Almost half of broadband customers are put off haggling with their provider because it is too much hassle or they don't think they will save money. But those who do negotiate - or switch to a new provider - save an average of £120 a year, according to our latest research.
We asked more than 5,000 broadband customers how much they paid for their broadband, whether they had haggled for a new deal or switched in the past 12 months and if so, how much they saved.
Nearly half of customers told us they had never contacted their current provider to ask for a better deal, while 38% had never switched provider (and 24% had not switched for more than three years). But we found that switching and negotiating with your broadband provider are the two key ways you can avoid paying higher prices.
If you're happy with the provider you're with, you might feel reluctant to switch away just to get a better price. But negotiating a better deal with your provider means you can stick with your current deal and pay less.
When we asked customers who had negotiated with their provider in the past two years, more than three quarters told us they were offered an incentive, discount or a better deal as a result. The average reduction in price was £120 a year. But nearly half of the customers we surveyed told us they'd never given haggling a try.
In 40% of cases this was because customers said they were happy with the current price they were paying. But almost a quarter of customers who hadn't given haggling a go said it was because they thought it would be too much hassle.
Yet, of those who had given it a try, the majority said they found the process easy - only a quarter of people said they'd had any difficulty.
Haggling can sound more daunting than it actually is. It's not like randomly asking for a discount in a supermarket or high street shop - broadband providers both expect customers to do this, and even invite it. And, if you don't fancy a long call, most providers will allow you to do it online using live chat instead.
If you're unhappy with the service you're getting, switching provider is the obvious option. When we asked how much those who switched saved as a result, we found the average amount was the same as for those who haggle - £120 a year.
Most of those who had switched told us they'd done so to get a better deal - no wonder, given that providers tempt new customers with cheap offers - but more than one in five moved
to escape connection issues. 71% of those who switched provider said the process was easy, though 27% experienced time without an internet connection as a result.
But, in the majority of cases, switching is straightforward. Most customers will only need to contact one provider - the company they are moving to - and it will take care of the switch. This is known as 'gaining provider-led' switching and is in place for all the providers using the Openreach network including , , , , , and .
However, those switching to or from a separate network (such as the cable one used by ) will have to go through the 'cease and re-provide' process. This means asking the previous provider to switch the old connection off and the customer having to coordinate the move to the new provider themselves.
Next year, Ofcom will consult on changes to the switching process with the aim of making the process of changing between providers much easier for customers.
If you're not happy with your broadband provider and are outside of your minimum contract period (usually 12, 18 or 24 months), it's worth considering switching to a new deal.