Hi broadbandchoices! The new broadband prices make more sense, and I’m glad line rental isn’t hidden any more. But are there any other hidden costs with broadband that I should look out for?
Kate, via email
Broadband prices changed a bit as of 31 October 2016, meaning the cost of line rental is no longer hidden. That makes things far less confusing, right? We asked if you had any other questions, and Kate asked about other hidden costs.
The answer is this:
Yes, there are other costs that you may want to be aware of when you take out a broadband package.
None of them are outright hidden per se - you'll be told everything you have to pay when you sign up. However, it's very easy to miss some of these costs or forget about them, then get a bit of a surprise when they pop up.
The main extra cost of a broadband package comes in the form of one-off set-up fees. These aren't hidden at all, but it's something a lot of us forget to factor in when we switch.
Set-up fees could be for the price of the router, installing a line, an engineer visit, the connection fee, postage and packaging, or just general admin charges, and they can range from nothing at all up to £60 or so.
Because broadbandchoices is so incredibly helpful, our comparison tool actually incorporates the set-up costs when calculating the total first year cost of a package. You can see everything you have to pay right off the bat - as well as compare the realistic cost of different providers' services.
Don't forget you'll probably have to pay a fee when you cancel your broadband too. Switching (when you're out of contract) doesn't usually come with a fee from your old provider, but if you're just cancelling - or switching to a cable operator - you may get hit with a cessation fee to stop your service. BT charges £30, for instance.
And, of course, cancelling your broadband contract before the minimum contract term is up can bring some very expensive fees indeed. In this case, the cancellation fee is usually equal to the remaining payments on your contract. So, if you cancel eight months into a one-year contract, you'll need to pay four months' worth of bills. Ouch.
The key here is to avoid cancelling early if you can - or pick a one-month broadband contract instead.
For some providers, such as Virgin Media, you'll also have to return any equipment they gave you once your time with them ends. That includes the router, the TiVo box, and so on. Failing to do so will incur a fee.
It's very common to find special broadband deals that give you a cheaper price for the first few months - you'll see them advertised as something like "£20 for six months, £28 thereafter".
Again, it's not hidden, but it's easy to forget about the upcoming price rise and get a shock in month seven.
If you go for a package with a monthly download limit, you'll most likely get charged if you exceed it. Always check what the over-the-limit rates are charged at so you don't end up out of pocket.