Citizens Advice claims a number of consumers across the UK are struggling to work out which home broadband deal is the cheapest due to “misleading adverts”.
The charity's verdict comes on the back of a recent study conducted alongside ComRes, asking respondents to compare two deals and to then work out the price of a broadband contract using information from adverts and marketing materials used on the websites of seven different providers.
It found that 56% were unable to pick out the cheaper deal, while 22% were able to work out the average amount they would be paying a month from a single advert.
As a result, 75% found the information in most broadband adverts was too complex to easily compare.
Citizens Advice claims that consumers unable to identify the cheapest package could be between £7 and £197 out of pocket over the length of their contract.
One of the main factors, according to the charity, is the fact that many adverts typically advertise a promotional period that is either free of substantially lower than the overall cost of the contract.
It added that the cost of line rental and the length of time that the “teaser” price applies is often included in small print.
Gillian Guy, CEO of Citizens Advice, said: “Misleading broadband adverts are hiding the true cost of a contract. Attractive headline offers that don’t include line rental costs make it impossible for people to work out the best broadband deal on offer without doing complicated sums.
"This stands in the way of people being able to make an informed decision about what internet package is best for them.
"A broadband market that works for consumers should be competing on the overall cost of the available deals rather than on how difficult they can make it for people to work this out.
"Broadband providers need to make the costs of a contract clear in their advertising and the Advertising Standards Authority should also review the code of practice to make sure it works well for consumers.”