Understanding broadband charges
Knowing and understanding what’s on your bills is really important, so you can be sure you’re being charged correctly.
Reading our bills is not something most of us find too exciting - in fact, research carried out for Switcher.ie shows that around half of us simply trust our providers to get our bills right.
What details and charges can I expect to see on my broadband bill?
In terms of basic information, which can sometimes be contained in a bill summary by your provider, you’ll see the following:
- General information, including your name, address, and account number.
- Main billing information, such as the billing date, the overall amount due, and the payment due date.
- Balance brought forward, which is any outstanding amount from your last bill.
- Charges, for the billing period - this will include details for all elements of your service, so if you have a phone plan, you’ll see charges for this, along with the broadband charges.
Then, depending on what type of broadband you have, and whether you have a broadband-only plan, or you bundle with broadband and/or phone, you’ll see some or all of the following charges:
- Line rental, for the phone element of your plan (these can also sometimes be charged for ADSL broadband plans, as the connection runs off a phone line).
- Bundle charges or recurring charges, which is the monthly cost of the bundle you’re signed up to.
- Usage charges, if you have a pay-as-you-use phone plan, or have gone over your plan’s allocated minutes.
- Wireless router charges, which can sometimes be charged monthly - although most providers will either provide the router for free, or charge a once-off fee when you sign up.
- Excess use charges, if you’ve exceeded your monthly download limit - these fees are typically charged for each gigabyte over the maximum limit.
Your bill will also detail any discount applied to your bundle or package, so make sure you check this to ensure the correct discount has been applied, and it matches what you signed up to.
Irish broadband providers - how to understand their bills
Most broadband providers now have great bill guides on their websites, which will show a sample bill, outlining all of the information contained within it and explaining the fees and charges.
If you’re confused about your bill, this should be your first port of call, as it’s likely to answer any questions you may have.
Are there set-up charges, or additional charges for specific types of broadband?
Aside from your standard monthly charges for your broadband package, when you sign up it’s likely you’ll also have to pay installation/set-up costs, and possibly pay for a wireless router - although some providers include these free of charge.
On top of these charges, remember that ADSL broadband requires a landline to operate. If you don’t currently have one, you may need to pay a set-up charge to connect your residential line.
Meanwhile, if you have mobile broadband, you may need to pay a once-off fee for a dongle, if you’re using one to access the service. And, if you’re using your mobile broadband abroad, be aware that you’ll be subject to similar roaming charges as you would be charged for using data on your phone overseas.
What is your download allowance? What if you go over?
A download allowance on a broadband plan relates to the amount of data you can use each month. Many plans now have virtually unlimited data allowances (although a lot of these are subject to fair usage limits), but if you do have a plan with a download allowance, it’s definitely something you should keep an eye on.
This is because you could be facing excess charges each time you go over your download limit - these are normally charged for each GB over the maximum limit. Sometimes, instead of applying charges, providers will slow down your connection, which can be really frustrating.
Should I opt for an unlimited broadband deal to avoid additional charges?
If you live in a busy household, or you download or stream a lot of content using your home internet connection, opting for an unlimited broadband plan could save you, as you’ll pay a set amount each month, regardless of how much data you use.
I’ve been overcharged on my broadband bill - what can I do?
While mistakes on bills are rare, they do happen - so it’s important you review your bills regularly, particularly because so many of us are now paying by Direct Debit, which means the bill amount comes out automatically, without any action from us.
If you do review your bills and there is anything you don’t understand, or you think you have been overcharged, you should contact your provider directly. They will be able to rectify any issues and refund you, where appropriate. You can find more information on your rights as a broadband customer in our dedicated guide.
I want to move broadband provider - do I have to pay cancellation charges?
All broadband contracts have what’s known as a ‘minimum term’ - usually 12-18 months - and if you cancel within this time you will have to pay what’s known as an ‘early exit fee’. These charges can be high, with some providers even requiring you to pay the monthly charge for the rest of the contract - although they’re usually capped.
This is why it’s really important to check out the contract minimum term before signing up. Remember also that you’ve always got a 14-day cooling-off period, so if you sign up and you’re not happy with the service or performance, you can cancel during this time with no penalty.
Even if you’re out of your minimum term, remember you will need to give your provider notice if you wish to cancel your contract. This is usually 30 days, but be sure to check it in your contract. Giving the relevant notice before switching to a new provider will ensure you receive a final bill from your current provider who will close your account once this is paid.
It’s also worth noting that broadband and phone companies are starting to appreciate that customers don’t always want to be tied into a long contract and, as a result, we’re seeing more and more no-contract plans. These can be a great option if you’re on a short-term lease, or want to try out a service before committing to a longer deal.