Broadband Hidden cost
If you are much excited over the cheapest broadband package that you have recently found after so much web-browsing and shopping around, we would like to caution you - watch out for the hidden costs or extra charges that come with the package.
Hidden costs are nothing but charges which are deliberately excluded from package cost by the providers with an aim to make the package sound more attractive and very cheap. The irony of the hidden costs is that you cannot help paying them. For example, line rental which is often excluded from the monthly cost, but you would pay anyhow, to get your ADSL broadband. Virgin Media and BT charge the maximum line rental and O2 charges the minimum.
To help you know the actual cost of a package or a bundle, we often include all hidden costs in the first year cost of all packages in our broadband comparison so you will know what you might have to pay before hand. This will often help you to avoid any embarrassment at the time of signing up to your ISP or later during the contract period. Our expert, Consumer reviews on UK broadband providers often let you know the hidden costs-the pitfalls you may be unaware of.
If you want to take up an ADSL package, bear in mind that line rental is going to be a part of your broadband deal. Some ISPs mention the line rental on their websites while others do not. However, you need to check and find out whether the monthly cost of broadband package includes line rental. If it is not then find out the line rental as it varies from ISP to ISP.
While cable providers like Virgin Media do not charge line rental for their broadband service, there may be installation/activation charges with these non-ADSL services.
Read the article on ADSL vs Cable broadband to know advantages and disadvantages of the dominant broadband services available in the UK.
Here are some of the hidden costs which you need to understand at the time of working out the first year cost of your broadband deal. But before getting on to it, let us look in to some of the basic terminologies related to hidden costs.
Hidden costs of bundles
Some broadband and phone packages do not include the price of call plan as it is optional. For instance, AOL Talk call plan can be added to AOL broadband package; however, the price will only indicate the monthly cost of broadband. Have a look at our broadband bundles to compare all bundled packages.
Likewise, ISPs like Virgin Media offer great discount when you bundle their broadband packages with Virgin Mobile service. This implies that you can get this benefit from this special offer only when you take Virgin Mobile on contract basis.
Free broadband as advertised by ISPs like TalkTalk or Orange broadband is in fact not free as you need to sign up to other services like their phone packages which often includes line rental too.
Any broadband provider who uses phone line connection for the purpose of broadband would collect line rental for using it. Packages offered by different broadband providers include line rental along with the cost of package or depending on some condition. Earlier, BT was the only company that provided home land line connections. But the situation is not the same now. Several companies have started providing both internet service and home land line connections. On the other hand, some companies offer broadband service without the requirement of phone connection. Thus users can save a lot of money by choosing only that service required by them. If you are a person who does not make use of landline but only the broadband connection, then why not get free line rental for your broadband connection.
Customers can benefit from free line rental services provided by some of the broadband service providers. These providers offer landline savers to help users save money additionally apart from saving from broadband line rental. It is always better to check for the monthly cost involved in the broadband package that includes line rental cost before going for one.
Tips to reduce line rental
- It is not a better idea to switch to a new landline home phone provider just to earn small savings. Instead, you can save a lot of money by going for any deal that provides you with cheaper call charges.
- Monthly payment through direct debit method helps to save a lot of money. This way one can save as much a £5 per month from certain suppliers. Some suppliers also offer paperless billing.
- When you decide to switch broadband providers, think of a better broadband service provider who can provide cheaper call rates along with broadband service.
- It is not only cheaper but also easier to manage whenever service or customer support is required.
- Customers can get discounts if they opt for a single provider for both landline connection and broadband service.
- Line rental saver allows a user to pay a year's line rental in advance and henceforth enjoy broadband for the rest of the year without worrying about the payment.
Mobile Broadband dongle cost
Dongles can be defined as a USB device with which you can access the internet with 3G mobile broadband application/ connection. It includes USB mobile broadband stick, internet stick, dongle, USB modem or USB network adapter. Dongles are used to provide internet facility with 3G technology just like mobile broadband. Currently the following providers provide dongles for its customers along with the broadband connection.
- Vodafone Mobile Broadband offers free dongles such as mobile wireless modem, super-fast USM modem-stick, super fast USB modem stick and super-fast USB stick pro.
- Three offers its customers with dongles such as USB modem stick(free), premium USB modem stick (free), USB modem stick (free) and Samsung NC110 with windows 7 (free), USB modem stick(pre-loaded with data of 1GB), mobile wireless modem (free), USB modem stick(preloaded with data of 3GB) and preloaded PAYG USB stick.
- Orange offers dongles such as free wireless router and USB stick to its customers.
Modems /Routers /Installation charges
Most ISPs in the UK offer modems or routers free only when you sign up a contract. While a lower level package with a contract assures you of a free wired modem or router, higher level packages often come with attractive offers of wireless routers which may otherwise cost more, if bought from the market.
Remember, to get these freebies, you need to pay the amount for the full contract period. Again, there may be other charges like postage or installation of modem/router charges etc.
When you decide to go wireless, remember not all ISPs offer free wireless routers, even when you sign up for a contract length. For example, if you sign up to UK online lite or pro you will have to buy net gear wireless router.
With some providers, though the modem/router is offered free when you sign up for a contract, but you will have to return the same when you decide to leave them.
Changes incured in promotional offers
When you sign up for a contract, often ISPs make sizeable reduction in monthly price for an initial period only (first 3 months or 6 months) but make you to pay the standard price (which is generally much higher) for the rest of the contract. The best way to know the actual cost is to have a look at the first year cost of the package in our comparison chart where these and other hidden costs like wireless router, installation and activation fee are all included in the 1st year cost so you can compare all offers.
Broadband prices have come down sharply in the last two years. This is because ISPs are able to waive one-off activation charges, installation charges and hardware costs on a condition that you commit to a contract. Again, you may need to pay activation charges, modem fee etc for certain business packages or cable broadband packages.
In such cases we have added these costs with monthly cost / first year cost of the relevant package to make sure that you would not end up paying anything extra.
Buying extra usage
Have you taken up a cheap broadband deal without assessing your usage? If you just send or receive mails, browse a couple of hours daily or download a few music albums/video clips occasionally, you need not worry much about exceeding your monthly usage allowance set by your ISP. What happens when your package allows 2GB or 5GB download, while your downloads could exceed that limit in certain months.
ISPs impose fixed charges for your additional usage which may further increase the monthly cost. So, it is best to have a look at the charges imposed by ISPs for the extra usage.
If you have taken up an unlimited package, it does not mean you can download as much as you like. There are still download limits that can restrict your usage during peak hours, the ISPs may either do 'throttling' (slow down your speed) or put download limits during busy hours. Conduct a broadband line test and find out the speed of your connection using the broadband calculator. It is better to read our broadband fair usage policy as it throws light on these issues.
If you are with a capped service and you often exceed the monthly download limits, a few ISPs like BT upgrade your service to the next higher level package and this will invariably lead to extra monthly cost.
For your convenience, we have provided all this information, in our Broadband packages section.
Charges while switching or moving your home
If you switch your provider before the expiry of your contract, most ISPs make you to pay cancellation charges. A few ISPs like Be and PlusNet offer no contracts or one month contracts, however, you will be required to give a month or three month notice period before you change provider, otherwise you will incur cancellation charges.
If you move your house but wish to continue with the current provider, you will need to pay certain charges for doing so.
Switching can be a hassle sometimes. Read our broadband switching guide to make it smooth and easy.
Call charges to use Customer service and Technical support
Most ISPs charge your calls that you make to their customer services team and technical support at national call rates or at premium rates. There are other ISPs who offer relatively cheaper customer service with their 0845 numbers; even then the call may cost you around 4p per minute.
In comparison, a few ISPs offer free technical support or customer service, but in the process, they will make you to use other service. For instance, if you take AOL Talk with AOL broadband package, you can make free customer service calls while the same will cost you if you have taken their broadband alone deal. So is the case with Toucan.
We help you to find the packages that come with free customer service by providing information in our broadband offers page.
Charges for Internet security features
While many ISPs offer basic internet security when you sign up a package, not only it lacks some advanced features for complete protection but also has validity for a limited period (one year or so). For the second year, you will either have to buy internet security software like Norton or McAfee.
Considering the increasing threats to your privacy and security from internet, the need for anti-virus and other security software can not be overlooked. A good security suite combined with firewall, antivirus, anti-phishing and anti-spam features can cost you a good amount.
Broadband VAT Rate
You need to check whether the monthly cost of your package includes VAT charges as most ISPs advertise the monthly price exclusive of these charges. Reports says that ever since the UK government has increased VAT charges for broadband, consumers have been paying more because of hike in VAT and other charges. Also, due to several other factors majority of broadband consumers are planning to switch their ISPs for better speed, better service and also to save money. Hence, ISPs must make sure to provide excellent service to their customers by keeping up their promise.