Haggling is terribly un-British but if you loosen your reserved, stiff upper lip, serious breakdown cover bargains are possible.
Don't just automatically cancel your existing policy and switch - we're swamped with haggling success stories and if you're one of many AA/RAC customers close to renewal, a deal to beat it by up to 50% from rival Green Flag is the perfect excuse to kickstart the habit. Here's how it's done...
In this guide...
Our most recent poll, in December last year, showed 87% of AA customers who voted said they'd successfully haggled, 85% RAC, 79% Green Flag and 69% of other breakdown companies, showing what's possible.
So don't automatically cancel your AA, RAC or Green Flag membership without giving it a go first. See our full list of the top service companies to haggle with.
Here are examples of MoneySavers who've slashed their AA and RAC bills by haggling:
Full AA breakdown renewal came through at £45/mth. Called up and said I would be leaving unless he could get to my budget. Knocked it down to £30/mth. Saved £180 a year. - Tracy by email
Read your newsletter. Thought give it a go and I managed to get AA down from £311 to £190! Couple of mins is all it took. - David by email
Managed to get my £215 renewal reduced to £149. Told her my circumstances, can't afford the increase & reduced it without changing the cover or the benefits at all! - Corriene by email
Just haggled my AA breakdown cover renewal down by £96! #happy- @RachySearle
AA renewal came in at almost £200, final cost around £120, same price as new customers. Always haggle! - @Violet_Aurella
Don't think of haggling as exclusively the preserve of backstreet bazaars - it's alive and kicking in the UK and big savings are available on contracts for breakdown cover.
Here's the key thing to understand:
Companies make their best deals only available for newbies, and they LOVE loyal customers, because they stay with the firm through thick 'n' thin, always paying full price and never checking if their deal can be beaten.
This lets them rake in regular, guaranteed, easy profit. So ask yourself a question: do you want to be a customer whose business is fought for, or one who's taken for granted? If you don't want to be taken for granted, take the haggle challenge.
In a nutshell, call your breakdown provider and ask for a better deal. Say you're paying too much or rivals' deals are cheaper. If that doesn't work, tell it you're leaving. You'll usually get put through to companies' super-powerful hidden deals departments.
Haggling's great but it's not the only trick in the book – always check new deals too
Breakdown cover is one of the most powerful places for haggling, however, it is just one of your price cut weapons.
If you're after a new deal, you might get a cheaper price by switching providers, so always check and compare before signing on the dotted line.
Check out out Cheap Breakdown Cover guide for the top deals.
The best prices are usually reserved for new customers, so existing ones lose out on cracking deals. If you're willing to take the haggle challenge then you could beat a price hike. Here are our top 12 tips to haggle with the AA, RAC, Green Flag and more. For more, see our guide on Haggling with Service Providers guide.
Haggling works best when you're near or beyond the end of your contract. However, there's no harm in giving it a try when you're not. If you struggle to remember, diarise when you're nearing the end.
Benchmark the best deal
Get through to the retention department
If you're coming to the end of your contract, or are out of it, then you're wielding a powerhouse weapon: customer loyalty. Tell it you're going to leave.
None of the breakdown insurance companies say they have a direct line to the 'customer retentions' department – aka the Holy Grail of haggling.
But here are the best ways to get through to RAC and AA's retentions' departments: the number for the RAC is 0844 891 3111 (option 1, then 2, then 2), and the AA's is 0800 048 0475 (select option 2, then 2).
Aggression or anger will just put its back up. You're asking for a discount, and it's just as much within its right not to give it to you, as you are to leave. Aim for polite, firm and non-combative.
Use the phrases that pay
You may find your AA/RAC (or any other breakdown provider) customer service rep will only offer a small discount at first. If you don't agree with this, use phrases such as:
- I've worked out my budget, and my absolute max is £[insert price here]/month
- [AA/RAC/Green Flag, etc] can do it for less...
- I need to think about it...
- I think my husband/wife/pug will go bonkers if I pay that...
- It's still a lot of money...
- What's the very best you can do?
Don't panic if they call your bluff
Some people worry and are nervous to try this in case they're discovered. The easy 'get out of jail free' card on this is the phrase: "Hold on, I'll call you back on that. I'd like to check with my wife/husband/cat/Aunt Fanny first."
Problems mean discounts
If you've had issues with your roadside assistance provider in the past - slow recovery, long customer call waiting times - then politely tell them when you haggle. They should want to try and make it up to you.
Don't say yes to the first offer they give
You should never go with the first offer. Chances are, it's not the best deal they can do. Remember, be firm.
They may push you to agree because it's a 'limited-time offer', don't feel pressured into agreeing to the new price or deal unless you're certain. As negotiations come to a close, a classic salesman technique is to stay silent. They want you to feel awkward and fill the silence. Make them fill it with a cheaper offer.
Ask if they can throw in extras
If it won't slash the price, see if it can include any extras, such as upgrade the cover.
If you fail - try, try and try again
While unconfirmed, we hear rumours that different staff members have quotas of how many deals they can do. Even if not true, it feels like that to many. So you may have called the wrong person at the wrong time. Calling back a few days later and speaking to someone else may pay dividends.
Vote with your feet
If you don't get what you want, you should seriously consider leaving. Use our Breakdown Cover guide to find the best policy for you.
It's important to have the factual arsenal before you start haggling. Research the deals, discounts and cashback that your breakdown provider and its competitors are offering to act as a basis for negotiation.
Also watch Martin's How to Haggle video for more inspiration.