Millions of Sky TV customers will be hit by a price hike in June, with the cost for some going up by up to £72 a year. If you want to beat the rise, see below for how.
The price hike – first revealed by MoneySavingExpert.com last week – will affect those on a wide range of basic and premium packages, including the Original, Variety and Family bundles and Sky Movies and Sky Sports.
Sky is beginning to contact customers to inform them of the changes, which will come into effect from 1 June 2016. See our Digital TV Deals guide for our pick of the top alternative TV deals.
The June hike will be the latest in a series of price increases by Sky, with Sky TV customers hit by a hike of up to £54 a year last June, and millions of Sky home-phone and broadband customers handed inflation-busting rises last December.
Update Tuesday 29 March: Since publishing this story we've been inundated with stories from MoneySavers who have managed to haggle their way to a better deal – some of which are included below.
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What prices are going up?
The price hike affects both existing subscribers and, for the most part, new customers too – though new customers getting the 'Original' bundle will continue to pay £20/mth.
If you're an existing Sky subscriber, the extra you'll pay depends on the package you have (see table below). The biggest rise for a single bundle (the Original bundle) is up to £30 a year, but those with multiple bundles or add-ons may see bigger hikes.
The biggest additional amount anyone will be asked to pay is £6/mth or £72 a year, though that's understood to affect only a small number of customers. Sky says price increases for individual customers are capped at 8%, and the average hike will be "less than £3/mth".
Customers currently paying extra for HD movies may see their bills decrease, as this is now part of the standard Movies package.
|Product||Increase per month||New price per month|
|TV entertainment bundles|
|Original||+£1/£2.50 (depending on current price paid)
||£22.50 (new customers will still pay £20)|
|Sky Q Silver||+£2||£56|
|Top tier (Sky Sports & Sky Movies)||+£1.50||£36|
|Sports HD Pack||+£0.75||£6|
How can I beat the hike?
If you're not happy with the price hike, there are ways to try to beat it – price increases can give you valuable haggling ammunition to try to negotiate a better deal.
- If you're outside your minimum contract term, you're free to leave penalty-free – to ditch your contract, you just need to speak to a live chat advisor or call 03332 022 135 and give 31 days' notice that you are looking to cancel your subscription.
- If you're still within your minimum contract term, Sky says you'll have to pay to leave – how much depends on your package and how long's left on your contract, but exit fees for bundles range from £3.24 to £25.99 per month left.
Ofcom rules say you can leave mobile, broadband and landline contracts penalty-free if the monthly price rises beyond what you agreed when signing up. They don't appear to cover TV contracts, but Ofcom wouldn't give us a clear answer on this, saying only "it is a question of fact in each particular case whether a pay TV service falls within this".
Ofcom says if you're unhappy with the price hike you should complain to Sky, then escalate it to Ombudsman Services if necessary – see our How to complain guide for help. Even if you don't have the right to leave penalty-free, it's still worth haggling as you've a reason to ask for a better deal and they should be keen to keep you.
- Do a channel audit. Work out what you really watch on Sky and ditch the rest. There's no point in paying for channels you don't watch.
- Timing is crucial. Haggling works best when you're near or beyond the end of your contract. As we've said, there's no harm in giving it a try when you're not; if you struggle then diarise when you're nearing the end (you can give Sky notice of leaving 31 days before the end of your contract) and call back then.
- Benchmark the best deal. It's important to have the factual arsenal. Research the deals, discounts and codes that Sky and its competitors are offering to act as a basis for negotiation. Our Digital TV Deals guide has more best buys, and sign up to our weekly email to get the latest offers.
- Get through to the retention department. If you're coming to the end of your contract, or are out of it, you're wielding a powerhouse weapon: customer loyalty. Tell them you're going to leave. The customer service person should put you through to the 'customer retentions' department – aka the holy grail of haggling.
- Use charm, chutzpah, cheek and a smile. Aggression or anger will just put their back up. You're asking for a discount, and they're just as much within their rights not to give it as you are to leave. Aim for polite, firm and non-combative.
- Use the phrases that pay. You may find that your Sky customer service rep will only offer a small discount at first, but if you don't agree with the price, use phrases like:
- I've worked out my monthly budget, and my absolute max is £[insert price here]/month
- [TalkTalk/Virgin/BT] can do it for less...
- I need to think about it...
- I think my husband/wife 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 and say they'll disconnect you. Some people worry and get nervous to try this in case they're disconnected. Martin's 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/dog/Aunt Fanny first."
- Problems mean discounts. If you've had issues with Sky in the past – slow broadband, long customer call waiting times – then politely tell them when you haggle. They should want to try to 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.
- Don't fill the silence. 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 they won't slash the price, see if they can include any extras, like free calls or extra channels.
- 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.
Finally, if all else fails, vote with your feet – if you don't get what you want then you should seriously consider leaving. Use our Digital TV Deals guide to find the best one for you.
Sarah said: "I rang yesterday, told them it’s extortionate and BT can give us the same for £35/mth. Spent an hour haggling but well worth it… from £67/mth to £37/mth just from one phone call."
Andy emailed: "Following your suggestion, we rang Sky and indicated that we were considering cancelling our subscription. ‘Would you like a 25% discount?’ asked Sky, almost as the first proposal. ‘Yes, please,’ we replied. Job done!"
Stephanie emailed: "After listening to Martin this morning on Good Morning Britain, I contacted Sky and after a little bit of negotiating have reduced my Sky package per month by £24.68 – thanks Martin."
Gordon commented: "I spoke to someone this morning and got 35% off my bill for nine months. Had to take a year's contract out, but that's OK as I have no plans to leave Sky. MoneySavingExpert does it again!"
Phil said: "Haggling works – and saying no then trying again with a different [Sky] operator does too. Last week I was offered a 10% discount on the Tuesday which I refused. On Friday I got 25% – I'm paying less now than I was."
What does Sky say?
A Sky spokesperson says: "We are always investing to keep Sky the best value entertainment choice for customers. This year we'll bring customers even more unmissable original British drama, as well as the best US shows from HBO and Showtime. We're launching a great Sky Kids app, as well as a new Sky Sports channel giving all TV customers a selection of live sporting action.
"On average, bills will rise by less than £3 per month."