Which? and Martin Lewis say customers who haggle or switch can save money on TV and broadband deals as both Virgin and BT raise prices
Customers who are prepared to haggle over the cost of their broadband and television packages can save more than £100 a year, according to a new report.
Consumer organisation Which? says households prepared to drive a hard bargain at the end of their contract stand to save money - with those ready to switch if they don't get the discount they're looking for likely to save almost £200.
With the cost of living soaring, people's outgoings are being firmly and regularly scrutinised but gas and electric bills are not the only household expenditure to soon rise - with both BT and Virgin preparing to hike their bills for millions of customers.
Virgin Media has announced that it will be increasing its prices by around £56 per year from March 1 - while BT is increasing monthly bills by nearly 10% from March 31.
But those feeling bold enough to contact their current provider and ask for a better deal when their current contract ends stand a good chance of being better off says Which?
Despite less than half of the 5,000 people it spoke to - 46% - admitting to being brave enough to have embarked on negotiations for their last TV or internet deal those who did make the call reported saving an average of £85 on broadband and television costs and £35 on a mobile phone deal.
While one in five people said they bit the bullet and switched to a different provider altogether when their last deal ended because they felt they were paying too much - with those who switched on average saving £65.
However those who left one of the country's biggest television and internet firms found the savings almost doubled with Which? researchers discovering that those who walked away from Virgin Media in favour of a new deal with another company saved over £200 on yearly bills, those abandoning Sky £180 and those leaving either Talk Talk or BT somewhere between £80 and £90.
Lisa Barber, Which? Home Products and Services Editor, said: “With the cost of living soaring, it’s even more important to cut costs where you can. If you are happy with your current TV, broadband and mobile providers don’t be afraid to haggle when your contract ends as it is easier than you might think and you could save a lot of money.
“If you are not happy with your provider or are looking to avoid a costly price hike, or your service is just not good enough, shop around and consider switching.”
How to haggle...
While haggling may seem like an unwanted hassle for many who do not feel confident enought to pick up the phone and barter with a customer services operative, Which? says companies will expect it. And with research suggesting that savings of up to £130 are there to be made - those on the other end of the phone are fully prepared for people who ring up asking for a better deal.
Some providers, it says, will even let customers upgrade their service with new equipment or additional packages while still offering a discount of up to 45%.
According to consumer champion Martin Lewis and website Money Saving Expert which he founded - Virgin comes top of its list of companies it believes you can successfully haggle with with 83% of customers reporting some form of success.
His advice includes being prepared to cancel if you're not offered a deal you want, finding out what new customers are paying before asking for a better price as it can be useful when negotiating and above all remain friendly.
The ITV presenter also suggests customers do an audit of their own bill and package before contacting customers services to work out what channels or add-ons could be ditched because they remain unwatched each month.
Anyone preparing to haggle, say the experts, has also got to think carefully about also being prepared to walk away if a satisfactory resolution and appropriate discount can't be reached. It will be down to the company, if you're out of contract, to prove to you how keen they are to keep your custom - something Money Saving Expert describes as 'fiscal flirting'.
Virgin customers, says Uswitch, are facing the second annual price hike from the cable provider in two years after it froze 2020 prices to help customers through the year rocked by the pandemic.
Unlike other providers Virgin Media doesn't include yearly price rises in contact terms which means if you're affected by the upcoming change you'll be allowed to switch or cancel your contract without any cost.
Virgin customers who are notified of a rise will have until Tuesday, February 15 to switch providers if they wish to. For those who miss the cancellation date it is worth attempting to negotiate a better deal for your existing contract, says Uswitch, particularly if you've not been able to find any other favourable deals elsewhere.
If BT’s annual price rise affects you, you likely won’t be able to cancel your contract or switch without paying an early termination fee because the annual price hike is included in its terms and conditions which means, says Uswitch, that people likely agreed to it when initially signing up.
However, if you’ve been on your current BT contract for more than two years, you might be able to switch or re-contract for free, the comparison site advises, if your initial contract period has run out.
According to Uswitch research monthly prices can increase significantly once customers are out of contract, depending on the package, and so haggling for a better deal or even switching must be explored when you get notification that your current deal is coming to an end.
But anyone who is out of contract - and facing a significant bill increase - or who is simply struggling with monthly outgoings and would like to bring the cost of their TV and internet package down, must be ready to vote with their feet and switch in order to save if a replacement offer is not available.
For more advice about switching providers and for price comparison help visit Uswitch here.