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Ask the expert: Do broadband deals include line rental?

Monday, August 14th 2017 by Dan Howdle
It wasn’t all that long ago that broadband and line rental were separated out from one another making it very hard to determine how much you’d ultimately be paying. And though separate line rental is a thing of the past there still remains a shadow of uncertainty over whether the price you see will be the price you pay. Allow me to illuminate…

In May of last year (2016), the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) announced that after looking into the way broadband had been advertised thus far, it had decided that the separation of ‘broadband’ and ‘line rental’ misled the public, drawing them in with ludicrously low prices that – once line rental and other ‘extras’ were thrown in – bore no resemblance whatsoever to what they would ultimately pay.

Broadband deals from all the biggest providers added compulsory line rental at around £17-£19 per month, and while providers did usually write ‘plus X amount per month line rental’ somewhere near the headline price, it tended to be placed, styled and sized in such a way as to avoid attention.

Thanks to the ASA ruling, which came into force on October 31 of last year (2016), line rental is now included in all advertised pricing. The cost of line rental is still there, I would add. It hasn’t gone anywhere, and most provider will still list it separately during the sales process, and indeed on your bill.

Still hidden costs?

The difference now is they are not allowed to advertise it separately, which does not preclude providers from treating it as a separate cost. But is this the end of the story, or are broadband providers still using underhanded methods to draw you in with prices that are lower than what you’ll ultimately pay?

Well, as with before the ruling, the headline prices still almost never lasts the length of the contract, rather only the front end of it (the first six months, say) after which time it’s often doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled.

And, as a general rule, the cheaper the deal, the more unforeseen costs are still sneaked in at various stages of the sales process. The very cheapest broadband deals, for example, tend to charge for postage on the router (£7-£10), and add a one-off fee of around £50 under the auspices of ‘installation’ ‘set-up’ ‘line transfer’ ‘one-off’ ‘up-front’ or some other vague terminology.

It’s theoretically possible to go to our generic provider and subscribe to a broadband deal that costs £21.50 per month for the first six months, then £32 for the next twelve, with internet security that’s free for a month, then £3 per month for 17 months, has unlimited anytime calls that are free for three months then £5 per month for 15 months, a £35 one-off installation fee, a £15 line connection fee, a £1.89 fee for using your debit or credit card, and £6.99 for the postage of your router.

Still more to be done?

It can still be very confusing, and clearly there is more work to be done. In the meantime, however, I recommend carefully reading everything as you move through the purchase process, ensuring that you understand each and every cost that applies, specifically those paid up front, as these can often be sneakily hidden. To save you some time, here is a selection of deals with no up-front costs at all (and, of course, with line rental included).

Tomorrow I’ll be writing a blog specifically about broadband with no up-front costs, but for now, check these out…

  • Vodafone Unlimited Fibre 38

    Vodafone
    • Pay nothing today
    • Free Vodafone Connect router
    £25
    Zero set-up cost includes line rental See Deal
  • First Utility First Broadband

    First Utility
    • Pay nothing today
    • Free wireless router
    £18 .99
    Zero set-up cost includes line rental See Deal
  • TalkTalk Faster Fibre 38Mb

    TalkTalk
    • Pay nothing today
    • Includes Super Router
    Offer ends 21st December, No fibre setup fee & Fixed price for the contract length
    £27 .50
    Zero set-up cost includes line rental See Deal

Dan Howdle, Cable.co.uk

Dan Howdle is Cable.co.uk’s resident telecoms expert. Dan appears regularly in the UK press to talk about issues faced by UK consumers on matters of broadband, TV and mobile, and has appeared on BBC Breakfast, ITV News, Sky News, and on a number of BBC and non-BBC UK radio stations. If you have a question for Dan, you can email him at expert@cable.co.uk.

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