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Hidden Charges Still Sting UK Broadband Consumers

Posted: 18th Dec, 2008 By: MarkJ
The latest Moneysupermarket study has revealed that over a quarter (27%) of broadband users are still being hit by hidden charges, which are often tucked away deep within the small print. Those affected can expect to lose an average of £36 per year to such costs.

The research estimates that 4.5 million households have been stung, allowing line providers' to rake in over £160m worth of extra revenue. Of those who have been stung, BT users had to foot the most expensive bill with an extra £51 per year, followed by Virgin Media (£42), Sky (£35) and AOL (£29).

Paper billing (9%) and non-direct debit payments (7%) are the most common charges incurred, with charges for late payments (6%) and installation (5%) also aggravating customers. Meanwhile a quarter (25%) of broadband users only skim read their contracts and 8% admit they do not read contracts at all.

As a result the study claims that 53% of Sky customers, 60% of Virgin Media customers and 65% of BT customers were unaware of the additional charges they incurred. The study warns consumers to look out for the following:

  • Charges for paying by non-direct debit methods

  • What is your download limit? Does you provider charge if you go over it?

  • How much does it cost to call your provider if you have a technical problem?

  • Does it cost you to cancel your contract or if you move home in the first 12 months?

  • Does your provider charge a setup fee?
ISPreviews personal favourite is when an ISP claims no activation/setup costs alongside a 1 month contract at signup, yet if you leave the service within 12 months then the original activation fee (average of around £50) is applied. That's technically not a monthly contract at all.

However to be fair some of the ISPs mentioned above do make their service installation/setup charges reasonably clear, thus it's perhaps not right to call all of them "hidden". Never the less this does show the importance of reading Terms & Conditions (T&C's) properly.
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