Advertisement feature

Avoiding the hidden costs of broadband

 

You’ve found the perfect broadband deal for you at the perfect price, but is this deal too good to be true? It’s possible, purchasing a broadband connection can be fraught with hidden costs and charges just waiting to jump out at you and make that great deal seem not quite so great.

This is the Independent’s handy guide to navigating the hidden-cost minefield.

Line rental

Line rental is one way in which broadband providers will try to squeeze a few extra pennies out of you each month. And by “a few extra pennies” I mean “1500 extra pennies”; line rental can be as much as £15 on top of your monthly broadband fee.

The reason broadband companies charge this much for a landline is because they know you need one. ADSL broadband is simply unavailable without a BT landline. Some providers – Sky, TalkTalk and AOL to name just three – will allow you to pay for line rental upfront, saving money in the long run. If you have the initial capital this can be a very handy option.

The other option is to eschew the landline altogether. If you live in an area were Virgin Media fibre optic broadband is available, this option requires no landline. Mobile broadband also requires no landline connection.

Monthly usage caps

This might seem like an obvious one, but there is more to it than meets the eye. Of course, if you pay for a download limit of 15GB a month and download 23GB of data in that monthly period, you will expect to be hit with a penalty.

However, if you pay for unlimited broadband, you would assume that unlimited downloads are your reward. This is not always the case; most broadband providers will still operate a fair usage policy which enables them to charge you if you download too much data throughout the month.

Two tips to avoid such charges: analyse your monthly usage requirements so that you know exactly what sort of data plan you need; and always, always, always read the small print on your contract!

Connection and other fees

Broadband providers will often charge you a connection fee to get you up and running. This is a difficult one to avoid; however, some broadband providers do offer free connection as part of a wider bundle. As bundling your services in this way will save you money in the long run anyway, this is an excellent route to go down.

Another fee that can hit you hard is the cancellation fee. Broadband providers offer their cheapest deals to customers who sign lengthy contracts, but if that customer decides they want out of a contract after only a few months, the provider will charge them a very hefty fee to cover the remaining time on the contract.

To avoid this, plan ahead. Don’t sign up for a 24 month contract for the student house you’re only going to spend 9 months in. The monthly fees are cheaper but the cancellation cost will get you and transferring your broadband contract to another property can be costly too!

Free stuff that isn’t really free

Broadband providers like to offer little extras to make it look like you are getting a good deal. Many of these things are genuinely useful – such as a costly router free of charge – while others are less so; i.e. anti-virus software that you could get for free elsewhere.

The trick is to shop around. Very often, such freebies aren’t actually free and will result in the provider pushing up your monthly rates in exchange for stuff you don’t really need. Check out what other broadband providers are offering to make sure you truly are getting the best deal.

Customer service call centres

Customer service call centres can be a godsend, but they can also be incredibly infuriating, particularly when you are paying through the nose just to be put on hold for 10 minutes.

When you get through to an operator, ask them to call you back. While this will be against their normal policy, a broadband provider is not going to risk losing a customer over the cost of a phone call. This allows you to explain the problem at length without racking up a hefty bill.

Many customer service centres have alternative, cheaper contact numbers that are not as well publicised as the premium rate lines. Not only are these lines cheaper – or even free on some contracts – there is a higher likelihood that your call will go straight through to an operator rather than being queued is much higher.

More Hints and Tips

  • Use direct debit to pay your monthly bill. Most broadband providers will give you a discount for this.
  • Always read the small print on any contract you sign.
  • Always shop around before signing up for a bundle. You may find a better offer elsewhere that delivers exactly what you need.
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails

ES Rentals

    Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

    Tribal gathering

    Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
    Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

    Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

    Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
    Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

    Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

    No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
    How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

    Power of the geek Gods

    Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
    What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

    Perfect match

    What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
    10 best trays

    Get carried away with 10 best trays

    Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
    Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

    Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

    Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
    Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

    Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

    He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high