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Bulldog told to be more upfront about pricing

Line rental buried in small print

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Bulldog has been told to be more upfront about its charges for its unbundled broadband service after complaints that it buried price information in the smallprint.

A nationwide press ad last autumn dangled the tempting offer of "up to eight meg broadband only £9.75* a month fixed for as long as you are with us."

The asterisk was linked to small print which informed punters that a Bulldog home phone line costing £10.50 a month was also needed for the service.

BT and a member of the public complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) because the headline price of £9.75 didn't reflect the true costs of subscribing to Bulldog's service.

But the Cable & Wireless (C&W) owned outfit said the ad did make it clear that a phone line was required and that the vast majority of consumers were aware that broadband services required a phone line. It also argued that most rival broadband providers quoted broadband prices exclusive of the monthly phone line rental charge.

But Bulldog isn't like most broadband providers. As a local loop unbundling (LLU) operator it also charges for the phone as well. In its ruling the ASA said that since Bulldog's offer was bundled and "because new customers could not obtain the broadband service for £9.75 a month without also paying £10.50 a month for Bulldog's telephony service" then the ad "was misleading".

"We considered that the requirement to take a Bulldog phone line when taking the Bulldog broadband service was a significant condition that was not sufficiently prominent in the footnote," it said. As a result, Bulldog now has to make the cost of line rental and the true cost of its service more prominent in its ads.

A separate complaint about the availability of Bulldog's eight meg service - which is restricted to around a third of UK homes and businesses - was dismissed. ®

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