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How to haggle for the best broadband deal

By Jon Barrow

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How to haggle for the best broadband deal

Many of us are reluctant to haggle. But we shouldn't be – it really can get you a better deal. Follow these top tips to save money.

Broadband isn't cheap. Despite the low headline prices plastered across ads, the true monthly cost can be significant once any introductory offers have expired.

Sign up for a cheap broadband package and your bank account will be around £20 lighter each month. And that's on top of an initial activation fee.

Throw in some TV to your package – and many providers will certainly suggest you do – and you could easily end up paying double that every month. Certainly not pocket change.

Best broadband providers - ensure you're happy with your broadband supplier by choosing a Which? Recommended Provider.

Save money on broadband - haggle!

Whether you're looking for a new deal, or are an existing customer, you can still save money. How? By haggling with your provider to get the best deal.

You may be nervous about trying it, but our latest survey of more than 5,000 people found that the majority have given it a go with at least one of their service providers, be it car insurance, home insurance or broadband.

Many still aren’t haggling with their broadband providers, though – in our survey just 12% of broadband customers had given it go.

If you haven’t tried it, there’s a decent chance you’re paying more than you need to. And it doesn’t have to be daunting - around two thirds of people who have haggled told us they found it easy.

The rewards you can earn by haggling

The broadband customers we surveyed saved an average of £120 a year by haggling. The saving was even more impressive for people who have a combined broadband and TV package - £216 a year, on average.

An overwhelming 89% of standalone broadband customers who haggled were offered a discount, incentive or better deal.

How to haggle with your broadband provider

Here are our five tips to help you haggle:

1 - Preparation is key

It's vital to do your research if you're looking to perfect the art of haggling. If you appear knowledgeable, you're more likely to get a better deal. Spend some time online comparing rival deals for similar packages - price comparison sites make this easy to do. Make a note of the different prices, but also keep an eye on any additional extras included. For example - a deal that offers three months free BT Sports subscription for taking out a new contract with a rival (whether or not you're interested in BT Sports) might help to convince your current provider to go that bit further.

2 - Build your case

Check how long you’ve been with your provider and note down any issues you’ve had during this time - it’s extra information that you can use as leverage. If you take multiple services from one provider, keep that in mind, too, as it means you’re a high-value customer. But be prepared to enter into a new contract for all of your services to get the best deal. If this isn't something you want to do - for example you're not sure you'd like to keep Sky TV for 12 months, but definitely want the broadband, be clear about it in advance.

3 - Call your provider and ask for a discount

Let them know you’ve seen some competitive offers for a similar service and ask whether these can be matched or beaten. If you have reasons for not be able to afford the price – your main income is a state pension, for example, or you simply don't use the service that often – mention that too. Be polite and pleasant, but persistent.

4 - Still not happy with their offer? 

What if your provider refuses to budge? If you're tied to a lengthy contract, this could be difficult - standard practice if you want to leave is to pay the remainder of the contract in order to cancel. If you are out of your main contract (and currently on a rolling contract), or your provider has announced price increases within the past 30 days, this is a far stronger position. Here you can state that regrettably you'll have to consider leaving the service. Don't worry if you're not seriously considering switching, though - you'll be asked to confirm that this is final before anything is set in stone. If your provider doesn't offer to connect you to a cancellation department at this point, ask to speak to someone in cancellations or retention. 

5 - See what the retention team can offer you 

The retention team can usually offer far better deals than their colleagues in customer service. You'll have to explain again why you want to leave, and should restate your position - again calmly and politely. It's the retention team's job to talk you out of leaving, so don't budge unless they can offer you a discount you're happy with. If you're still not getting anywhere and definitely don’t want to change providers anyway, tell the adviser you’d like to go away and think about things and end the call. The provider might come back to you, but you can also wait a while and have another go – you might have better luck with a different adviser.

Woman using laptop

Things to think about when you haggle

Watch out for what you’re trading off for a deal. Sometimes providers will give you a saving but lock you into longer terms – for example, saying they’ll give you six months free but then extend the length of your contract. If you’re fine with this, then take the deal. If you aren’t, ask them to refocus.

Keep in mind that your provider is expecting customers to haggle – they set up pricing so they can issue discounts to those who ask. If you're determined to get a discount, hold out for one and don't be blinded by incentives. The vast majority of people we spoke to were offered a discount in the end.

Carefully consider what's on the table. A provider won't always offer a discount - sometimes they may suggest upgrading part of your current package free of charge - for example, offering free evening and weekend calls for no extra cost. Consider how much this is really worth to you, and turn it down if it's not appealing.

Even though the majority of people still haggle over the phone, if hassle or the fear of an awkward conversation is holding you back, you could use live online chat instead. One Which? member told us that, this way, you also get to have a written record of what was agreed.

Switching

We know from our survey that haggling will usually go to plan, but there can be times when the deals simply aren't forthcoming. If that happens, we suggest waiting a few days and trying again, but if you still can't get what you want, then it's time to switch. Our guide, how to switch broadband provider, explains all you need to know about the switching process.

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