Bundle deals are leaving customers confused and out of pocket, according to a new academic study.
The research carried out by the Post Office, Freeview and the University of Reading found a third of consumers are unhappy with "undecipherable" broadband, TV and homephone bundles, while 42% are hit with higher-than-expected bills.
Bundle deals are a popular choice for consumers as it saves the hassle of organising TV, phone and internet separately and can often appear cheaper, but this study suggests customers are losing out thanks to hidden pricing and small print.
Three quarters of people do not read the small print on their contracts and almost half do not know how long their contracts last for, according to the study.
Professor Alison Black, who headed the study at the university, said 80% of bundle deals advertise six-months offers but tie you in for 12 or 24 months.
"While this is a completely legal practice and something that is replicated across advertising for many other products, but it's easy to see how people find themselves unsure of what their bundle includes," she said.
Professor Black also observed providers employ a technique called 'dripping', "which encourages consumers to absorb only the positive information communicated up front and miss the full scope of the package explained later on".
The research found two thirds of customers don't watch all the channels they pay for.
Hugh Stacey, head of Post Office homephone and broadband, advised customers to take time in choosing a package deal right for them.
"While some deals may seem great value on first glance, the small print can often tell a different story," he said.