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Haggle with Sky, AA & more

The top 10 firms to haggle with

The best prices are usually reserved for new customers, so existing customers lose out on cracking deals. If you're willing to take the haggle challenge, you could slash bills for mobile, TV, broadband, breakdown and more.

This step-by-step guide includes the top 10 service companies to haggle with, sector-by-sector tips and how to access companies' hidden deals departments. Our recent poll showed a huge 86% of people who tried to haggle were successful with Sky and Admiral, as were 84% with the AA and 83% with Plusnet.

The top 10 service companies to haggle with

When it comes to haggling, don't think it needs to be in backstreet bazaars. Big savings are available in the UK on contracts for phones, mobiles, TV, broadband, car insurance and more.

More often than not, the best deals are reserved for new customers. Switching apathy and brand loyalty means customers often remain on contracts which are more expensive than those for newbies.

This is because most people already have contracts for mobile, digital TV, home phone and broadband services. So the firms providing these services need to tempt customers from other companies with new, cheaper deals, to expand their businesses.

Loyal customers are corporate manna from heaven. Companies love them, as they stay with them through thick 'n' thin, paying full price and never checking if their deal is competitive or 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 up and ask for a better deal. Say you're paying too much or rivals' deals are cheaper. If that doesn't work, tell them you're leaving. You'll usually get put through to companies' super-powerful hidden deals departments.

Who to haggle with

Here's our list of the top 10 service companies to haggle with, based on a poll of over 7,000 MoneySavers in November 2014. Big-name companies where hagglers revealed over 70% success rates included AA Breakdown, TalkTalk, Sky and RAC.

The top 10 UK service companies to haggle with
Provider No success Small success Big success Total success rate
1. Sky (1231 responses) 14% 31% 55% 86%
2. Admiral (156 responses) 14% 46% 40% 86%
3. AA Breakdown (556 responses) 16% 26% 58% 84%
4. TalkTalk (312 responses) 17% 34% 49% 83%
5. Plusnet (135 responses) 18% 30% 52% 82%
6. Virgin Media (484 responses) 20% 43% 38% 80%
7. AA Insurance (112 responses) 20% 33% 47% 80%
8. RAC (170 responses) 22% 32% 45% 78%
9. Direct Line (114 responses) 24% 46% 31% 76%
10. Vodafone (202 responses) 27% 29% 44% 73%
Poll last carried out in November 2014. See full results.

How big can the savings be?

All it takes is a quick phone call and you could be quids in. If you need some inspiration, here's a handful of the many successes you've told us about. Please report your service company haggling successes on the forum.

Spoke to Sky and told them I was walking away. Went through three different people to get to the cancellations team. Free broadband and 50% off line rental, so I'm in for another year. Thanks MSE!- Savingsarah, Jun 2014

Had my renewal letter from the RAC. They were asking for £175. I checked how much it'd cost for a new customer online - £139. Rang the freephone number and asked to cancel as it was cheaper online. He initially said he could change it to £149. I said I'd cancel. Then they matched the online price! - Sellingmysoul666, Jun 2014

Called Sky and said I was looking at leaving and taking my TV, broadband and phone to BT or Talk Talk. I was offered £23.55 saving per month for a year! A total saving of £282.60. Thanks MSE! - Ma3140, Apr 2014

I've just had success with O2. I probably spent three hours on the phone to them. I managed to get a free iPhone 5S and a cheaper monthly contract with a lot more data. I've saved myself £80 on the upfront cost and £5 per month. - Kiely124, Oct 2013

Benchmark the best deal

Haggling for a discount on your monthly contracts can be daunting, even for hardened MoneySavers. But honestly, as long as you do it right, there's nothing to be scared of.

But, while the "haggling for a better deal" route works for some areas, simply ditching and switching is best for others. Here we run through the hottest areas to haggle on, with full sector-by-sector tips on accessing hidden deals:

Sector-by-sector tips - everything you need to know for seriously hot haggling

Digital TV - Seriously hot haggling

Magic can happen if you haggle with existing TV providers. Read more

Broadband and home phone - Red hot haggling

Haggling a discount on your broadband and home phone services is one of the easiest ways to cut costs. Read more

Mobile phones - Hot for haggling on contracts, cold for PAYG

Haggling on monthly mobile phone contracts can slash the price you pay. Read more

Breakdown cover - Haggle your heart out or ditch and switch

Haggling for a reduction is one of the quickest and easiest ways to cut breakdown cover costs. Read more

Car and home insurance - Haggle with care

Haggling on car and home insurance is far better than just auto-renewing - your insurer will often beat its own original renewal price. Read more

Credit cards - Haggling works but new deals are usually far better

Credit card companies aren’t quite as locked down on rates as you may think. Read more

Gas and electricity - Haggle with extreme caution!

There are a number of reasons you should beware of haggling with gas and electricity firms. Read more

The powerhouse technique: Tell 'em you want to leave

If you're coming to the end of your contract, or are out of it, then you’re wielding a powerhouse weapon: customer loyalty. Companies desperately want to keep you, so if they believe they will lose you, you can often get much better deals.

The most important thing to understand is:

The ‘disconnections department’ is usually internally called ‘customer retentions'. It's their job not to let you leave - so they have huge deal-making power to keep you.

So whether you're dealing with broadband, mobile phone, TV, breakdown or any other service company, it usually has this secret super-powerful department. And the holy grail of haggling is to deal with customer retentions rather than normal customer services.

Tell them you’re going to leave

If you don’t get the deal you want with customer service, the key to getting to customer retentions is telling them you are considering leaving. Of course, we don’t want you to lie. But if you don't get a good enough deal, you should genuinely consider ditching.

Once connected, repeat your request. The more genuine you are about disconnecting, the more you should get a better offer, matching the market's best tariffs.

Quick questions

What if they just say “OK, we’ll disconnect you”?

If I don’t get a good deal, can I try again?

Martin's haggling success story

I'm an Orange contract customer, and want to stay one, as the connection at home and work is good, and the month-long switching hassle's worth avoiding. But Orange's packages aren't the market's cheapest.

Read more on how Martin haggled a better deal

Now, watch how he showed Mrs MSE how to do it...

The Mobile Haggle : Martin Lewis

Video hosted by YouTube. January 2009 (please rate it)

Haggling tips to boost your chances

Read these handy haggling tips for a few extra pointers:

  1. Do it with chutzpah!

    Good haggling is simply an exchange between two people trying to agree on a win/win deal. Haggling should be done with seduction, a gentle patter and a touch of firmness. Aim for polite, firm and non-combative.

    Aggressive haggling's usually a mistake; it annoys the person you're dealing with. As forumite anitalg (who works in an independent mobile phone shop) says:

    Best advice I can give is be really, really friendly and nice, and a little bit cheeky - I always give a better deal to people I get on with and have a chat with. - Anitalg, Nov 2013

  2. Problems mean discounts

    If you've had issues with the company (slow broadband speed, poor mobile network coverage, wrong payments taken), mention this politely.

    This makes the salesperson believe you're genuine about threatening to leave, and they may offer a deal to compensate for the past issues.

  3. Time it right

    Call centres are more amenable to haggling at slower times of the year, when fewer customers are after their wares.

    It's one of the reasons November and December are the perfect months to buy home insurance and car insurance. Insurers aren't busy, they want business, you're giving them business: expect a discount.

    The end of the month or end of a financial quarter is always a good time to haggle too. If a salesperson hasn't met their target sales volumes, they may do anything to get those extra sign-ups (including knocking a few quid off here and there).

    See the Great 'Best Time To Haggle' Hunt for more suggestions of when to try haggling.

  4. Use our stock phrases

    They may only offer you a partial discount at first, but don't agree to a price until you're happy. Use phrases like:

    • I've worked out my monthly budget, and my absolute max is £[insert price here]/month

    • Virgin Media / TalkTalk / the RAC / [insert name of rival company here] 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?

    These will give you a bit of time to consider their offer.

  5. Ask to speak to a supervisor

    Sometimes customer service assistants say they're not allowed to give discounts. If this is the case, ask whether you can have a chat with their supervisor. A supervisor should have more authority, and will be used to haggling with customers.

  6. Don't say "yes" to the first offer they give

    You should never say "yes" to the first offer they give, because the chances are, it's not the best offer the provider can do.

  7. Get deal prices when offers have finished

    If there was a promo on, but it's ended, you know they're willing to accept that price. For example, if a TV company was offering customers 50% off last week, chances are that price could be available after the offer too. It never hurts to ask.

  8. Don't be pressured into agreeing but don't fill the silence either.

    They may say it's a "24-hour deal", or a "limited-time offer". Don't listen to this if you think your provider can do better.

    If they want your business (which they will do), they'll call you back in a few days asking if you want to take up the offer. At this point, say no, it's still too expensive. They should then cut it further, hopefully much nearer to your target price.

    As negotiations come to a close, a classic salesman technique is staying silent. They want you to accept the price just to fill the awkward silence. Make them fill it with a cheaper offer.

  9. Ask if they can throw in extras

    If they can't drop the price, see if they can throw in any extras (free calls, free router, extra six months warranty). Take this breakdown cover success story:

    Just called AA to cancel my renewal as last year's £30 membership came through at £43 to renew. When, after the spiel, I said I still wanted to leave, he offered me roadside assistance for a year with one call out, for £15, which I happily accepted. - Madjen18, Feb 2013

  10. Ask for the sun and you may get the moon

    Remember, do it with humour, do it with style and there's no price or suggestion too outrageous. You can haggle virtually anywhere for anything.