Many of us are reluctant to haggle, and this is perfectly understandable. It may seem impolite, or it may not seem like it is worth the effort.
However, haggling can often get you a better deal for relatively little effort. This is especially true if you use the right strategies, whether you’re buying a new phone or shopping for a new plan.
The only issue is that many people don’t know how to go at it, or don’t think that they can get anything worth the effort. But you may be surprised at how much money you could shave off your monthly bills by using a little bit of reverse psychology on mobile service providers.
Let’s take a look at 7 tips you could use to try to haggle down your mobile phone costs.
Don’t Be Afraid
The first rule is to stop thinking that you’re bothering service providers by haggling. They’re already selling at large margins, and you’d be surprised at how low they’ll be ready to go to retain a customer. One particular poll showed that two-thirds of mobile customers were able to negotiate a better deal just by asking. Those that failed to save money didn’t actually lose anything by trying.
Know that you can often find yourself with a better deal by asking to cancel the service, whether you have a long-term plan or a pay-as-you-go phone. They’ll often pull out all the stops and offer deals to prevent you from leaving.
Have the Right Information before You Start Negotiation
If you know what the competitors are charging for a given product, you could save money just by getting them to match the competitor’s lower rates.
One study found that phone customers who haggled with their mobile phone company by quoting competitor prices saved an average of £72 a year. This makes it worthwhile spending 15 minutes doing your research and another 15 negotiating with the provider.
Another thing to research is the discounts and deals offered by your mobile provider. Are there discounts and coupons they’re offering to new customers? See if they will apply those discounts to your account.
You don’t always have to do a ton of research and argue for a better deal; sometimes, you just have to ask. If you don’t know what deals are available, tell them that you’re not sure you’re getting the best deal and are thinking of cancelling. Then be quiet, and see if they offer you something. You can also say you think you’re paying too much, citing a friend who is getting a better deal and more minutes. Let them make an offer. Suppose they offer you a deal. Ask, “Is that the best you can give me?” Say what you were hoping for, such as more minutes or more texts. They might just give it to you.
Consider Extras in Place of Price Cuts
Another thing you should do is try to get a better deal, but not necessarily in the form of a lower monthly bill. It may not be a discount on your bill, but an “extra”.
For example, around a quarter of those who haggled over their current mobile phone plan were offered a higher extra limit. You may also be able to get more cross-network minutes, reducing the fees you’re hit with by calling someone who uses a different mobile phone provider.
Sometimes you’re able to get a free new handset. One study found that 15% of hagglers were able to secure one. However, nearly a third got increased data limits, while 1 in 6 received free extra minutes. Nearly one in seven received free extra texts, while one in ten got free extra data.
Know Your Limits
Track your data and minutes before you call up the mobile company to haggle. How many minutes do you use each month? How much data do you typically use each month? If you know this information, you know what freebies could help you save money, be it free extra minutes or a higher data limit.
Another approach would be to start negotiating a better deal well before your plan expires. This way, you’ll have plenty of time to do your research and negotiate better terms. If they don’t give you a discount or better service, you have the time to get a new SIM card or otherwise prepare before switching mobile phone providers.
Consider Switching to a Cheaper Plan Structure
If you have the information available about what competitors offer, your current mobile provider knows that you’re an educated consumer, and they will treat you with a different level of respect. Apply pressure and say that you’re considering switching companies, and see how they react. They may offer you something to keep your business, and this is how you know that you’ve got them.
You might also be able to save money by switching to a SIM only deal instead of buying a new phone with a long-term mobile plan. SIM only deals include call time, text messaging, and data. The difference is that it doesn’t include a new phone, and you don’t have to be tied down to a service provider.
SIM only deals may let you pay only for what you need, and this may be a lower monthly rate than a full calling plan. Furthermore, you could save money by going with a mobile provider who has a wide selection of SIM only deals. Lebara, for example, has many SIM only deals you can take advantage of. Their SIM only plans include unlimited UK minutes, modest amounts of free international minutes, and low data rate plans that cost less than £15 a month. Their data can even be used for tethering, so you can access the internet through any device that you want.
Other options you could consider are rolling monthly plans and longer month plans. Rolling monthly plans give you more leverage with mobile phone companies, but longer plans lock in a low rate if you can negotiate it.
Escalate the Issue
Let’s suppose you’ve talked to the cell phone provider, and they won’t budge. The next step is to say you definitely want to cancel the plan and switch to another provider. Ask to be transferred to the cancellations or retention team.
This has a number of benefits. First, you’re talking to someone new that may be willing to work with you. Second, they may have the authority to make a better deal in order not to lose you. Note that you can pull out at this point, whether you decide to stay with the carrier or say you want to think about their offer. In the latter scenario, you can call them back and take up the offer. Note that you can even call back at a later time and see if someone else will give you a deal.
Now that you know how to reduce your monthly mobile costs, go out and contact your current provider. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, push back and make counter-offers. You lose nothing for trying, and haggling can be a great way to save hundreds of pounds a year on your mobile phone service.