Switching broadband could cost up to e250
INTERNET: Firms charge exit fee
SEVEN of the country's nine broadband providers charge an exit fee to customers who move to another company.
Only Magnet, which provides a "no contract" service, and Sky do not charge a fee.
Cancelling a contract six months early could cost consumers up to €250, or as much as the remaining value of the contract, depending on the provider.
A survey carried out by comparison service uSwitch.ie showed that 63pc of customers are in the dark about early exit penalties on their broadband contracts.
More that 40pc don't know if they would incur a penalty at all while 22pc are unsure of the amount.
Fewer than one in 10 consumers (7pc) know the exact penalty they could be charged while 30pc are convinced they wouldn't incur a charge.
Eoin Clarke, head of uSwitch offered advice to customers.
"It's now so important that people get to grips not just with the cost [of broadband], but with their contracts too," he said. "There are some great packages and deals available, but failure to understand things such as early exit penalties could end up costing you dear.
"The key thing is to arm yourselves with all the facts before you sign on the dotted line."
Sinead Ryan, Consumer Champion for the Herald, thinks people should approach broadband and other utilities like they approach insurance renewals.
"My advice to consumers would be to find out when their current contract is up from their providers," she said.
"About a month beforehand, look around and see what offers are on the market.
"There may be attractive offers out there at the moment and you might think that you will save when you switch.
"But you could get a nasty surprise when you look to cancel your current contract."
Ms Ryan also noted that no deal is unmissable.
"Many of the offers do look great, but these offers are never unique," she said.
"There is always likely to be something else coming.
"It may be worth paying two direct debits for a short period, but that is very rare."
Ms Ryan said that while bundle contracts can be handy in many ways, they can be awkward to switch out of.
She warned they may not be cheaper either.
"Consumers should check with Bonkers.ie or uSwitch.ie to find out if they could save," she said.