Smart Money: Can you beat the price hikes by BT, EE, Plusnet, Vodafone, Shell and more? - Martin Lewis

It’s not just energy bills, council tax and National Insurance: sadly, huge price hikes are hitting the broadband and mobile phone market too. There is a sliver of a silver lining though, as some can and should use this as an opportunity to radically cut your bill.

Many are paying £30-£45 a month on standard broadband packages. Yet the best deals come from short-lived promos (Photo by Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images)
Many are paying £30-£45 a month on standard broadband packages. Yet the best deals come from short-lived promos (Photo by Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images)

First, let’s go through the price rises… many BT, EE, Plusnet and Vodafone customers will see 9.3 per cent rises, TalkTalk 9.1 per cent, Shell 5.4 per cent and Virgin Media £56 per year. Your exact rise depends on your package, so it can be less than this (my team’s compiled the info at mse.me/PriceHikes2022). Thankfully though those on the special social tariffs for those on low incomes will generally not see price rises.These firms have millions of customers who are out of contract and have simply been rolled on to (often pricier) tariffs. And that means you’re holstering a serious consumer weapon – the ability to leave – which gives you a powerful negotiating position.

For those who are in-contract, which means you actively signed up to a new tariff within the last year or possibly two (do check), then the price rise was likely a term of the contract, so there’s little you can do until the contract lapses – at which point follow the info below.

Option 1: Switch and save

In most cases, the biggest savings come from moving your custom elsewhere, to a firm that is salivating to win your business. Here’s how to bag the best deal as a newbie...

Halve your broadband and line costs. Many are paying £30-£45 a month on standard packages. Yet the best deals come from short-lived promos you can't get direct from firms, involving cashback or vouchers – they’re on comparison sites.We try and compile the best ones at broadband.moneysavingexpert.com. It’s tough for me to list them here as they change so often. But as a range: for basic 11Mb broadband and speed prices can be as low as £13/mth once you’ve factored in the vouchers (eg, Amazon or a prepaid Mastercard) or you could get fast 63Mb broadband for £16-£20/mth incorporating the sign-up incentives.Mobile costs are shrinking – why pay more than £10/mth? If you're happy with your phone, then you can save big by switching your Sim – the little chip in your phone that gives it its identity. Prices for Sims with 4GB data – the average used per month – have virtually halved since 2016.Yet in my recent Twitter poll, around 30 per cent said they pay more than £30 a month. Fair enough if you’re repaying a handset, roaming or have credit issues and don’t qualify for cheaper deals. But many are overpaying for no good reason – if that’s you, especially if you’re out of contract, do a Sim check to cut your bill.

It’s easy to keep your number. Just text PAC for free to 65075 – then give that code to your new provider. There are only four networks in the UK (EE, O2, Three, Vodafone). All the rest piggyback on their signals: for example, GiffGaff uses O2, Smarty uses Three, Plusnet uses EE. Find who else uses your preferred network’s signal and it should be similar (though do check Wi-Fi calling, 5G and tethering as these can vary).Top deals are fast moving. Use a comparison site including my www.moneysavingexpert.com/cheap-mobile-finder/ to find one for you.Slashing digital TV costs can you save £100s a year? It can be harder here if you've bespoke channel packages you want to keep (so haggling, which I cover below, can often beat switching). But it’s worth checking a comparison site for new customer deals – though always work out what channels you really watch first and be willing to ditch the rest.If you've different providers for your broadband, line and TV, check if you can save by combining them – play each provider off against the other.

Option 2: Stick and save

If you're out of contract and free to move, but like the firm you’re with, then try to make them want you as much as they want switchers. To do that you need to haggle – a bit of fiscal flirting, if you like. In my last poll on this, of those who tried to haggle, there were success rates of 70 per cent plus for BT, EE, O2, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk, Three and Virgin (and a still decent 50 per cent for Vodafone).It’s always more art than science, but Andrea’s email shows how well it can work: "At the end of my BT contract, I called and used Martin's haggling tips, preparing myself with a list of comparable deals. After a lengthy call I shaved a cool £318 off my package. Just proves that by doing some prep, being patient and politely persistent, that it pays off. Thanks Martin."

Quick tips

Benchmark the cheapest price elsewhere. It's not accidental that I put switch savings first here – as you need that as a starting point to haggle with.

Call up – and be polite and charming. Aggression isn’t nice or productive. Use chutzpah, cheek and a smile. You're asking for a discount, and your provider's as much within its rights not to give one as you are to leave.

Explain that you’ve seen it cheaper elsewhere, or it doesn’t fit your budget or you think it’s too expensive, but you’d prefer to stay.

If that doesn’t work, ask to be put through to disconnections. Internally that’s called ‘customer retentions’ and it has the real power to keep you with more room to manoeuvre.

Don’t panic if it calls your bluff. If it says it'll disconnect you my easy 'get out of jail free' card is the phrase: "Hold on, I'll call you back on that. I'd like to check with my wife/husband/dog/goldfish first."And if it really won't play ball, vote with your feet, and consider leaving. Sometimes providers can give in at this stage and offer a stonking discount in last-ditch effort to keep you.

Martin Lewis is the Founder and Chair of MoneySavingExpert.com – to join the 7.5 million people who get his free Money Tips weekly email, go to www.moneysavingexpert.com/latesttip

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