London, United Kingdom, February 06, 2013 --(PR.com
)-- A new web-based ISPreview.co.uk survey of 846 Internet users in the United Kingdom has revealed that 89% of respondents still feel that big broadband ISPs are continuing to mislead consumers with their advertising practices, especially in regards to promotions of service speed and pricing.
In which area do ISP ads still mislead the public about most?
Speed / Performance - 75%
Price - 12.8%
Reliability - 6.8%
Support - 5.2%
The news comes almost a year after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) introduced new rules to clamp down on misleading ISP promotions of broadband speeds and “unlimited” style usage allowances.
"Tackling repeat offenders is a difficult task for the ASA and as a result some ISPs have continued to publish misleading promotions, safe in the knowledge that their punishment will usually amount to little more than a slap on the wrists," said ISPreview.co.uk's Founder, Mark Jackson. "The misleading adverts are normally banned but by then the damage has already been done."
The study also revealed that 97% of respondents want the ASA to be given more power to punish repeat offenders and the majority called for some form of financial penalty to help discourage future abuses.
What would be the best punishment?
Financial Penalty (Fine) - 53.3%
Forced Review of New Ads - 24.1%
Temporary External Ad Ban - 19.3%
Keep Current ASA Rules - 3.1%
"The case of Virgin Media, which has seen around 25 of its adverts banned over the past couple of years and recently ended up being featured on the BBC's Watchdog TV show, highlights that the introduction of rules without the presence of an effective enforcement regime can still result in consumer harm. BT, Sky Broadband and TalkTalk have also seen plenty of their adverts banned," added Jackson.
ISPreview.co.uk's survey noted that the ASA, while not a statutory body (i.e. no power to issue fines), does have the ability to impose sanctions. For example, the ASA could prohibit media space to an advertiser, withdraw trading privileges (e.g. discounts on bulk mailings) and can even refer serious offenders to their legal backstops (e.g. the telecoms regulator Ofcom) for statutory sanctions. But the ASA seeks a different approach.
A spokesperson for the ASA told ISPreview.co.uk: "We do not subscribe to the argument that an 'ideal world' involves fines; there is no evidence to suggest that makes for a more effective sanction or deterrent. Our preferred approach to regulation is prevention rather than cure. We work to help advertisers get their ads right."