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Customers of TalkTalk's broadband services have expressed confusion about being charged an extra fee for use of the firm's set-top box, even if they are not taking premium TV services from the company.

According to ISPReview.co.uk, consumers have taken to the site's forums to query the new charge, which is £4 a month and shows up on their bill as an 'access fee'.

The cost appears automatically for anyone who has one of TalkTalk's YouView based set-top-boxes, regardless of whether or not they actually pay for the firm's premium TV services.

As a result, people who initially received a box as part of a TV package, but then opted to downgrade and only use the box to access Freeview content, are still being hit with the fee, which ISPReview.co.uk likened to a hardware rental charge.

Responding to unhappy customers, a member of TalkTalk's Community Support Team clarified that those without TV services do not have to pay the fee and can opt out.

In a post, the firm stated the charge is enabled by default as it "encompasses other aspects of the service, such as the ability to add and remove TV boosts with no lengthy contract".

A full statement from TalkTalk continued: “We’ve been investing heavily in our TV service over the past two years to deliver large-scale tech updates and product innovations that bring real benefits to the customer experience, as well as adding more great content.

"Whilst making such improvements has resulted in a price change, TalkTalk TV continues to offer fantastic value for money and customers can save up to £216 a year vs BT, Sky and Virgin Media.”

However, if consumers have no intention of using these services and only wish to access free-to-air TV through the box, they should be able to opt out, though ISPReview.co.uk observed this does not seem to be a particularly customer-friendly solution, as it requires people to proactively confirm they do not wish to be charged for a service they will never use.

It certainly did not go down well with members of the TalkTalk forum, with one user, Stevendm, quoted by the website as saying: "I think it's a bit underhand charging extra for services that don’t apply to me and putting the onus on me to opt out. This will no doubt lead to people just sucking up the £4 increase."

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