cheapest options around and seems to be a pretty good service from what I hear. Frankly I'm amazed they are allowed to offer Infinity at such a paltry price. I'd expect someone to be complaining about loss-leaders designed to price out the competition.

      Personally I found the lack of static IP to be problem and that along with the bad reputation their support has put me off. Still - it's bloody cheap and is probably good enough for most people.

  7. kbb

    Does the ASA have any other punishments?

    Why do all the ASAs punishments always seem to be "Don't show the advert again, even though you won't anyway because the campaign has ended."?

    1. Kevin Johnston

      Re: Does the ASA have any other punishments?

      Sadly not. I have always believed that the ASA should have (and exercise) the ability to block ALL adverts after such a failure for a period equal to the original failing campaign.

      Then again they upheld complaints about Virgin saying that with their fibre 'you could say goodbye to buffering'. This was a correct use of English and made no absolute statements unlike the ignored re-defining of 'Unlimited' so loved by BT et al.

      Not that much hope then.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge

        Re: Does the ASA have any other punishments?

        Don't put too much faith in the ASA. They have approved the use of 'unlimited' for services that plainly have limits and also require ISPs to quote the pointless 'At least 10% get...' speed figure.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Does the ASA have any other punishments?

      The ASA can tell companies not to re-run adverts. If they keep ignoring the same rules, then the ASA can stop them running any advert that hasn't been pre-approved. This is annoying for them, and slows down the marketing process - but isn't all that bad. They did this to FCUK a while back, I'm surprised none of the broadband providers haven't been hit with the same punishment, given how often they get their wrists slapped.

      I'd imagine it's because FCUK were being told off for being offensive, rather than misleading.

      Personally I'd punish them for their inability to spell fuck. But maybe I'm just being grumpy...

  8. Andrew Moore

    The Adam and Joe Show

    Many years ago the Adam and Joe Show had a scene where they went into a supermarket and start eating the "X% Free" portion of various products. Needless to say the manger wasn't very happy.

    1. pPPPP

      Re: The Adam and Joe Show

  9. g.marconi

    why is line-rental mandatory?

    An even worse scam by BT is enforcing the full line-rental even when customers only need ADSL. With increasing numbers of people using mobile-phones as their sole means of communication very often they do not need a land-line.Telcos in other countries are happy to provide a "dry-pair" for the DSL without voice services at a much cheaper price but BT has always refused to consider this. It should not be legal to charge customers for something that they do not want !

    1. Jonathon Desmond
      Thumb Up

      Re: why is line-rental mandatory?

      Well said. Screw flying cars, where's my naked ADSL? Other countries have no issues implementing it......

    2. Test Man

      Re: why is line-rental mandatory?

      Not saying it's right, but BT's excuse is that it's a charge for the use of the line, which you need, and the voice services come "free". Hence why it's called "line rental" and not "phone service".

      Again, not saying it's right...

      1. Anonymous Custard

        Re: why is line-rental mandatory?

        So when some cunning ad-exec reads this, we can perhaps expect Ford et al to start offering free cars, where you pay only several thousands of pounds for an optional accessory called the key?

        1. Test Man
          Thumb Up

          Re: why is line-rental mandatory?

          "So when some cunning ad-exec reads this, we can perhaps expect Ford et al to start offering free cars, where you pay only several thousands of pounds for an optional accessory called the key?"

          If they offer you a key that costs tens of thousands of pounds and a "free" car to go with it, then yeah


      2. Lost in Cyberspace

        Re: why is line-rental mandatory?

        It's not just line rental though, is it. BT pissed me off a few years ago by hiking up the price and then saying, 'don't worry, the price increase now includes free weekend calls/evening calls'. Fat lot of good on a broadband-only line...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: why is line-rental mandatory?

          It's even worse than that. If you get the cheaper "pay 12 months upfront to get cheaper lone rental" deal, they throw in some free evening and weekend calls. Unfortunately, if you *don't* make enough calls per month they they charge a penalty for not using it, clearly designed to penalise people who only use their lines for broadband. And it's not mentioned in any available terms or advertising until *after* you've ordered the line!

        2. badger31

          Re: why is line-rental mandatory?

          I'm with you on that one. They put up the line rental saying "Ooh! Free calls!" Free? They're not free if you are charging extra for them. Also, I get my calls and broadband from Sky; it is IMPOSSIBLE for me to use those free calls you are forcing me to buy. Basically, BT got pissed off with people using them for line rental only, so they simply stopped offering line rental only. I now get my line rental from Sky, too. Screw BT.

        3. M Mouse

          Re: why is line-rental mandatory?

          Yes, I agree line rental with 'extras' you don't want is unpleasant,

          I also disslike the method BT and others have used to lock customers in, and get round the OFCOM requirement to only charge a reasonable amount when cancellation takes place before contract minimum length. BT and others offering reduced line rental on payment of a lump sum are also telling customer to get stuffed if they cancel as they will get no refund of the advance payment (120+ pounds) so if you leave 9 months in, you lose 25% of your cash.

          With other telco rental deals, typically one may be charged 2 to 4 quid for each month where the telco loses your line rental... IE no longer the full line rental charge because you will be paying some other telco for line rental, and in that charge they will be paying Openreach for the line... thus OFCOM has prevented customer from paying twice for the Openreach 'line' charge, and the 'losing' telco cannot pocket the bulk as profits.

          I have been using Primus (found via which has options including no included calls from around 8 quid or less (sorry, rates fluctuate and sometimes there may be a cashback deal which makes the effective cost lower, down to buyers to investigate fully)... and use Plus.Net ADSL on the line, so paying for most basic line rental (and using for calls at a flat 5p for 01/02/03 no matter how long the call duration, and 1p to USA etc) and 9.99 for unlimited broadband (no FUP small print to worry about with them). Still waiting for fibre to arrive though...

    3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: why is line-rental mandatory?

      It's the model BT has used for telephone lines forever. For metered services (like telephones used to be), it made absolute sense for BT to split out the maintenance and equipment cost from the usage cost, so that they still got money to provide the service even if no calls were made.

      Nowadays with everybody offering packages with inclusive calls, it makes less sense, apart from the ability for the provider to hide some charges in the headlines of the advertising ;-)

      For people asking for no line rental, which do they prefer. £13 a month for broadband and £14.60 line rental, or £27.60 a month for broadband without line rental, because that is the choice they would get.

      It does not matter how it is charged, the ISP (possibly through BT) has to pay for the cost of the upkeep of the wires/fibre from the exchange to the premises, the exchange itself, and the equipment in the exchange. It will either be in the line rental, or added to the package cost. Assuming that taking the line rental out would leave the package costs unchanged is just lose thinking.

      For the specific statement 'Telcos in other countries are happy to provide a "dry-pair" for the DSL without voice services' that would be true if there were really separate bits of kit in the exchange for the analogue phone line and the DSL link, but I suspect that in modern digital exchanges, that is not the case. Even if the line was not used for voice, I suspect that the kit would be the same.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: why is line-rental mandatory?

        My phone line clearly has different kit for phone and ADSL, as I spent a few days with no dialtone but the ADSL was still running.

        Next door still had working phone, so wasn't complete exchange failure.

        I currently pay £1 PCM for my phone, and a little under £29 for the ADSL. I see it that way round, anyway.

        1. M Mouse

          Re: why is line-rental mandatory?

          Sounds like an insulation problem. When I lived in N Wales in 2010, and had a line re-enabled (after 8-10 years of nil use) there was a hum, which the first engineer dismissed as something I'd have to 'get used to' (he couldn't be bothered to investigate it, reported a fault with customer wiring [despite testing from master socket and his laptop reporting a fault] and I was billed 125 quid, 3 months later, which was refunded on being challenged).

          I had 6 months of problems, with broadband speeds down to 160 kbps for weeks, and if it rained (a damp summer, line installed February, problems April to August) both ADSL and voice would fail, for up to 5 days. After the second or third time I had no dial tone, I dug out an older 'pulse dial' phone and could get the line back to working with a few 0000000 calls (lots of pulses, presumably evaporating water short-circuiting the copper pair).

          Young engineer from Merseyside came one Saturday morning and before I had answered the front door, he was up a ladder and removing the 30+ year old drop wire from the gutter level down to the hall, as he had spotted that the insulation on it had perished. Fitted a more up-to-date master socket in my upstairs computer room since the location in the hall was far from ideal (no power, wiring for extensions was awkward from that position).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: why is line-rental mandatory?

        I think I and most rational people would prefer that the whole price is rolled into one.

        Providing the lines is a 'cost of doing business' and BT et al should see it as such and like all other businesses such costs should be factored into the price.

        Line rentals/standing charges etc are all scams. You don't see Tesco's charging you separately for warehousing and distribution ...

        Of course having the line rental means that the 'package' is the only part that needs to be competitive.

    4. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: why is line-rental mandatory?

      "An even worse scam by BT is enforcing the full line-rental even when customers only need ADSL." - I'm with Orange France for internet [*] and this is how it works for me. The phone line just beeps and won't work, the phone (with a normal local code number) is plugged into the Livebox. I pay slightly more for my service than if I had a phone rental, but the total is less than rental+cheapersub. I could, if I wished [**], jack in the Livebox and go with somebody else like SFR or Free... but see [*].


      * - I am paying more for the Orange service because I know personally somebody who had a faulty internet, they payed over six months subscriptions while neither the phone nor the internet box worked correctly; both companies blaming the other. Sadly I said right at the start it sounded like a faulty filter. I say sadly because I was correct, only the person wanted an official engineer to say that. Six months of denied service and subs (trust me, we're looking at upwards of three HUNDRED euros) all for the want of a five euro part. So I am with Orange because I live in the back of beyond so would rather if something happened then there's nobody for Orange to blame as they deal with both bits.

      ** - actually, I lie. I am stuck with Orange for the next 24 months as I've just signed a contract for internet plus mobile phone. Running to about €55 a month, it offers a better deal than my previous options of ADSL (€40/month) plus Origami Zen mobile contract (€35/month). You can pick yourself up off the floor, while there are better options with relative unknowns, there are about the going prices here in France. I did a comparison with SFR last weekend and they worked out to be slightly more expensive. I wanted a new phone, which rules out Sosh. If you can read French, it is Open Style - but feel free to look around the site. Then some of you might stop complaining about the prices for packages in the UK. I can't think why telecoms in France is so damned expensive, it just seems to be...

      *** - additional footnote just to annoy the anti-footnote crowd, and to cause a segmentation violation due to unreferenced article. ;-)

    5. Christopher W

      Re: why is line-rental mandatory?

      AIUI "Annex J" (wires-only PSTN access is) conflicts with BT's USO for providing voice and emergency service access. To disconnect the pair from the voice services for a pure data service without the usual crosstalk / interference problems could open them up for liability should customer attempt to dial 999 later.

      That said, this situation may have changed now and it may in fact be ok to supply Annex J. However from a technical standpoint Annex M is superior to Annex J where supporting LLU ADSL2+ services are available.

      If you're canny and find a provider who lets you pay upfront for a year, you can get some pretty decent line rental deals (a tenner month sound good?) Primus' Saver package, with appropriate referral affiliate site discounts applied on the web site - or deft haggling over the phone - will get you into that price band. If you go with a loss leader telecoms company as part of a double/triple/quad play package, you can sometimes get near those prices too.

      BT Openreach's per-customer final mile access fees are so high I wonder how some of these companies actually make any money (or justify continuing in business given the potential to make such a loss...!)

      1. Da Weezil

        Re: why is line-rental mandatory?

        Why any liability? if it is a "data only" line then swap out the faceplate to ensure a phone cannot be plugged in - and affix a notice saying "no phone service on this line"

        The USO for 999 surely cant apply legally where a customer has been provisioned with a "data only pair" at his/her request.

        Axe the "voice tax"!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    another line rental hike?! :(

    this is how I have found out, just now. F*** c***

  11. Gio Ciampa

    When it says "Offer ends 10/01/13"...

    ... I've always assumed that it meant that anyone applying for the offer by that date got the next 6 months for free...

    Shows how much I know... *slaps forehead*

  12. MrXavia
    Thumb Up

    here is nothing 'FREE' about those 6 months, it is a buy now, pay later deal unless you can cancel at the end of those 6 Months...

    Glad the ASA held it up

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge


      Nuf. said.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Once again BT's high standards of integrity shine through

    * BT's 'six-month free broadband

    Along with:

    * No, we've never intercepted web traffic

    * No, we've never had anything to do with DPI

    * No, we'd never do something like impose bevavioural advertising trial on our customers without asking them first.

    * No, it MUST be your PC

    * No, we're not scamming prices.

    And one can probably add "I won't come in your mouth"

  14. Charles 9

    Absolute truth in advertising--there oughta be a law.

    There really should be a law in the books that enforces absolute truth in advertising (we can use courtroom standards--in the US that would mean your words must be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth). If a lie or half-truth is found, the company is guilty of deceptive appeal to the public (thus enforcing the "case" mentality of ads--you're making a case before the public, after all), punishable by having the ad enforced as if it was completely true, compensation equal to twice the difference, and/or a temporary cease-and-desist against all advertising other than simple price points (this is the phone and this is the bottom-line price, that's it): be they print, Net, TV, or on location.

  15. Tim Jenkins


    Also worth noting that this generous offer is for their 'Option 1' broadband product which has a 10GB pcm volume limit and £5 / 5GB 'excess use' charge, but you'd have to refer to their website to discover that 'feature' as there's no mention (aside from the product name) on the multiple mailshots we've had promoting it. At our current household rate of data consumption, that defines 'free' as about £35 data + £10 line rental pcm...

  16. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. mark 63 Silver badge

    All broadband is mis-sold like this

    "because a line rental charge would be applied to the product - making it anything but free."

    Its never clear to me wether any given price includes the line rental - you just have to guess from the amount.

    And as for all these "Free for six moths offers" you just have to to calucuklate it out - specially as you're locked in for 12 months = ((6*half+6*full)/12 )per month

    Its the same for all these bullshit "12 months interest free" credit card bollocks

    Transfer fee of 3%????

    Well its 3% per annum then innit - not free.

    1. M Mouse

      Re: All broadband is mis-sold like this

      "Its the same for all these bullshit "12 months interest free" credit card bollocks

      Transfer fee of 3%????

      Well its 3% per annum then innit - not free."

      No, it's potentially more. Quite some years since I did a transfer from one card to another, but that might be treated as a cash withdrawal with no interest free period and charged at whatever rate they would charge for new purchases... 20% or 30% APR or whatever in place on moving the balance.

      The balance transferred may be interest free, but anyone moving a balance is recommended to use other accounts for spending as you should be trying to reduce the balance (and if necessary move the balance) before the 12 months is up.

      1. Colin Millar

        Re: All broadband is mis-sold like this @ M Mouse

        It's worse than that

        The rate would be the cash rate which is higher than new purchases because it also includes the handling fee on which interest is also charged from the date of the advance.

        And do not ever fail to complete the pay-off by the end of the period cos you will get the handling fee charged on the whole amount from the date of the advance (i.e. the date you made the transfer) and interest on the fee calculated from that date. - For a transfer of £5000 that would be £150 for the 3% transfer plus interest on the £150 from the date of transfer - at that point you would probably be better off with a personal loan.

  18. Mystic Megabyte

    BT, FOAD

    Just got my "Free for 6 months" flyer today, it's now in the bin.

    What a bunch of crooks!

  19. Crisp

    BT Lying Again?

    Write an article when BT tell the truth about something.

    That will be news!

  20. Fihart

    Telcos, the necessary sleight of hand.

    As per mobile phone, broadband products are essentially identical (especially as most use BT's lines) but are presented as confusingly as possible to conceal their similarity.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seems to make sense to me

    Line rental is charged by everyone. To my knowledge it's what pays for the basic upkeep and running of the telephony network. Look at BTs financial results they don't exactly make money off the trad services anyway.

    As for this campaign...I saw it and understood it and thought it was clear. Any advert from any supplier for anything has a little bit of "air" in it which you need to find first. Nothing is clear and anyone who sees an advert for something free and thinks they will have to pay nothing or not sign up to a long contract is a fool.

    As for these comments about the BOGOF type supermarket people are obviously living in a deluded world. How can you even think you can take the "free" one without buying one first. It's Buy one get one free not half these products are free and half are full price. And make them all half seriously don't understand retail if you think like that. All companies want to do is to make you buy as much as they can. That's it. If you fall for these "scams" all the time then maybe you should have you bank cards taken away until you develop some common sense!

    1. Fihart

      Re: Seems to make sense to me

      The problem with BOGOFs is not that anyone actually expects to get one free without buying the other. The problem is that they encourage waste, which is why they are banned in some EU countries.

      It is particularly galling if you live in London where so many people are in single person households to see that in big supermarkets the cheapest price per kilo for, in example cheese, is to buy not just one very large pack but to then get a second "free". Bound to create waste.

      I suspect that the other issue with BOGOF is that, often the price of the paid for item has been increased prior to the offer compared with regular retail, to be reduced again at the expiry of the offer. Result, the second isn't actually free, as you are now paying a premium for the first.

      1. CCCP

        Re: Seems to make sense to me

        Actually, that sort of pricing behaviour is not looked on kindly by the regulator as it falls foul of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations. Back in 2008, my then employer took those regs pretty seriously and put everyone on a 2-day course.

        As I understand it, and IANAL, anything underhand that is likely drive consumer behaviour, is a no no. So false strike through prices, i.e. a pretend sale, doesn't wash. Equally, manipulating prices for pretend BOGOF offers is not on.

        The addiction to "free" by marketers is because everyone, of course, wants free stuff even though we know full well it isn't really free at all. We get a little mental reward from fuling (sic) ourselves we got it "free". It's a similar mind trick to when the missus comes home and has "saved" £150 on this great coat... even though she actually spent £200.

        So don't expect the misuse of free to go away any day soon.

      2. M Mouse

        Re: Seems to make sense to me

        "often the price of the paid for item has been increased prior to the offer compared with regular retail"

        Certainly seems to be the case for Tesco 'buy one, get two free' ''offers''.

        Tesco gets no end of criticism for such tactics on HotUKdeals

        Also agree about the additional waste, though even as a single person I sometimes buy when I see a BOGOF.

        What annoys me most is that the offers are aimed at car-owning family shoppers, where the little old lady/man (pensioner) who would probably buy if the item was simply 'Half Price' (and be able to carry it) but cannot justify the 'bulk' (transport and/or consumption) and is being frozen out of saving money by the supermarkets, when they are in most need of being able to save what meagre pension money they have available...

        Just wish someone in the IT section of a supermarket sees such a complaint now, and passes view up the line...

  22. nimster

    BT are a shower of theiving so and so's

    twice i have been forced into signing up BT as my telecom provider - mainly becuase there was no line available and i did not have the option of cable.

    both times have ended up paying hefty hidden costs, somtimes 100 a month for broadband usage despite being on an all you can eat package.

    BT deserve more than just a wrist slapping.

  23. David 155
    Thumb Down

    Another unfair BT practice...

    is to charge me £2.50 if i DONT make at least two phonecalls per month. Highly annoying considering i only need the line for broadband.

    1. Lost in Cyberspace

      Re: Another unfair BT practice...

      Yep £8 extra a month (for caller ID and line installation over 18 months) for NOT plugging in a phone and dialling 10 numbers a month. Yes it's in the small print, I am aware of it and did reluctantly agree to it, but that doesn't make it fair - and the wording in the small print is confusing and borderline deceiving.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow the ASA were annoyed..... that must be like being ravaged by a dead sheep.

    Maybe OFCOM could require the BT could concentrate on removing the "voice tax" from broadband provision - if voice and dialing facilities are not used (or required) why are we forced to pay for them? The ASA need to make BT advertise their lie.. in the same time slots and in the same manner - maybe an advert featuring the 3 students suddenly realizing that they have been ripped off by BT. The "apology prominence" should be a mandatory thing - that might dissuade the companies that seem to be happy to lie routinely knowing that the potential for increased sales is likely to more than cover the derisory fine from the tame watch-sheep

    Time that BT group were dragged into the new millennium and forced to update their offerings but like truth in their advertising that isn't going to happen under the watch of OFCOM and the ASA, both of whom are a total waste of time and money, seeming to go through the motions while not actually managing to do any regulating or "persuading" BT group to provide the services people want without having to take those they don't

    Failing that force BT to surrender either the network of the retail business - clearly it is unfit to run both between using SMP and plain lies to disadvantage both competitors and consumers..

    1. M Mouse

      "if voice and dialing facilities are not used (or required) why are we forced to pay for them? "

      Yes, if you stick with BT you may be paying OTT fee for "included calls" you won't use. Get a line from Primus and you pay far less (almost 50% savings on latest BT line rental monthly cost) without having to pay 12 months in one go, and without paying for any calls. However, some items such as Caller Display (should you want it) will cost...

      Line 'installation' is only 60 quid, and line rental is pretty much what it costs them to pay Openreach for the rental (and yet, there's plant and staff to fix the line which is what the Openreach fee is for... I'm not in a position to know how much it costs, and how much is profit, but they've had to take (back) on engineering staff over the last few years (admittedly not as many for voice as for data)

      1. Da Weezil

        BT Suck

        I'm referring to the part of the copper rent that goes on the maintenance of voice facilities. all I want is a couple of wires back to my LLU providers DSLAM.

        Bt already lost my line rental - but I feel the pair should be cheaper as they cant fix an intermittent fault that has caused line drops for over 10 years, but keep whining about the cost of maintenance and investment - on an exchange where ADSL1 is supported on kit taken out of the exchanges favoured with upgrades.

        No investment of any real nature happens here despite it being around a 10,000 line exchange.

        They spend naff all here and yet expect us to bankroll all the upgraded areas with premium pricing on an out of date service provided over second hand kit. BT abuse the SMP they have and should be broken up.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    sadly, in this Capitalist world, any action that even remotely threatens to dent the after tax profits or upset the Board, many of whom are Politicians, of any company is not going to happen. We should all get that used to that because the whole sorry thing is rotten to its very core and isn't going to change as long as Humans are running the show.

  26. Chris D Rogers

    Try Talk Talk

    Given all the shit Talk Talk get, the fact is that their Essentials service is the cheapest, particularly if you pay your line rental 12 months in advance.

    presently, the broadband/telephone service my folks have works out cheaper than the line rental on most of the competition. Indeed, having threatened to get my MAC from them and change vendor, my folks are now paying less than £11.00 per month for unlimited broadband and highly reduced international telephone rates - given for more than two years we have had zero technical issues with Talk Talk and download speeds are average to say the least, one is quite pleased - even demanded a new modem/wireless router before signing for a full 12 month contract.

    whilst they do throttle at peak times, I've downloaded nearly 200gigs in less than two months, for what my parents need - iPlayer and Skype on the computer, it's really much better value than what I can usually get in Hong Kong - can't say that for mobile phone charges though.

    So, forget BT, Virgin and Sky, pure rip off merchants and give someone else a chance!

    1. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

      Re: Try Talk Talk

      Only problem with talktalk (and everyone else providing over trad. copper pair from the BT exchange) is they can do everything perfectly, but when the installer arrives in a BTopenreach (or Kelly Comms on bahalf of openreach), that's when it'll all go pear shaped.

      Had a new install 2 days ago!

      Sky phone and sky fibre.

      BTo's VDSL installer arrived at 0900, and tried to force his view that he should install the service on someone else's physical line.

      BTo's 2nd installer arrived 1200 to install the actual line.

      New date for the vdsl install? 4th Feb.

      Contracted date: 15th Jan.

      Nothing screwes up even a perfect install by any telco faster then BTopenreach!

      1. Christopher W
        Thumb Up

        Re: Try Talk Talk

        To their credit, BTO's direct employees I've never had problems with. In fact when my ISP booked an SFI engineer improperly, the guy who turned up was just a standard engineer - with SFI experience and knowledge - and fortunately he had the tools, the wherewithall AND THE COURTESY to fix my problem anyway.

        When I had a Kelly Comms subcontractor out, he was so keen to get to the next job and earn more commission that he effectively left the job half finished - with his termination equipment still on the line! - whilst he went to the exchange to presumably do two jobs at once. Even then, the problem wasn't fixed and I had to push him to rewire around a 50 year old hardwired GPO termination block and fit a new drop cable to the master socket.

        Surprise surprise, when the problem recurred three months later, the BTO engineer stripped his work out, checked the overhead drop cable from the pole into my property then fitted a new prefiltered NTE5. Line's worked at max efficiency ever since.

        I've always had good service from the BTO engineers, in Birmingham / West Mids at least they seem to mostly be experienced guys who are more pragmatic in their approach, probably due to the amount of shit they have to deal with caused by third parties and subcons. I had far more problems with the VM engineers during my office's protracted and VERY painful 100 Meg cable broadband installation.

        1. Da Weezil

          BT Inept

          You are lucky - the ones they have in West Wales seem completely inept - except for booking charges where a network fault exists.

  27. Purlieu

    While you're banning words in adverts ....


  28. This post has been deleted by its author

  29. Richard Cranium

    New legislation required - or Darwinism in action?

    I never cease to be amazed at people showing me a shiny new and expensive mobile phone, for example, and telling me they got it free while not mentioning that it's on a 2 year contract at £40 a month.

    I want all such offers to be required to include a "total contract minimum spend" statement. So that free mobile phone would have to state "total minimum contracted spend £960 over 2 years". That would also prevent the supplier ramping up the monthly fee during the contract. No, silly me, they'd still ramp the fee and hope nobody reported them to ASA - for no meaningful action to be taken, just an instruction not to do it again...

    In similar vein are "free trials" where you are required to cancel by a specific date to prevent having initiated an ongoing subscription involving future payments. Same for 0% finance (subject to paying off the balance after 12 months otherwise the loan continues for another 2 years at a high interest rate).

    On the other hand I'm getting to be such an old cynic that I'm inclined to think: "there are those of us who are numerate and smart enough to work it out for ourselves, meanwhile the mugs are paying over the odds and subsidising my better considered choices. This is Darwinism in action."

    1. Christopher W
      Thumb Up

      Re: New legislation required - or Darwinism in action?

      Awesome idea. I had a similar idea - any ad for a service offering should have a traffic light-style mandatory display, in a defined legible font and size, which clearly lays out total monthly commitment, total annual cost and minimum contract period, to be shown on screen (be it on TV or online) for at least a defined minimum amount of seconds. For radio ads, they could do spoken smallprint like for insurance / mortgage ads but with a defined reading speed.

      Pisses me off too how people still seem to lack awareness about TCO, or just fail to adequately consider it which is bizarre when you consider the significant overall cost of these services.* "The phone was free even though the contract's £35 a month. But I got the phone free!" But did you cost out buying the phone sim-free on a 0% APR credit card, signing it up to a SIM-only tariff where the subsidy can be put into cheaper monthly cost? Thought not.

      * No wonder the country's in so much debt. **

      ** And the answer to this problem is, of course, 42

  30. Mark Eaton-Park

    still advertising this "deal"

    I guess BT don't have to pay any attention to the ASA at all

  31. Dr?

    The main problem with the ASA is that they are far too slow. They issue a ruling not to run the advert again after the offer has expired. BT will care not one jot, the ad has already served its purpose.

  32. daveeff

    line rental - no just BT

    Spent Sunday PM explaining to my mum why switching to virgin would still cost as all the packages are plus 14.50 / month line rental...

    All adverts should have a bottom line - eg minimum of 18 months => min total payable 12*45+6*15 = 630 over 18 months

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