When people talk about saving money, one thing they often forget is that everything in life is negotiable. Even your utility bills. So while it is great to focus on spending less on groceries or petrol, today we will talk about a strategy that is pretty painless, and that can help you save hundreds of pounds for just a few minutes spent on the phone.
When you decide to go with a utility provider, for broadband, electricity or gas for example, you generally subscribe to the one that has the best offer at the time, and then stay with them without challenging your contract. In most cases you are on a 12 month contract, so at the end of it, you are free to leave your current provider for the one with the sweetest offer. Of course, your provider will keep silent about it and keep billing you as usual in hopes you stay with them indefinitely.
And you can – but not without asking for a discount to reward your loyalty.
Negotiating with the same provider
I have been very happy with my broadband provider which is known for having stellar customer service. And for that I am prepared to pay a little more, but not twice as much as other providers. So when my 50% off broadband for the first 12 months was about to end, I gave them a call and simply asked if they could keep me on the new customer discount for another year. And 10 minutes later they approved my discount, saving me about £120 over the next 12 months. That is a fantastic hourly rate!
When I called them, I had made a quick search about current offers. I knew X was offering £12 broadband, Y had a £15 offer and Z had a 6 months £8 promotion. I also checked my own provider and their new customer offer. Providers know it is much harder to gain a new customer than to keep an existing one, so more often than not they will oblige. Just be polite, explain your case, and if you are not satisfied, ask to be transferred to retentions. That is the service that will do almost anything to keep you from leaving.
Once your discount has been approved make a note in your calendar to do the same next year, about a month before your offer expires.
Moving to a new provider
Often the main reason we don’t switch utilities providers is because it takes time and we procrastinate on it for month, or never have the energy to do it at night. But now, thanks to the internet, there are lots of sites that allow you to compare energy and phone providers in just a few clicks. They will have you enter your postcode to see which offers are available, and your current tariff. Then they will tell you that you could save, for example, £130 a year by switching your energy provider. In a couple more clicks, the request has been sent to said provider, who will take care of everything; from cancelling your contract with your previous provider to amending your Direct Debit details. The process is so quick and easy.
Another strategy if you are living with a partner and your provider is offering you a discount that is less than the new customer discount, is to cancel your contract and reopen it under your partner’s name. That is a situation when you would have to do it all yourself though, but a couple of hours of your time to save over £100 is worth it, isn’t it?