How to negotiate with mobile phone providers

Haggling may seem a bit old-school. But the reality is you could save hundreds of pounds on your mobile phone by doing your research, comparing prices and asking the right questions.  
 
Find out how to negotiate the best mobile phone contract for you and get a deal that gives you what you want.

Haggling may seem a bit old-school. But the reality is you could save hundreds of pounds on your mobile phone by doing your research, comparing prices and asking the right questions.  
 
Find out how to negotiate the best mobile phone contract for you and get a deal that gives you what you want.

Holly Niblett
From the Digital team
6
minute read
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Posted 7 JULY 2021

Should you haggle to get a better mobile phone contract? 

Millions of people could be paying too much for their mobile phone, according to Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator. If you’re out of your mobile phone contract –if you’ve gone beyond the minimum term – you’re probably paying over the odds. This is when it may pay to haggle.

With a bit of research and a telephone conversation or two with your mobile phone provider, you could negotiate a mobile phone deal that saves you hundreds of pounds, depending on your current price plan.

With mobile phone negotiations, you have the advantage 

The mobile phone industry is a competitive space and this is good news for you. If you’re an existing customer, the job of providers is to persuade you to stay with them, or tempt you to jump ship from your current provider by offering you great savings.

But it tends to be cheaper for a mobile phone provider to keep you as an existing customer rather than hunt around for new ones, even if they have to give you a better rate to keep your business. That means you have the advantage when it comes to haggling.

But remember, – you only have negotiating power when you renew your contract. You’re not going to get great savings six months in, and most mobile phone providers won’t let you switch part-way through.

The first step to getting a better mobile deal: check your contract 

From 15 February 2021, Ofcom changed the rules, making it mandatory that your mobile phone provider lets you know when your contract is coming to an end, either by text, email or in a letter. 

They must also tell you:

  • The amount you’ve been paying up to this point and how much you’ll pay when your contract finishes
  • Whether there’s a notice period for leaving
  • Their best deals, including any prices exclusively available to new customers. 

If you haven’t heard anything or think you might have missed or ignored the correspondence, get in touch with them or check your account via their website or app. 

It’s important to keep track of your account status because when you signed up, you were probably getting a discounted mobile phone tariff in return for committing to a 12, 18 or 24-month contract. Just before it ends, you’ll be in pole position to negotiate something better, or switch to a new mobile phone provider

To make the most of a cheaper deal, it makes sense to start negotiations a few weeks before the end of your current contract, so you don’t have to make any payments at a higher rate.

Compare mobile phone deals 

By knowing what other providers are offering, and benchmarking the best deals, you’ll feel more confident pushing for something better with your current network provider, as well as having a starting point for negotiation.

So take a look at previous bills or check in with your provider to find out how many minutes and texts you use per month, and how much data you chew through.

If you use your phone abroad, you might want to take this into consideration too, along with the pros and cons of 4G versus 5G

Our article on how to tell how much data you use might also come in useful. 

With this knowledge under your hat, you could then haggle with your mobile provider for an arrangement that genuinely works for you. 

You’ll also be primed to compare mobile phone deals.

How to negotiate a better mobile phone deal 

  • Call your mobile phone provider, tell them that your current package is too expensive and ask them if they can improve on it. Ask them what’s the best deal they can give you?
  • Having done your research, you may also be able to drop in the name of another mobile phone provider who is making a more appealing offer. And you might want to share your maximum monthly budget if you have one.
  • If they don’t come up with an alternative that works for you, you might tell them that while you’d like to stay with them, it’s still a lot of money and you’ll have to look elsewhere. 

At this point, it’s likely you’ll be put through to the disconnections department. These are the people you need to be speaking to as they have the authority to make you a far more interesting offer. That’s because they are essentially in charge of retaining customers. You’ll need to go through the same process with them.

Don’t accept the first offer they make unless you’re genuinely happy with it. If you want time to consider their proposal, tell them you need to think about it. You can call again another time and talking to different people may get you different results. 

However, it’s worth bearing in mind that if the plan doesn’t fit, you may simply be better off switching to a new mobile phone provider

Always make sure you read the small print and ensure that you’re signing up to the best available mobile phone tariff for you. For example, you may be required to pay for a contract that lasts a year or more when a rolling monthly contract may offer you more flexibility.

It’s not just the price plan that’s negotiable 

Do you want a higher spec phone? Depending on the provider, it could be worth haggling for an upgrade as part of a new contract.

It may also possible for upfront fees to be waived and data roaming allowances to be increased in addition to a reduction on the basic price plan. This is why understanding exactly how you use your mobile phone will help you.

And remember, in a competitive market where customer loyalty is key, you’ve got everything to gain and nothing to lose by haggling for a mobile phone contract that gives you everything you want.

Frequently asked questions

Is it always better to haggle?

It’s up to you whether you try to negotiate a better mobile deal. But if you’re not particularly loyal to your current network, you may prefer to simply switch to a new mobile phone provider.

Is it worth negotiating for pay-as-you-go tariffs?

While haggling may be a good idea if you’re thinking about a monthly mobile phone contract, it’s not so relevant with pay-as-you-go tariffs where there’s no contract to haggle over. You’ll also find plenty of great pay-as-you-go deals online, along with SIM-only deals if you want to hang on to your phone and avoid signing up to another long contract.

How do price match promises work?

Most of the big mobile phone networks offer a price promise. It means that if you find a better deal for your contract elsewhere, they’ll match or even beat it.

This can be a useful bargaining tool when it comes to negotiating a lower tariff, but always check the small print of any mobile phone contract you sign up to. It may be that they don’t include certain networks or packages.

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