How to haggle with your broadband provider

Woman paying mobile phone bill by phone

Haggling with your broadband provider is easier than you might think, and could result in great savings. But how do you do it? 

Haggling may be a fun way to save a few pounds on holiday souvenirs if you’re bartering in the markets in Marrakesh. But you can also adopt the same habits to help cut the cost of services and goods in your own back yard.

Cutting back on household bills and getting the best broadband deal is even more important right now, especially when broadband providers can – and do – often hike the price of your monthly bill mid-contract.

Even if you’re happy with your broadband service and supplier, it’s still worth trying to haggle down the price to get a better deal.

It may feel awkward at first if you’re not used to it, but 49% of broadband customers admit to having a haggle with their provider. Plus you can save an average of £43 on your broadband bill this way, according to Which?, and as much as £90 with a combined broadband and TV package.

Here’s our eight tips to haggle down and save on the price of your broadband bill and when to do it.

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How to haggle

1. Timing is everything. Once you sign a contract – whether it’s one, two or more years – you’re tied in. This means if three months into your new broadband contract, you spot a cheaper deal, you’re unlikely to have much luck trying to haggle with your provider.

While you can chop and change contracts at any point, this can leave you out of pocket, as you’ll usually be clobbered with hefty penalty fees for switching mid-term.

The best thing to do is check when your contract ends, and go in for a haggle around 30 days before it’s up. This is the best time as it sends a message to your provider that you’re ‘shopping around’, rather than just paying out and sticking with the same deal. It means they may be more likely to discount to keep you as a customer.

And if you’re already out of contract, then you can haggle any time you like!

2. Do your homework first. To stand the best chance of getting the best deal you need to show you’re one step ahead. This means finding the best broadband deal, by checking out competitors’ offers, knowing their prices and what you’ll get for your money.  

You can easily shop around and compare broadband deals, making a note of the deals and prices that suit your needs, so you can flag them up with your existing provider.

If you’re on a low income, or claiming certain benefits, you may be eligible for a social broadband tariff, which you can ask your provider about.

These deals are cheaper than standard broadband deals and can start from around £12 per month.

3. Get through to the ‘power people’. Once you’ve got an idea of the deal you want – it’s time to get in touch.

We think the best way is always to pick up the phone. After all, these companies are in the business of communication. But don’t launch into your haggling speech with the first person you speak to.

The trick is to ask for ‘disconnections’ or ‘retentions’ or press the ‘thinking of leaving us’ button. All these options usually get you through to the ‘power people’ – the team with the authority to agree the biggest discounts to keep you as a customer.

4. Be friendly and polite, getting them on side. It’s a good idea to treat haggling like a game. If you go in being friendly and polite – rather than stroppy – you’ve more chance of getting what you want.

Start by explaining that you’re happy with your broadband package, just not the price, or that you want a cheaper deal. Explaining what you want is the first step to getting the negotiation going.

5. Give it everything you’ve got. If you’re haggling for something in person – say, trying to knock down the price of a new car or TV – you’d usually point out any flaws or problems to try and knock down the price.

And you can adopt the same tactics when haggling down the cost of your broadband package.  

If you’ve had problems with poor broadband speeds, broadband outages, or delays sorting issues in the past, bring all this up during your haggle.   

Bundling other services can also mean cheaper bills than paying for your broadband and TV separately, so if other contracts are close to renewal, this could also be a good bargaining chip if you’re looking for a cheaper price.

6. Ask for the deal in writing. If you’re offered a better deal and are happy with it, it’s worth repeating the terms of it during the call to clarify what’s been agreed.  

With calls being recorded, it’s proof of the conversation. And while providers usually email you a confirmation of your deal, make sure you ask for this too and check it when it comes through.

7. Have a plan B. If you’re not offered the deal you want, or can’t get the price down, it’s worth having a Plan B – so you don’t rashly give notice to end your existing contract or end up agreeing to a package you don’t want.

If time’s on your side, and you’re still within the last 30 days of your contract, you can always say you’ll think about it before you shop around some more.

And nothing to stop you calling back a week later, going down the same route of asking for ‘disconnections’ and explaining you thought you’d give them ‘one last go’ before leaving.

8. Haggle down mid-contract price hikes. You might think if you’ve agreed a monthly price for your broadband package – that it’s job done.  

However, under Ofcom rules, your broadband provider can hike the price mid-contract – providing details are in the contract, or they don’t exceed any price rise given. If they try to put up the price by more than stated, or there’s no details of any mid-contract price rises, you can leave your contract penalty free by giving 30 days’ notice. 

This could also be a good time to try and haggle and even see if your provider will do anything to stop you leaving. While they may not be able to waive any mid-contract price rise, they may be able to discount your deal. So worth a go.  

The best broadband firms to haggle with

Some companies are known for discounting if you have a haggle. 

According to a poll by MoneySavingExpert, this is how much success you’re likely to have haggling with certain broadband, TV and home phone providers.

Provider (with total votes) No success 'Small' success 'Big' success Total success
Virgin Media (748) 15% 27% 58% 85%
Sky (1,133) 16% 34% 50% 84%
TalkTalk (208) 23% 39% 38% 77%
Plusnet (185) 35% 45% 20% 65%
BT (684) 36% 39% 25% 64%
Vodafone (150) 41% 39% 20% 59%
EE (196) 43% 34% 23% 57%
Shell Energy (72) 63% 29% 8% 37%