5 steps to haggle down your bills

Cut your broadband, mobile and TV bills without moving provider.

Often the biggest savings come from switching to a different provider, combining new customer offers and cashback to get the same service for less elsewhere.

Of course, sometimes moving away isn’t going to work. Perhaps you’ve got an email address linked to the broadband company URL. Maybe it’s the only way you can get some of the channels you want. Or perhaps you just want to keep things as easy as possible and are worried about getting a poorer service elsewhere.

But even if you’re happy to ditch and switch, you might be able to get a matching or better deal WITHOUT moving. And it’s all down to haggling. Here are my five steps to help you get a better deal without switching.

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If you want to watch me discuss this on Steph’s Packed Lunch it’ll be on catch up for a while (episode from 31 January 2023)

One: Work out what you’ve got and what you need

Before you even think about haggling, you need to check a few things on your existing deal:

  • Are you in contract? If yes, when does it end?
  • How much are you paying?
  • What are you getting for your money?

The first bullet is the most important as if you’re in contract you won’t have as much power in your negotiations. In fact you’ll probably be told nothing can be done, unless there have been some major service issues. And if you do try to ditch them you’ll face a hefty termination fee.

Once you’ve found this out (it should be on your bill), check what your monthly bills are. It might be a surprise as often we get welcome deals when we join, but prices creep up over the years.

Then look at what you get as part of your package. Scrutinise each element for the following:

  • Do you use it?
  • Do you need it?

It could well be you’ve got channels you never watch, or so much data that it’ll be impossible for you to use it in daily life. Or perhaps you’re paying for a landline you never, ever use. If this is the case, work out what you actually do want to keep.

Two: Work out what other providers charge

Now you know what you want and how much you’re currently paying, see how much it’d cost you at a different provider. If you’re looking at scrapping or reducing your existing service it’s worth seeing how much this lower tier package would cost with your existing provider too, especially for new customers.

You can go direct to some supplier’s sites, or better still use a comparison site to find the cheapest options out there. Use this information to set a benchmark the most you’d be willing to pay for the service.

I’d also see if there are additional welcome deals or any cashback on offer, while third parties can sometimes be cheaper than going direct, especially when it comes to mobile phone SIMs.

You should factor in any extras too, which might be worth paying a little more for, such as O2 Priority which comes with O2 or Virgin Media (as long as you’re going to use it).

Bundles can bring extra savings, though they will tie you into the same company across multiple products.

Check too there aren’t alternatives that might save you even more such as ditching Sky or Virgin TV for NOW, or using a “virtual network” to get the same mobile signal as the big providers.

Three: Call up and say you want to leave

Now it’s time to get on the phone (or live chat, though that will take longer). Don’t get nervous – this is just a chat. Remember, always be polite!

The first person you talk to likely won’t have access to the best deals, so you’ll want to get put through to a team often known as “retentions”. To get there you’ll want to say you’d like to leave the provider.

Don’t worry if you’ve no intention of doing this, as you’ll have time to “change your mind” later on. But it’ll get you to the people with power.

They’ll want to know why you’re going. Lead here with the price. Say you’ve found deals elsewhere that are far cheaper (that’s what the research was for). Tell them you can’t afford the price you’re paying right now.

But if you’ve also had technical issues or don’t feel you’ve got value for money so far, then throw that in too.

Four: Don’t take the first offer

The first offer you get will likely try to upsell you. Perhaps they’ll say you can have even more data or more channels for just a quid or two more. It might seem like a bargain if they’d normally cost you a lot more. But do you actually need those extras? If not, your bills are going up, not down!

And even if they offer these for free, with no extra charge, it’s still not going to save you cash. Personally I’d reject these and reiterate you need to save money.

Remember if you are happy to downgrade your package this can bring down the price too, though don’t forget that you’ve researched those prices for this level from other providers.

Keep saying no until they say they can’t reduce it any further. When that happens you can push it even further and call their bluff.

Say you’d still like to leave and give them your notice. Don’t worry! You can call back beforehand to stop the cancellation.

There’s no guarantee, but what might happen next is their customer service team could call back and offer you an even better deal. And if they don’t you can always call back and say you want to cancel the cancellation.

Andy’s haggling savings

Over the years I’ve tended to switch away for the best deal; regularly cutting the cost of mobile SIMs and broadband. TV too before I ditched it completely.

But for the last five years, I’ve stuck with the same broadband provider – Virgin Media – and used haggling to cut my bill.

Every time there’s a price increase or my contract ends I get on the phone and see what can be done.

The offer usually ends up around 50% less than the full price. It means I’ve saved more than £1,600 in that time.

Perhaps I could have paid less elsewhere, but I’d have sacrificed the speed I get. Instead I’m getting what I need for a price that’s hard to beat.

Five: Decision time

At some point you’ll have their best and final offer so you’ve got to decide if it’s enough to make you stick around.

If it’s not the same or cheaper than what you can get elsewhere, is it worth paying more to stay put? Or should you just move for a better deal elsewhere?

Whichever you opt for, make a note in your diary for when this next contract ends so you can do this all over again.

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