The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has announced that it has upheld two complaints regarding adverts for Virgin Media's broadband services.
Both complaints came from customers claiming they had signed up to Virgin's 12-month broadband contract, only to be told they would face an increase in their monthly charge, before their minimum term was over.
Two 12-month contracts were advertised on the provider's site, one for £4 a month for six months and another for £25 a month.
The ASA concluded that the adverts were misleading and potentially in breach of Ofcom’s rules on mid-contract price hikes.
Responding to ruling, Virgin said prices were subject to change in the middle of contracts due to fluctuations in added-on costs, such as line rental.
Under current rules, UK providers must notify customers of any price rise 30 days beforehand, while also allowing subscribers to cancel their contracts during this period without any penalty charges.
Virgin Media has reportedly insisted it was unable to foresee how much the core price of any of its packages would rise, adding that Ofcom guidance did not prevent it from raising prices during the minimum term, although it did concede that the regulator was likely to treat such a situation as being detrimental to customers.
However, the ASA has ruled that while both of the advertised contracts were variable, the company had not done enough to inform customers that contracts were not fixed during the minimum term of the contract.
The authority said: "We considered that the monthly price of a contract was likely to be material to consumers when deciding on a telecommunications package, and that they might not choose a particular package if they knew that the monthly cost could increase beyond the amounts stated in the ad, during the minimum term."
As part of the ASA's ruling, the adverts in question must not appear again on the website in their current form.