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A large number of broadband contract holders are being hit by charges hidden in small print, according to the results of a newly-released study.

Data from a survey carried out by moneysupermarket.com shows that 27 per cent of broadband users pay out an average of £36 per year on these extra costs.

Add-ons for paper billing (9 per cent) and making non direct debit payments (7 per cent) were found to be among the common stealth charges hitting the pockets of broadband subscribers.

"Although we've seen telecom bills fall in the past year, providers are still clawing back millions with unnecessary charges, many of which are unfair," commented James Parker, mobiles and broadband manager at moneysupermarket.com.

He went on to call for action: "Ofcom should look at either eradicating these charges or imposing strict caps to protect the consumer."

It was discovered that out of the customers paying extra costs, those signed up to BT were hit the hardest, at an average of £51 per year.

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