How to Haggle

If you've been paying full whack for the same old broadband package with the same old provider for years, you are seriously missing out.

New customers bag amazing deals and offers such as £100 vouchers and half price broadband for a year for the same or better service.

The reality is the best prices tend to be reserved for new customers, so existing customers lose out on the cracking deals.

Many of us are reluctant to haggle - it seems very "un-British", but we shouldn't be, as it really can get you a better deal.

Who are the best providers to haggle with?

Haggling a discount on your broadband is one of the easiest ways to cut costs on your monthly bills and because there are so many brilliant deals on the market, you'll have a lot of leverage when it comes to persuading your current provider to reduce your bills.

Speaking to your provider could also net you faster speeds, a bigger download limit, a new and better router, and possibly some other freebies, as well as a better price.

And what's the worst that could happen? If they won't negotiate with you, you can always switch and get a better deal with someone else.

MoneySavingExpert did a poll asking their users who had managed to bag a discount haggling who their providers were. It came back that the best brands to negotiate with were Sky, Virgin and PlusNet.

That is not to say that you can't get a discount with other providers - especially if you do your homework and go in prepared.

Preparing to haggle

If you pick up the phone without knowing exactly what you use now, and what you want - there's a good chance you're not going to come away with the best deal possible.

You want to put the best case together and come up with a strategy - which sounds harder than it is. Here is what you need to do to ensure you haggle to the best of your ability.

Assess your situation

First of all, you should make sure that you understand exactly what you are paying each month and what you get in return.

Find out, whether it is by checking your letters and emails or calling them up, what sort of level of broadband speed they said you would get before joining. Does it match up with what you're actually getting?

Check if you signed up to a minimum term contract that will penalise you if you try to leave early. It is worth remembering that you are in a much stronger bargaining position at the end of the contract.

REMEMBER: Bear in mind that if you want to cancel your service after a promotional period ends - don't hang about and do it early. If you don't, you may get stuck with a one month bill at full price if you wait until the end of the contract to cancel because there's generally a notice period.

Research what's out there

If you don't know what you could get, you're more likely to get fobbed off by the customer service representative on the phone.

You need some leverage, and there are two ways to get it:

  1. See what your provider is offering new customers
  2. See what competing service providers are offering

Whatever you do, don't just look at one service - try to research as many as possible and write down the prices, deals and packages you like the look of.

Information you need

As well as the basics such as what you are paying, what they said you would get etc - check the following to make sure you have the best argument prepared before you "go into battle".

Monitor your broadband speed

Doing a couple of speed checks at different times during the day will give you an idea of the actual speeds you're receiving.

If those speeds are way off your package's advertised speed, you could try asking for a discount, as the service is slower than what you're paying for.

Know your broadband usage

We use a load of data on our home broadband and it can be difficult to track. From emails, streaming videos, using apps - well anything online - will contribute to your usage.

Provides usually set their charges based on the volume of data used. This is measured in megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB).

Unless you've paid for unlimited broadband, you have a data limit and keeping on top of your usage is vital.

If you're only a casual user, and know you're only on Facebook, sending emails etc, 10GB should be more than enough.

You only really need big packages if you do a lot of online gaming, downloading or most of your entertainment comes from online (you stream TV on your computer rather than watching it on an actual TV for example).

It's worth keeping tabs on your usage before trying to haggle, using a free bandwidth monitor.

You should be emailed (or posted) your data usage monthly when your bills come through, but if not you can call or check online.

Once you've got your monthly figures, work out whether it's possible to negotiate a deal by downgrading your package to a lower usage limit, and thus cut your costs.

Pay line rental upfront for a discounted rate

Paying for the entire year in one fell swoop is often the simplest way to make a big saving on line rental.

BT, Plusnet, TalkTalk and Sky all offer a much cheaper deal on line rental for customers who pay 12 months in advance.

If your provider offers the option, choosing to pay upfront is usually the cheapest way to get line rental. You can try asking if it can switch you onto this to help you save.

However beware paying upfront, there's a risk of losing your cash if the provider goes bust. This risk is bigger with smaller companies.

Have the information handy

Picking up the phone to a trained sales person with an agenda is a pretty daunting prospect. Doing it without all the information handy is really setting you off on the back-foot.

This is going to go better if you know exactly what you want to say and have written down in front of you.

The majority of what they will say isn't a mystery, so prepare the answers like you are in a job interview. For example, the customer service person is going to ask you why you want to leave.

There are various different ways to go:

  1. Say the service is too expensive and you don't feel like you're getting the best deal
  2. Say you've been offered a better deal by another provider
  3. Say you're unhappy with the standard of service

Whatever the case, write it down. You need to have all the information that you researched about your account and alternative deals laid out in front of you so you can quote it.

Our top 10 broadband haggling tips

  1. Do your homework - Have better offers from alternative suppliers and your latest detailed bill to hand before you contact your current supplier.
  2. Be persistent and be willing to leave - There are cheaper prices and better options out there.
  3. Stick to what you have researched - Don't get drawn into deals that are completely different, and can't be easily compared with any of the alternatives on offer. Remember that you are talking to trained salespeople with their own agendas (and targets to hit).
  4. Look carefully at the service being provided - Is it actually what you want? Or what you really need? Don't get carried away with any old offer.
  5. If you don't have any luck, try again later - Bagging a broadband bargain often depends on who you are talking to and when. If it doesn't work - call back on a different day as you will almost certainly get a different customer services person.
  6. Be as nice as possible - If you go in with a bad attitude or get angry, the negotiation just isn't going to go well for you. You're asking for a discount and they're well within their rights not to give it.
  7. Tell them your problems - If you've had problems with the company - politely let them know. It gives your more leverage.
  8. Time it right - Call centre workers are more likely to be up for negotiation at slower business times. It's best to call at the end of the month as the salesperson is likely to have targets to meet.
  9. Get to the retentions department - You don't want to waste your time trying to get a discount from a standard member of the call centre. They don't have the power to give you the best discounts. Tell them that you think you may need to leave and you'll be put through to the retentions department who will do what they can to get you to stay.
  10. Don't say yes to the first offer - Lesson one of negotiating school - don't accept the first offer, because there will be more coming your way which are better.

Be prepared to switch

Nine times out of ten, a haggle will go to plan - but there can be times when the deals just aren't good enough. It is worth waiting a few day and trying again, but if you still can't get what you want, it's time to switch.

Ok sure, switching seems like an absolutely faff - but it doesn't have to be. You need to find the right deal and the new provider will tell you what you need to do. Voila! Cheaper broadband.

And don't worry, you do have a 14 calendar day period from the date you enter a new contract with a new provider in which you have a right to cancel your request to switch without being charged if you change your mind.

Some contracts are reduced in price if you already have services with the supplier.

For example, if you have BT Broadband, you save £5 per month on a BT Mobile SIM, or if you add an additional EE SIM to your account you can save money too.

Select any of the products you already have below to ensure that you find the best deals available.
The UK has four licenced network operators: EE, Telefonica UK (O2), Three and Vodafone providing services using a variety of mobile technologies.

There are a number of other companies that provide mobile network services such as Tesco, giffgaff and Virgin. These are known as MVNO (mobile virtual network operators) which lease network capability from one of the four licenced operators.

These are all listed below so you can determine which of the four network operators provides service.

EE O2 Three Vodafone
ASDA giffgaff ID Mobile Lebara
BT Mobile Lycamobile Three Sainsburys
co-op O2 Talkmobile
EE Tesco Mobile Vodafone
Family mobile
The People's Operator
Utility Warehouse
Virgin Mobile