Almost half of broadband customers have been put off the idea of haggling with their provider because it is ‘too much hassle’, despite average savings of £120 a year.

Nearly half of households have never contacted their provider to ask for a better deal, while a quarter have been with the same supplier for more than three years.

Consumer group Which? asked more than 5,000 broadband customers how much they paid for their broadband, whether they had haggled for a new deal or switched in the past 12 months and if so, how much they saved.

And it found that out of the 51% who had negotiated, the majority had been successful.

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In fact, more than three quarters were offered an incentive, discount or a better deal. 

When Which? asked customers who had never asked for a better deal if they were paying more, less or the same as when they first signed up to their deal, most said they paid the same.

But results varied across the providers included in the survey, with two in five of Vodafone customers saying they were paying less than when they first signed up, while three in 10 Virgin Media customers said they are now paying more.

Almost a quarter of customers who had not haggled, said it was because they thought it would be too much hassle.

Yet, 52% of those who tried it said it was ‘easy’.

How to haggle

  • Do your research – shop around and find out your exact budget and what you’re looking for (ie package deals, speeds and limits).

  • Build a rapport with the salesperson – be polite and ask if they can help you. Let them speak – and try not to rush into the haggling too soon.

  • Stand your ground – It’s no secret that salespeople earn commission for your custom, so make the conversation work for both of you by standing your ground.

  • Let’s talk numbers – Never let slip your maximum budget. Giving that information away can hurt a haggle before it has even begun. You don’t want to spend your maximum budget. That’s the whole point of bartering.

  • Failing to get your message across? – Why not ask for some extras to make it worth your while instead?

  • Switch – if you’ve found a better deal that they’re refusing to match – take your custom elsewhere.

How easy it is to switch?

In the majority of cases, switching your broadband supplier is straightforward. Most customers will only need to contact one provider – the company they are moving to – and it will take care of the switch.

This is known as ‘gaining provider-led’ switching and is in place for all the providers using the Openreach network including BT, EE, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone and Zen Internet.

However, for those switching to or from a separate network, such as the cable one used by Virgin Media, they’ll have to go through the ‘cease and re-provide’ process.

This means asking the previous provider to switch the old connection off and the customer having to coordinate the move to the new provider themselves.

Next year, Ofcom will consult on changes to the switching process with the aim of making the process of changing between providers much easier for customers. 

For those willing to negotiate a better deal, there were savings to be made – but new customers are still usually able to get the best deals.

Natalie Hitchins, at Which? said: “Many of us obediently pay our bills throughout the year without ever giving it a second thought but just one phone call or online chat could save you £120 this Christmas.

“There are bigger savings to be had for those willing to switch to a new provider, but even if you are happy where you are don’t be afraid to ask for a discount – it could make all the difference.”