Save £100s haggling over your mobile bill

5 February 2018

What would you do with a £550 windfall? Jet off to more exotic climes, treat yourself to a brand-spanking new wardrobe or even use it in a wiser – but arguably less fun – way to pay down debts or bolster savings?

Well, you might be surprised to learn that this jackpot isn’t as hard to come by as it might initially seem.

The £550 is how much loyal customers find themselves overpaying each year for their iPhone 8 (256GB model), according to research published by charity Citizens Advice in October 2017. And it’s not just iPhone 8 users affected, the average overpayment made by users across all handsets sold by major providers’ EE, Three, and Vodafone is up to £300 a year.

The problem occurs when 12-month, 18-month or 24-month fixed price mobile deals end, and you’re typically rolled over onto a monthly deal. So you end up paying the same price for the same services and the same phone, despite having paid off the expensive handset cost as part of the original fixed-term contract.

Citizens Advice found that 36% of people with a handset-inclusive mobile phone contract stayed in the same contract after the end of their fixed deal period, with 19% staying in the same contract for over six months afterwards.

According to Ofcom, 94% of adults in the UK use a mobile phone and there are 92 million mobile subscriptions – so that’s a lot of people who could be paying too much.

You should check now if your fixed contract has expired. I was shocked into action after reading Citizens Advice’s findings and rang my mobile provider to discover my contract had ended about six months earlier.

Frustrated by not sorting this out earlier, I scoured mobile comparison sites, including Billmonitor and MobilePhoneChecker and found a cheap Sim-only deal with a tariff like my existing one.

Armed with this information, I knew it was my time to haggle. I was happy with the service, so if my provider could beat or match the competitor’s deal – which it wasn’t doing on the open market – I’d stay.

The conversation went something like this:

Me: Can I get a PAC (which you need to keep your mobile number if you want to switch elsewhere) as I’d like to leave.

Provider: Why are you leaving?

Me: I’ve found a better deal elsewhere.

Provider: Would you consider staying?

Me: I would love to stay, but only if you can match or better the other offer. As a loyal customer, is this something you might consider please?

Provider: I’ll see what we can do…

And hey presto, what do you know, it said it could apply a rather hefty loyalty discount to one of its existing tariffs making the deal cheaper than its competitor.

So not only did the loyalty discount mean I was getting a better tariff than I could on the open market, I got more data than my previous tariff, and my bill dropped by £20 a month or £240 a year – WIN!

Now I just need to decide what to do with the cash.

My top haggling tips

Below are my top tips for haggling – and these don’t just work on mobile providers, I’ve tried this with broadband and TV providers too – you may even want to give it a go in shops.

And if you do get flustered or stressed or feel the salesperson is pressuring you into something you don’t want to do, then just say you need to discuss the decision with [insert name of someone you know here] and that you’ll call back. Easy.

1. Always do your research – if you ask for the world, it won’t happen; you need realistic prices to play with.

2. Threaten to leave – this emphasises your seriousness and determination to get a better deal.

3. Be friendly and nice – if you get angry or demand a discount or better deal, you’re unlikely to get anywhere.