How and When to Haggle With Your Mobile Phone Provider

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The UK isn’t a nation of natural hagglers – we Brits are far too polite to negotiate on price. But while being polite is never a bad thing, just accepting any old deal thrown our way is.

Learning to haggle will help you save money on a wide range of products and services. Companies of all shapes and sizes are geared up to negotiate, but they won’t offer these stellar prices up easily. Want to learn how to unlock the very best offers? Read on for our tips on how and when to haggle with your phone provider. 

The best networks to haggle with

A poll conducted by Money Saving Expert revealed some interesting anecdotal statistics about haggling in the UK. According to the poll, 68% of mobile customers were successful in negotiating a better deal and the average saving was £72 a year. In addition to these already compelling stats, the majority of those who were polled stated they found haggling easy.

The poll covered companies from all sectors and industries – not just mobile phone providers. A top ten list of companies to haggle with was drawn up from the results and Three, Sky Mobile and EE made it into that list. More than 70% of respondents reported success with those particular networks.

However, that’s not say you can’t also try haggling with O2, Vodafone, BT Mobile and others. These companies may not have featured on the list, but that doesn’t mean there’s no deal to be done. Give them a call using the tips below and you might just find yourself walking away with some tasty savings.

When to haggle

If you have a contract, the best time to haggle is when you’re nearing the end of your fixed term. Between 45 and 15 days before the end date is ideal. Your phone provider will be determined to keep you (this is called retention), so you’ve got the upper hand.

If you try to cancel any earlier, you’ll likely be met with strong resistance. Unfortunately you can’t cancel mid-contract so you don’t have the bargaining power of threatening to switch. In addition, companies are not in any way obligated to cut you a deal during the life of your term.

The only exception to this is if your network has hiked prices mid-contract. Networks must provide you with 30 days advance notice of price increases and the consumer must be allowed to leave without penalty. As you can imagine, a price increase provides great ammunition for haggling and you’ll likely be offered a nice deal to convince you to stay. 

Things to know before you phone

You should do your research before you phone your provider. If you’re planning to negotiate with “X company has a better price” you need the facts to back it up. Brandon Ackroyd from the mobile phone comparison site Tiger Mobiles suggests making a note of the deals you have found elsewhere:

“It might sound like extra work, but you should make a note of the deals you have found elsewhere in a spreadsheet along with a link to them. If you haggle by live chat you can show the operative that the deal you have found is in fact cheaper. You can also get an easy overview of which is the cheapest overall. Make sure you use multiple comparison sites as they do have different deals available and special offers you can’t get from the networks directly.”

Know your usage

It’s also really helpful to know your own exact usage. That way you can get a tariff that meets your needs. Too many people are paying for more data than they need, so this is the quickest way to save some money. To find out your usage check past bills where you’ll see a detailed breakdown of calls, texts and data. Alternatively, use a tool like to analyse your bills for you. You can then use this information to search online for the right tariffs for you. Look at different networks and phone providers and make a list of the best prices. Then you can ask your network to price match.

Who to speak to

Negotiating your phone contract can really only be done over the phone. The offers in-store are fixed and if you ask for a better deal they will likely tell you to phone customer services.

Once you’re on the phone, it’s crucial that you get through to the ‘disconnections’ department. This is the best department for haggling because they’re trained to keep your business and they have far more power to offer a good deal as a result.

To get through to disconnections call customer services as normal and let them know you’re thinking of cancelling or switching your contract because you’re unhappy with your tariff. Customer services may offer you a few deals, but if you can hold fast you’ll be put through to disconnections where generally speaking (but not always) better offers are to be had.

What to say

The hardest part of negotiation is knowing what to say. Here are some key tried-and-tested phrases you can use next time you call your provider.

  • ‘I’m unhappy with my contract and I’m thinking of cancelling’
  • ‘I’ve seen X deal elsewhere and I feel I’m missing out’
  • ‘Is that the best price? I was hoping for a bigger saving/more data than that’
  • ‘I’ve worked out my budget and my absolute max is £x per month’
  • ‘X provider can do it for less’
  • ‘What’s the best you can do?’

What to do if they say no

Sometimes, for a myriad of reasons, your negotiating won’t work and the company will just say no. If this happens, you’re not under any obligation to cancel your contract – even if you threatened to do so. Tell them you’ll think about it and end the call.

All is not lost if they do say no. You can try again in a few weeks or switch to a provider with better deals. Never feel you have to settle for a tariff or price you’re unhappy with just because they weren’t open to negotiating at that time. Though it may not feel like it, you hold all the power as the consumer, and you can always walk away from a bad offer. 

Disclaimer: This is a featured post.

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