Broadband haggling

Top tips for slashing your internet and line rental bills

Broadband providers increase prices pretty much annually these days, despite the rising cost of living. But if your deal's ending, switching isn't the only way to cut costs. We're flooded with stories from existing customers who have slashed £100s off their bills by using a method that dates back to the dawn of civilisation... haggling.

Why haggling works...

Vector image of a bill in an envelope, several piles of coins, and several arrows pointing upwards.

If you're fed up with price hikes or your bills are going through the roof because your promo deal's ending, don't sit back. There are a host of ways you can cut costs, while not sacrificing getting what you want.

Bring haggling to bear against your bills and there are huge savings to be made, particularly on broadband and line rental packages. The broadband world's a mature market and most people already have a provider, so competition to keep existing customers is fierce.

In a nutshell, call up and ask for a better deal. Say you're paying too much and you've seen cheaper deals elsewhere. If that doesn't work, tell them you're leaving. You'll usually get put through to companies' super-powerful hidden deals departments.

Here's the key thing to understand:

Companies only make their best deals available to newbies; 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 big firms 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.

Haggling is just one cost-cutting weapon – check new deals too

While haggling can be powerful, it's just one part of your battle to get the best deal. Sometimes the 'new customer' offers you can get from alternative providers are simply unbeatable. So by all means haggle, but always check the best deals out there too – for our top picks, see How to find cheap broadband deals.

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'I'm saving £528 a year after haggling over my broadband and TV contract'

In our December 2023 poll, 78% of those who haggled with their broadband provider were successful. Virgin Media and TalkTalk customers reported an 89% success rate, Plusnet customers 80% and Sky customers 79%.

Here are examples of MoneySavers who have slashed their broadband bills by haggling:

After reading your articles on haggling to renew TV and broadband contracts, I contacted Sky to renew mine.

Sky wanted to put my contract up from £103 to £140 a month. I rang customer services but got no joy, so I asked to be put through to cancellations. I spoke to a very helpful person who managed to get my bill down from £140 to £96 [saving £44 a month, or £528 a year], which included Netflix which I didn't have before.

Thanks MSE for your advice. It pays to be cheerful and polite on the phone – after all, they're only doing their job. 

– Stuart, via email

Just had a brilliant result from Plusnet as an existing customer. I've been with them for three years and have experienced four line rental increases. When I received the email about the latest I gave them a call, having read about other available broadband deals on MSE. Having some numbers to hand really helped – I was offered a 'new customer' deal and saved £120 a year.

– Rachel, via email

My contract with Virgin Media is ending. My introductory rate was £38 a month, the renewal rate was £63.50 a month. I phoned Virgin and chose the 'I'm thinking of leaving' option. I spoke to a lovely Scottish lady and she said she would see what she could do. As a result I am now paying £43 a month for the same service, a 32% discount on the renewal rate! Thank you Martin for your encouragement. 

– Forumite Bounce56

Just managed to get a very good deal on my Virgin broadband. Was on M100 [108Mb fibre] for £34 a month... Rang up three days before end of contract, wanted better speed... so asked for M350 [362Mb fibre].

Was first offered £42 a month, then was put through to 'cancellations' who offered £40 a month. I continued with cancelling the contract and was phoned the next day and offered M350 for £30 a month and [they] threw a free Stream box in with the deal.

– Forumite Chrisbjornward

Let us know how you get on via the MSE Forum, by email using successes@moneysavingexpert.com or on X, formerly Twitter, using the handle @MoneySavingExp.

Our 13 top broadband haggling tips

Haggling may sound straightforward, but perfecting it's an art. Here are our top tips for broadband haggling...

  • Photo of a blue alarm clock next to a pink piggy bank on a yellow background.

    If you haven't reached the end of your contract yet, unfortunately it's unlikely you'll be able to negotiate a lower price or leave your deal as you're committed until your minimum term's up (unless your provider increases prices – see our mid-contract price hikes info).

    There's no harm in giving it a try earlier, but if you struggle, make a note of when you'll be near the end of your contract – while providers now have to warn you when you're out of contract it's still good to do this so you know when it's coming up. Call back then – notice periods are often 14 or 31 days, so to avoid your deal rolling on don't wait until the final day.

  • It's important to have a factual arsenal at your fingertips before you pick up the phone, so do your homework.

    Research the deals and discounts your provider and its competitors offer as the basis for negotiation. Compare broadband, phone and TV using our free Broadband Unbundled tool to find the best buys and sign up to our weekly email to get the latest offers.

  • If you're coming to the end of your contract, or are out of it, you're wielding a powerhouse weapon: loyalty. Tell them you want to move to a new provider and it'll automatically lead to a 'why are you leaving?' chat. 

    The customer service person should put you through to the 'customer retentions' department – aka the Holy Grail of haggling – where the operators have serious discount-giving power. (NB: This department might be called 'disconnections' externally, but make no mistake, customer retention is its job.)

  • Aggression or anger will just put their back up. You're asking for a discount, and they're as much within their rights not to give you one as you are to leave. Aim to be firm yet polite and non-combative.

  • Vector image of a laptop displaying a speedometer.

    Unless you have a lot of people in your home or you need the fastest speeds for bandwidth-intensive activities, such as streaming or downloading, then standard 'copper' broadband will likely be plenty fast enough.

    So if you're paying for superfast fibre and you don't think you need it, use it as a basis to haggle down the monthly cost.

    Get more info on whether you really need the fastest speeds.

  • You may find that your customer service rep only offers a small discount at first, but if you don't agree with the price, use phrases such as: 

    Vector image of a woman on the phone with text saying 'Can you beat that price?'.
    • 'I've worked out my budget, and my absolute max is £[insert amount here] a month...'
    • '[BT/Sky/Virgin Media] can do it for less...' 
    • 'I need to think about it...'
    • 'I think my other half/housemate/horse will go bonkers if I agree to pay that...'
    • 'It's still a lot of money...'
    • 'Is that the very best you can do?' 
  • Some people worry about haggling in case they're disconnected. Martin's 'get out of jail free' card for this is the following phrase: 'I'll call you back about that – I'd like to check with my wife/husband/partner/house plant first.'

  • If you've had problems with your provider in the past, such as slow speeds (compare the advertised speed of your package to what you actually get by doing a two-minute broadband speed test) or long customer service call-waiting times, then politely mention them when you haggle. The firm should want to attempt to make it up to you.

  • You should never go with the first offer. Chances are, it's not the best deal they can do. Remember, be firm (but polite).

  • They may push you to agree to an offer because it's only available for a 'limited time', but don't feel pressured into agreeing to a price or deal unless you're certain it's what you want.

    As negotiations come to a close, a classic sales technique is to stay silent. They want you to feel awkward and fill the silence by saying you'll take the offer – keep quiet and make them fill it with a better one.

  • If they won't slash the price, see if they'll include any extras, such as an upgrade to a faster speed, their latest router or a set of Wi-Fi extenders.

  • Woman smiling while talking on the phone and looking out of a window.

    While they're unconfirmed, we hear rumours that staff members at some providers have different quotas of deals they can offer – for more info, see our Insider MoneySaving tips.

    Even if that's not true across the board, it's certainly worth bearing in mind  that you may have called the wrong person at the wrong time – calling back a few days later and speaking to someone else could pay dividends.

  • If you don't get what you want, you should seriously consider leaving. Remember, new customers normally have the pick of the best broadband deals and there are plenty of other providers out there. Compare cheap broadband deals in your area with our free Broadband Unbundled tool to find the best one for you.

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