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How to haggle for the best mobile phone deals

By Jon Barrow

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How to haggle for the best mobile phone deals

Many of us are reluctant to haggle. But we shouldn't be – it can often get you a better deal. Follow our top tips to save money on your mobile phone contract.

You can cut a significant chunk off the annual cost of your mobile phone contract by making one quick call.

Which? research found that all the major mobile phone companies can be swayed by customers who phone up and haggle for a better deal.

Here, we explain how to haggle to get a discount or better terms - or both.

Best mobile phone providers - see which providers impressed in our regular customer satisfaction survey.

Which mobile phone companies offer discounts? 

In our latest haggling research we spoke to more than 5,000 people and asked about their haggling experiences.

We found that mobile phone customers that haggled with their provider saved an average of £72 on their annual bill. What's more, the majority of those who haggled told us they found it easy.

What you'll be offered

Your provider may offer you something other than a discount to stop you from leaving -  more than a quarter of people who successfully haggled over their phone contract were offered a higher extra limit.

But, 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.

How to haggle for the best deal

There's far more competition in the mobile providers market than there used to be, which makes it easier to haggle for a better deal. If you're out of contract, you should always shop around to see if you could pay less. Follow our five-step plan: 

1 - Know your limits

Haggling for the best deal with your mobile provider takes a bit of preparation. The first thing you need to do is work out how many minutes, texts and how much data you use per month. If you don't know this already you can find out from your previous bills. Our guide on how to keep track of your data and minutes also offers some helpful advice.

2 - Check the competition

Next, find out how much you could be paying for this size of bundle with other providers by searching around online for good Sim-only deals. These may be on a rolling monthly contract, or a longer 12 or 18-month contract, though it's always better to stick with the former when possible. Note down the prices and what you get in the bundle.

3 - Call your provider

Now it's time to present your case. Call your provider and tell them you'd like a discount on your mobile phone contract - wait to see what they offer. If the discount isn't as big as you'd like, use the other deals you've found online as evidence that you could pay less elsewhere.

4 - Good deal? Don't forget to read the small print

If your provider has come back with a deal you're happy with, check to see if this involves you signing a new 12 or 18-month contract. Often a provider will offer a reduction provided you sign up with them for a longer period, which isn't ideal. It's always better to stick with a rolling monthly contract, which offers more flexibility.

5 - No deal? What to do next

Your provider isn't willing to budge - but all is not lost. The next stage is to say that you want to cancel and switch to another provider. Ask to speak to the cancellations or retention team, who are often able to give you a better deal. If you still don't have any luck, you can tell them you'll think about it and end the call, just in case they get back in touch to improve their offer. At this stage though, it may well be worth switching. 

What to say when you call your mobile phone provider

Want some pointers? You can boost your chances of getting a discount on your mobile phone contract by using our tried and tested haggling script.  

1 - 'I'm not sure I'm getting the best deal on my mobile and I'm thinking of cancelling.'

Wait for the initial response as you may be put through to a specialist cancellation team. If you are put through, or even if you are still with the original provider, next say:  

2 - 'I think I'm paying too much. My friend has a much better deal with a better phone and more minutes - so I think I'm missing out.'

Here, it's better to flag a specific deal that you've seen offered elsewhere. Even if you are offered some incentives by the provider to stay at this point, it's worth pushing a little harder.

3 - 'Is that the best that you can give me? I was hoping for a bigger saving/more minutes/more texts/more data than that.'

Select which incentive suits you best. If you're happy with the deal offered to you, you can sign up then and there.

When it's time to switch

If all else fails, it may be time to switch. Outside the big four - O2, Vodafone, EE and Three, a wide range of operators are now competing for your business, and some of them offer great value for money on Sim-only deals. Switching is easy, and you should be able to keep your old number:

  • Request a Sim card from the new provider. You should be sent this in the post, and it's usually free.
  • Call your current provider and tell them you'd like to leave. Assuming you are out of contract, your service will stop at the next billing date. Check with your provider to find out when this is.
  • Request a PUK code from your current provider.
  • The day before your contract is due to terminate, register your new Sim card, using the PUK code, with the new provider. You should be sent instructions on how to do this with the Sim.
  • On your termination day, when you notice your phone no longer has a signal, swap the old Sim card for the new one. Your phone service, and number, should be picked up automatically, leaving you up and running with your new deal.

Ready to switch? Check our mobile phone provider reviews to see which come out on top.

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