Sally | Edited by Johanna
Updated 22 May 2017
When it comes to phone lines and broadband, BT is the nation's most popular provider. Although it isn't the cheapest, many of you like to stick with a name you know. But if you're a BT customer, don't stick with the high prices – haggle your way to a cheaper deal.
The telecoms giant may have hiked its prices in April, but that doesn't mean you have to put up with it if you're not happy. You'll need a little research and a lot of charm, but when prices rocket, you've got more options than cancelling.
In this guide...
'I haggled £220/yr off my BT bill'
In our most recent haggling poll, in November 2016, 78% of BT customers who tried to haggle told us they were successful in negotiating a better deal, showing what's possible. To see who else this works well on, see the top service companies to haggle with.
Here are examples of MoneySavers who've slashed their BT bills by haggling.
Sent BT an email to ask for my Mac code, received a call today cutting £220 per year off my phone and broadband package with an upgrade to unlimited broadband. Shows what can be done with an email. - forumite TonyNannini
Followed up your alert of being charged for my previously free BT sport - one quick call and I was advised I could have it free for another year. Just need to watch out in a year's time. Thanks! - Derek, by email
I phoned BT and haggled over £5 sports charge. Told them I don't watch it, and that I was a pensioner so it's hard to find £5/mth more and that I might see what Sky will charge me. BT have now reduced my broadband charge, and I still have sports for less than I was paying. Thank you so much. - Pam, by email
I avoided the BT Sport price rise by haggling. I recently joined BT, complained about the increase and re-contracted for 12 months after getting free BT Eurosports. - Gavin, via Twitter
Don't let the big player play you - fight back or switch
Many of you tell us you want to stick with BT. Our line is usually loyalty doesn't pay - which is generally true when it comes to saving money. But, if you are happy with your service and you're out of contract, loyalty isn't bad IF you can get the same package for a better price, without sacrificing the services you want and need.
Why haggling works
Now to your biggest weapons - talking with your feet by switching to another provider, or the art of negotiation, otherwise known as haggling.
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 up and ask for a better deal. Say you're paying too much or rivals' deals are cheaper. If BT doesn't budge after that, or you're not happy with the offer, tell it you're leaving. More often than not you'll be transferred to its cancellations AKA retentions department. Here, staff have the power to offer hidden, unpublicised deals.
Check new deals too - remember, switching may be best
Haggling can be mega powerful but think of it as just one part of your battle to get the best deal. Sometimes 'new customer' offers from alternative providers are simply unbeatable. So by all means haggle, but always check the price you secure against the top deals from switching – see Cheap Broadband for our top picks.
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12 top haggling tips
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, you could beat a price hike. Here are our top tips to haggle with BT - for more, see our Haggling with Service Providers guide.
Timing is crucial
Haggling works best when you're near or beyond the end of your contract. There's no harm in giving it a try when you're not – if you struggle, diarise when you're nearing the end and call back then (you can give BT notice of leaving one month before the end of your contract).
Furthermore, if a provider hikes broadband or line rental prices (sadly the rule doesn't apply to TV) you have 30 days from receiving your notification letter to leave your contract penalty-free, even if you're still in the minimum term.
BT announced in January upcoming price increases to broadband and calls – sadly it's probably been too long since being notified for most to leave penalty-free any longer. You can still use it as ammunition if trying to negotiate a better deal though.
Benchmark the best deal
Research the deals and discounts that BT and its competitors are offering to act as a basis for negotiation. If there's a stonking deal for new customers, the chances of matching that haggling are slim, but it shows what room there is. Our Cheap Broadband 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, then you're wielding a powerhouse weapon: customer loyalty. Tell BT you're going to leave. The customer service person should put you through to the 'customer retentions' department – aka the Holy Grail of haggling. To discuss your options with BT if you're thinking of leaving, call 0800 800 150.
Use charm, chutzpah, cheek and a smile
Aggression or anger will just put the customer service rep's back up. You're asking for a discount, and they're just as much within their right 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 BT 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 budget, and my absolute max is £[insert price here]/month
- [TalkTalk/Sky/Virgin] can do it for less...
- I need to think about it...
- I think my husband/wife/goldfish 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 BT in the past - slow broadband, long customer call waiting times - then politely tell the salesperson 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
The salesperson 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, such as free calls or a boosted TV package that includes BT Sport.
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 then you should seriously consider leaving. Use our Cheap Broadband guide to find the best one for you.
Also watch Martin's How to Haggle video for more inspiration.