The best way to save money on your broadband might be as simple as asking if you can pay less. The idea of haggling for a better deal can feel complicated or stressful, but it is actually a simple process when it comes to broadband. Internet service providers are keen to keep customers and avoid losing business to rival companies. At the same time, businesses are desperate to poach from any competitors. These factors, combined with how easy it is to switch your broadband deal, mean even the biggest name like Sky, Virgin Media and BT are willing to drop advertised prices in order to keep a customer or gain a new one. In this article we will explain how haggling works and give you some top tips to haggle your way to lower bills.
What is haggling?
Haggling is based on the principle that the advertised price of a product is not always final. It is the process of persuading a seller that you should pay less because otherwise you will take your custom elsewhere. It is also referred to as negotiating or bartering and is an increasingly common part of getting a good deal on your broadband package.
When you come to the end of the fixed term of your broadband deal, you will usually be put onto your provider’s standard tariff. This is likely to be significantly more expensive than what you were previously paying. Many customers will stick with this price or switch to a competitor, but the cheapest option is often to haggle the cost with your existing provider.
The effect of trying to haggle can have a big upside and relatively small downside. The worst that can happen is your provider says no, the best that can happen is you save hundreds of pounds over the course of a year.
10 Top tips to haggle for a cheap deal
Haggling is a simple process, but some tactics can be more successful than others. Here are our top tips to help you haggle a provider down to the best possible price.
Get your timing right
The best time to haggle for a new broadband deal is as your current contract is coming to an end. You can still change your broadband deal if you are under contract, but you may need to pay an early cancellation fee. Your provider should warn you when your deal is almost up, so put a date in your diary to ring up and ask for a better price for the day you are the length of your notice period away from the end of the contract. Most deals have a 14 or 31-day notice period.
Make sure you are speaking to the right person
You will need to speak to someone who has the authority to give you the discount you are looking for. This is likely to be a member of call centre staff from the retentions or disconnections department, which is usually easy to reach if you tell the first person you speak to that you are thinking about leaving.
If you are a new customer, it may take a little longer to find someone who can offer you the deal you are looking for. You may find mentioning you are considering switching from a big rival moves you along the chain more quickly.
Find the right tone
It is important to be polite and avoid becoming frustrated. Being put on hold, needing to explain your situation multiple times and dealing with poor phone connections can add up to an antagonising experience. However, the person on the other end of the phone is just doing their job and losing your cool will not get you any further. You are asking for a discount, so you will need to be on the call handler’s good side. Striking up a good rapport, or simply being friendly and personable, is much more likely to get you the deal you are looking for.
Do your research
You will need to know what a good price is and how much the best deal in your area costs. You will also need to know the maximum price you can afford to pay. Some providers will rely on customers not knowing what else is out there, but by doing your research you can challenge claims you are being offered a good deal and make sure you get the price that suits your budget and fits the product you are paying for. Try pointing out a specific deal you have seen advertised elsewhere or a special offer for new customers as a comparison to what you are being offered.
Good research can also help you avoid being upsold products you do not need. For example, a provider might push back on offering you an extra £10 off on the basis you can get a faster broadband package. However, if you do not need the extra speed, that is a waste of money.
You can find more information on broadband speeds in our article ‘What broadband speed do I need?’.
Be ready to follow through
If you are not getting the best deal from your current provider, you will need to be ready to cancel your service. You should know the maximum price you are willing to pay, but if your haggling does not get you the right offer, it may be time to vote with your feet.
If you have an extensive broadband and TV package, think about what you use and what you do not. Cancelling products that you don’t need is the easiest way to cut your bill down.
Can’t quite bring yourself to go all in and cancel? You can always mention that you will need to check with your partner first, then call back later.
Be ready to back down
If you cannot get the exact price you want, it is okay to backtrack and accept an earlier offer. You can push as much as you are comfortable with, but knowing the price you want to pay in advance means that you can always back down on your latest requests and take a deal you are happy with.
Point out faults
If the deal you want is missing features offered by rivals, make sure you point this out. Knowing what price a rival is offering is important, but it is also key to be able to highlight any differences in the broadband package itself. For example, the NOW Broadband router has a significantly lower Which? rating than EE’s router, and Virgin Media’s TV bundle is not as flexible as a Sky TV package. This kind of information can help you show the person you are speaking with that you know what you are talking about, as well as helping you understand what you are paying for.
You should also point out any issues you have had with your service, if you are an existing customer. That could be slow speed, an unreliable connection or even the fact you have been on hold for a long time. It is still important not to come across as angry – the person on the phone does not control your internet speed or how many people are working in customer services that day – but a matter-of-fact listing of problems can be effective.
Silence is your friend. You don’t need to accept the first offer you get and you do not need to fill any silence. You may be on the phone for a while, so make sure you have the time and patience for the long haul. Alternatively, you can try haggling over an online chat service with certain providers.
Sometimes giving up and calling back later can have a big impact. Maybe the first time around you spoke to the wrong person, or someone was just having a bad day. Give it a few days and try again. You might be connected to a more senior member of staff this time, or new deals may have become available.
Don’t show your hand
Avoid telling the provider your budget or how much you are actually willing to spend. You need to have a budget in mind, but you should not share this with the call handler straight away. It is fine to say if you think an offer is expensive, or too much for you, though. Try asking how low they can go, then make your own offer as a starting point.
Ask for freebies
If a provider is unwilling to go down to the price you want to pay, you could suggest bridging the gap with a free gift. This could be a bill credit, a shopping voucher or a piece of tech that company has offered customers in the past, such as a tablet or smart speaker. This sort of gift could be worth more to you than it is to the broadband provider, so could be a great way of finding a deal that works for both sides.
You could also try asking for a discount on a different subscription to balance out your broadband bill. For example, if you are currently paying £30 for broadband and £30 for TV, but you want to pay £20 for your broadband, you could ask for a £5 discount on both bills. This could also work with providers that offer mobile contracts or landline bundles.
How to haggle with Sky
The best way for existing customers to haggle with Sky is to call up to cancel. Even if you have no intention of cancelling, you will need to keep up the pretence in order to get through to someone who can offer you a good deal. The number to call is 0333 759 3625. Ask to speak to the disconnections department, though this may also be referred to as the retentions team.
It is easier to haggle with Sky if you are an existing customer with a TV and broadband bundle. This is because the call handler can use available deals on other products to reduce your overall bill if they are unable to reduce your broadband bill directly. It may even be worth reminding the person you are speaking to that this is an option. £10 off your broadband bill will have the same effect on how much you pay monthly as £10 off your TV bill, assuming both deals have the same contract length.
If you decide to take the nuclear option and cancel, read our article 'How to cancel Sky Broadband' to see if you can leave for free.
You can still haggle with Sky if you are a new customer. Broadband providers are always looking to coax customers away from rivals, so if you have an existing deal with a different provider, there is no harm in seeing if Sky can beat it. Switching is often simple and easy, so there should not be too much stress involved in moving over to a better deal if you can haggle your way to one.
You can find out more about switching your broadband by reading our article ‘How to switch broadband provider’.
How to haggle with Virgin Media
Existing customers can haggle with Virgin Media by calling 0345 454 1111 and selecting the option for “If you’re thinking of leaving Virgin Media”. You may have no plan to leave Virgin Media, but this is the easiest way to trigger the process of speaking to someone who can offer you a cheaper deal.
Alternatively, you could try the live chat facility on the Virgin Media website, though it may be easier to speak to someone on the phone directly if you can.
New customers can haggle with Virgin Media by asking the call handler to better the deal you are being offered by your existing provider. Make sure to mention any other services you would like to get through Virgin Media, such as a mobile deal or TV bundle.
If you can't get the right deal for you, check if you can cancel for free. We have more information in our article 'How to cancel Virgin Media broadband'.
How to haggle with BT
To haggle with BT, call 0800 783 1401. If you are an existing customer, you will need to mention that you are looking to cancel your service. This should get you through to someone who will offer you a discount on your existing deal in order to stop you leaving for a rival. This may seem like a frustrating game to play if you do not want to cancel, but it is the best way to haggle for a cheaper bill. If you feel like the person you are speaking to is unwilling to budge on the deal you are being offered, try politely ending the call and ringing back in a few days. Not every member of the customer service team will be able to offer the best discounts, while top deals will come and go frequently, so a few days can make a big difference.
BT will also haggle with new customers, especially if you are looking to switch over from a rival. Keep in mind that BT offers other services that you might also be able to haggle down in price in order to reduce your total monthly bill. For example, bundling together broadband, TV and phone deals can sometimes lead to significant savings.
If you can't negotiate a good enough deal and decide to cancel, see if you can do so for free by reading our article 'How to cancel BT Broadband'.
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