REBECCA RUTT: Dear Broadband Providers, please stop treating us like morons, we're not as stupid as you think

Drum roll please…Vodafone has announced to the world it has abolished the ghastly line rental charge for its broadband customers.

Hallelujah – no longer will customers be tied down to paying the £18 a month fee for line rental so let’s all go out and celebrate how wonderful the company is for making this historic move.

But wait a second – aren’t all broadband companies being made to do just this by the end of October by the Advertising Standards Agency?

Yes, in fact it’s nothing new, spectacular or exciting as earlier this year the ASA announced it was enforcing new rules to make sure broadband providers weren’t allowed to exclude the line rental price when advertising broadband costs.

Vodafone has abolished line rental charges but instead of the price dropping, it's being combined with broadband services

Vodafone has abolished line rental charges but instead of the price dropping, it's being combined with broadband services

The fact Vodafone is shouting from the rooftops that they’re the first provider to do this as an ‘industry first’ isn’t really call for any kind of celebration as they’re going to have to do this anyway very shortly.

Glafkos Persianis, Vodafone’s commercial director, said: ‘Giving our customers the opportunity to break free from hidden line rental charges is our way of letting our customers know that we are listening and that we are serious.’

But (I’m aware I’m now sounding like a broken record) this is something ALL PROVIDERS HAVE TO DO. 

Now while being the first to do such a thing deserves a small pat on the back - why should they do it if others aren't - I resent the fact it's packaged up as the scrapping of the line rental.

If that was the case wouldn't Vodafone customers see an immediate £18 price cut?

Until now broadband providers have been able to exclude line rental from their headline rates

Until now broadband providers have been able to exclude line rental from their headline rates

And it’s not just Vodafone either, TalkTalk announced in May that from the autumn it would be the the ‘first’ provider to combine line rental and broadband costs.

But once again - autumn is when the ASA has told these companies they will need to separate the costs, so being the first to announce this is going to happen is not only pointless but clearly an elaborate marketing ploy.

Do these firms really think we’re that stupid? Can they really justify these claims when they’re not actually doing anything they won’t have to do by October anyway. 

Vodafone has had a turbulent year after a deluge of customer service complaints

Vodafone has had a turbulent year after a deluge of customer service complaints

Of course they can because they've been able to get away with this shoddy pricing structure for so long it beggars belief.

How can it possibly be fair for a company to lure in new customers with adverts promising prices of just a few pounds, only to hit them with a line rental charge of around £20 per month on top.

We’ve been campaigning for broadband providers to be more transparent about these fees for years.

If a charge has to be paid – as line rental does – then why are companies allowed to exclude it from the headline price?

TalkTalk said it will separate line rental and broadband charges in the autumn, when the ASA is brining in new rules for all broadband providers to do so

TalkTalk said it will separate line rental and broadband charges in the autumn, when the ASA is brining in new rules for all broadband providers to do so

I also think the reason Vodafone has made this announcement is because it's in need of a positive news story right now. For months we’ve been flooded with emails, letters and calls from unhappy readers who have suffered at the hands of the telecoms giant.

Ofcom is also investigating it because of the deluge of complaints over customer service handling it has received. 

TalkTalk hasn’t exactly had the best year for headlines either after the major security breach last year when details of 1.2million customers were leaked onto the web.

So my final plea is this, please stop treating your customers as idiots.

We pay hundreds of millions every year for broadband - which is an essential utility.

Therefore we don’t deserve to be treated in this way. Instead we want transparency, honesty and a clear pricing structure – but given the way this market has been allowed to act for years, it seems we’re a long way off.

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