18/06/2013 07:10 BST | Updated 18/08/2013 06:12 BST

Broadband Affordability - Watch Out for the Sneaky Offers

With many people feeling the pressure of paying all their monthly bills, the complexity of broadband pricing and the maze of offers available means that there will be confusion behind the real cost of broadband services. People frequently pay over the odds by not shopping around or are taken advantage of by sales staff. They don't realise that internet service often increases in price after a few months.

Free broadband, half price broadband, shopping vouchers and many other combinations of incentives are thrown at us in the adverts. So ask yourself now - how much is the cost of your broadband each month? If it took longer to think of the answer than to read this sentence, you should go and check your bank balance. Also, check if the package requires a telephone line and the price you pay for line rental. While broadband prices have gone down year by year, telephone line rental that was just £10 per month a few years ago, is now invariably around the £15 mark. And if you are on a cheap broadband package, this line rental cost can easily be several times the cost of the broadband.

A large quantity of broadband offers will include deals that might look poor at first glance - but taking the time to investigate further will indicate that these offers are indeed worth it. For example, a £100 voucher is generally worth a lot more than half price broadband for six months, the key is to make sure you claim and use any vouchers or cash back type schemes.

When signing up to a half price for six months type deal, we suggest putting a note on the kitchen calendar for the month when the price reverts back to the standard price. This is especially important after twelve month long offers, as many people will forget that there will be a return to standard pricing when this time period is up.

Also, once you are outside the minimum term for the selected broadband contract, it is worth taking a look at what the current deals are like, or whether your existing provider has changed their pricing or packages resulting in one more suited to your needs. In the past, the best deals were all on limited usage package services (i.e. ones with a GigaByte usage limit), but many providers are now offering entry level products with unlimited usage. As stated earlier, the telephone line rental will often be higher than the price of broadband itself. While there's usually no escape from the expensive line rental, a lot of providers can offer a discount when paying in advance for twelve months. This is definitely worth investigating, since it can reduce the cost of line rental by up to five pounds a month. I would also recommend asking others if they've come across any great deals - this could save you a lot of money, so don't just stick to checking websites.

For those tempted to switch providers, make sure you've figured out the costs of leaving the supplier you're currently with. Although switching between broadband companies is usually simple to do, it can also incur extra costs. Don't commit to a new deal without checking if you'll be charged by your previous provider.

Tracking the cost of your broadband connection and setting reminders to search for the best deals when your minimum contract term is coming to an end may seem overkill when broadband is probably one of the cheapest monthly bills, but it is worth it. I often hear about people who are tied into a three year old package and paying £25 per month compared to the provider's current list price of £12 per month. Providers are in the market to make a profit, so even with those suppliers that do send out updates about new cheaper packages, it is very easy to miss the email.

A final note of caution: don't always believe sales people on the telephone. If you agree to a verbal offer or price reduction, always ensure that you have this confirmed by email or letter. I've often found that these sales people will promise a deal that sounds fantastic, but won't mention that you've actually just agreed to something else which will incur a lot of extra costs or have just started a new 18 month contract by accepting the offer.

So be careful out there - we are all trying to spend less, but firms are becoming more competitive and will always work hard to be the most popular broadband provider.