Almost half of broadband customers are put off haggling with their provider because it is too much hassle or they don’t think they will save money, but those who do negotiate or switch save an average of £120 a year, according to new Which? research.
The consumer champion asked more than 5,000 broadband customers how much they paid for their broadband, whether they had haggled for a new deal or switched in the past 12 months and if so, how much they saved.
Nearly half (45%) of customers said they had never contacted their current provider to ask for a better deal, two in five (38%) had never switched provider and another quarter (24%) had not switched for more than three years.
But out of the 51 per cent who had negotiated, the majority had been successful. In fact, more than three quarters (78%) were offered an incentive, discount or a better deal.
When Which? asked customers who had not recently negotiated with their provider if they were paying more, less or the same as when they first signed up to their deal, most said they paid the same (51%).
But results varied across the providers included in the survey, with two in five (38%) of Vodafone customers saying they were paying less than when they first signed up, while three in 10 (30%) Virgin Media customers told Which? they are now paying more.
Two in five customers (40%) who had not attempted to haggle with their provider said it was because they were happy with the current price they were paying.
Almost a quarter (23%) of customers who had not haggled in the last two years said it was because they thought it would be too much hassle. Yet, of those who had given it a try, the majority (52%) said they found the process easy with only a quarter of people (27%) saying it was difficult.
Seven in ten (71%) of those who switched provider said it the process was easy, even though 27% experienced time without an internet connection as a result.
In the majority of cases, switching is straightforward. Most customers will only need to contact one provider – the company they are moving to – and it will take care of the switch. This is known as ‘gaining provider-led’ switching and is in place for all the providers using the Openreach network including BT, EE, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone and Zen Internet.
However, for those switching to or from a separate network, such as the cable one used by Virgin Media, they’ll have to go through the ‘cease and re-provide’ process. This means asking the previous provider to switch the old connection off and the customer having to coordinate the move to the new provider themselves.
Next year, Ofcom will consult on changes to the switching process with the aim of making the process of changing between providers much easier for customers.
For those willing to negotiate a better deal Which? found that there were savings to be made – but new customers are still usually able to get the best deals.
Natalie Hitchins, Which? Head of Home Products and Services, said:
“Many of us obediently pay our bills throughout the year without ever giving it a second thought but just one phone call or online chat could save you £120 this Christmas.
“There are bigger savings to be had for those willing to switch to a new provider, but even if you are happy where you are don’t be afraid to ask for a discount – it could make all the difference.”
Notes to editors:
Customers looking for cheaper broadband can compare deals with Which? Switch Broadband, a transparent and impartial way to compare tariffs and find the best broadband supplier.
Which? surveyed 5,016 members of the public (aged 18+) in October 2019. Fieldwork was carried out online by Savanata.
The European Electronics Communication Code must be implemented by December 2020, this requires the gaining provider to lead the switching process. Ofcom is considering its approach to implementation.