[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 August 2006, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Beware broadband bargains
Matt Smith
Matt Smith was only two months into his contract when he moved house
When one Working Lunch viewer wanted to cancel his broadband service because he was moving house he was in for a nasty surprise.

Matt Smith was told by Orange that he had to honour his 12 month contact regardless of any change of address.

The only alternative was a bill for 160, representing the unexpired part of the agreement.

"At the moment I can't afford to pay 160 in a lump sum, so I'm still paying on a monthly basis at my old property, even though they are not supplying me with any service whatsoever."

Unhappy

Although Matt is unhappy at having to pay for something he is no longer using, the Orange Broadband website does clearly state that customers are committed for a minimum of 12 months.

Andrew Craig of Webuser magazine told the programme: "As the price of broadband has tumbled, the companies are having to re-coup that money, so to cover their costs and ultimately make a profit they need to ensure you're going to stick around.

"Some companies will offer you a one month contract, but the rock bottom prices normally tie you in for a year."

12 month contracts are now widespread and offered by the major players such as BT, Sky, Telewest and Pipex.

Bargain

Whilst users can expect to pay extra for a short contract, those prepared to commit for a long period should seek out a bargain.

For instance, a broadband package from BT is nearly 1.50 a month cheaper for those taking an 18 month contract rather than a 12 month one.

WHAT'S MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU IN AN INTERNET SUPPLIER?
Price 29%
No usage restriction 26%
Service performance 19%
Connection speed 14%
Customer support 5%
Other 7%

Source: Webuser magazine

A survey by Webuser magazine suggests that for their users at least, price is the most important factor when choosing a supplier.

But respondents also mentioned service performance, connection speed and lack of usage restrictions as other crucial factors.

Users should however look beyond the headline features and read terms and conditions carefully.

Penalties for leaving early can be stiff, and Working Lunch's research suggests that most companies are serious about enforcing them.




FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific