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Survey Claims Broadband Consumers Save £120 by Haggling

Saturday, December 14th, 2019 (7:05 am) - Score 674

A new Savanata survey of 5,016 broadband customers by Which? has claimed that UK consumers can save an average of £120 a year by haggling with their ISP for a better deal, which could take the form of either a discount on your monthly rental or various other incentives in order to stop you switching.

Admittedly one catch here is that haggling only really works if you’re with one of the largest providers (e.g. BT, Virgin Media, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk, EE, Plusnet, Vodafone etc.), where discounts for new customers tend to change on an almost weekly basis.

Such providers are often setup to renegotiate (i.e. they have entire retention departments for managing this) and you thus have nothing to lose by trying (see our Retention Tips guide). Indeed if you’re happy with the existing service then it often makes more sense to attempt a bit of haggling before you make any decision to switch away.

Just remember that this often doesn’t work with smaller providers because most of those tend not to play the discounting game (i.e. they’re more likely to give both new and existing customers the same stable pricing structure).

Summary of Survey Results

* Nearly half of customers said they had never contacted their current ISP to ask for a better deal, while 38% had never switched provider and 24% had not switched for more than three years.

* The £120 figure is an average based on responses from those who confirmed they had been offered an incentive, discount or a better deal by their ISP within the past 2 years.

* Out of those who didn’t try haggling, some 40% said it was because they were happy with their current price, while 23% feared it would be too much hassle.

* Most of those who had switched ISP said they did so in order to get a better deal but more than one in five moved to escape connection issues.

* Overall 71% of those who switched ISP said the process was easy, although 27% experienced time without an internet connection as a result.

We should point out that Ofcom is currently in the process of developing a new switching process for ISPs, which should extend the existing process to fully include Virgin Media and other alternative network platforms.

The new system is very important since over the past 2-3 years we’ve seen an explosion of new “full fibre” (FTTP) broadband networks, which is welcome but it has added to the complexity of switching providers. At present we don’t expect to see some a final agreed process until late 2020 and Ofcom will then have to allow time for implementation.

Richard Tang, Founder and Chairman of Zen Internet, said:

“For years the industry has been putting short-term profits ahead of customer satisfaction. It shouldn’t be the case that customers have to haggle to negotiate a better price with their provider. Mid-contract and end of contract price rises have been accepted as the norm with some providers putting end of contract prices up by as much as 60 per cent.

Customers deserve better, and should be rewarded for their loyalty – not penalised.”

In the near future this whole process may become much easier, not least thanks to Ofcom’s plan to introduce a new end-of-contract notification system (sent by text, email or letter) from 15th February 2020 (here). The notifications are designed to help tackle the so-called “loyalty penalty” (i.e. where customers who stay with their ISP past the initial discounts get hit with a big price hike) by keeping customers informed about the best deals and encouraging migrations.

The regulator has also been busy encouraging providers to put more effort into protecting vulnerable consumers. As part of that they’ve introduced a new Fairness for Customers commitment and proposed a Fairness Framework, which has already seen several big ISPs pledge to give customers a “fair deal” and adopt a “fair approach to pricing” (here); some of the related commitments are due to be introduce during early to mid 2020.

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