Simple way you could cut household bills by £248 – and the ‘red flag’ to watch out for

Alice Beer reveals how you can save money on household bills

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Millions of people across the country are making tough decisions as they try and cut back and one option that more and more people are turning to is haggling. Haggling is an act of negotiating or arguing over the terms of purchase, agreement, or contract. The bills which are usually the best to target with a haggle are broadband and TV packages, broadband, and mobile phone contracts. The latest research from consumer rights company Which? found that customers who haggle saved an average of £248 on these three bills.

People may find the idea of haggling a harrowing or awkward experience however Tara Flynn, the co-founder of comparison site, Choosewisely.co.uk said that people should not feel embarrassed in taking this route.

She said: “Some large corporations are making enormous profits, so you shouldn’t feel embarrassed about negotiating what you pay or demanding a better service.

“There should be no shame in wanting to make sure you’re getting the best price for things. Service providers and retailers are getting used to consumers demanding better so you’re not alone, and they shouldn’t be surprised.”

Editor-in-Chief of the comparison website, Quotegoat.com, Michael Foote, said that even though it may be daunting at first but the more that people do it the better they will get.

He said: “The worst that can happen is you won’t get what you want, and that’s when you can vote with your feet and switch retailer or provider.”.

Before people set on trying to negotiate their bills, Ms Flynn explains that people should “take the emotion out of it” and think of haggling as a business transaction.

Ms Fylnn also said that people need to prepare themselves, particularly by looking at price comparison sites to find other deals stating “comparison sites are your best friend”.

By researching people will be able to give themselves more power in their haggling as they can be used to support their case.

Being clear about certain priorities and needs will also make it easier. If people highlight that price is the most important or contract length, then companies can offer something that is tailored to these priorities.

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Mr Foote’s first tip is to always haggle over the phone as speaking to a human is usually “the fastest, most effective way to haggle” rather than doing it online.

Speaking to the right person will always aid a person in their haggling. Go to the cancellation team first, after this people are usually passed to the retention team who have the power to offer discounts.

He said: “Dial your utility, bank or insurance providers and explain that you’ve seen a better deal online. If they can’t match it exactly, then you can start a discussion. Don’t be afraid to ask the best price they can offer or negotiate the length of the contract.”

Mr Foote explained that if a person asks for a better price and one is given quickly then it could suggest that there is even “more wiggle room”.

He said: “People should ask if that’s the best price you can do. If the answer is yes and you explain you’ve found it cheaper elsewhere, remain silent.

“Sometimes it’s easy to talk yourself out of a negotiation. If the other person is quiet, it could mean they’re considering their options. Don’t be afraid of the silence.”

If a person is left on hold on the phone for longer than 15 minutes, Mr Foote recommends that they then complain and ask for compensation from the company.

He added: “You can also do this if you have had to repeatedly email to chase up an issue. Many companies will give you something, either a credit on your account, a partial refund, a gift voucher or even cash as compensation for wasting your time.”

Ms Flynne’s top tip is to not be afraid to haggle before a contract ends as particularly mobile phone providers do reduce their prices mid-contract and if a company offers a reduction on the bill in an autorenewal offer don’t automatically accept.

She said: “Many providers allow you to negotiate better terms of SIM-only deals as early as three months before the initial contract ends, with the newer, better price kicking in as soon as you get off the phone.

“It’s also easy to think you’re saving money by sticking with your provider when they offer you a small reduction but if they do this, it’s usually because they know their prices aren’t competitive, so it should be a red flag.”

However, people do need to be wary of fixed-term contracts as people may need to pay a cancellation fee to get out of them.

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With retail, Mr Foote and Ms Flyne suggest asking for a partial refund if items have not turned up on time or if they have gone on sale soon after purchasing.

Although they have no legal obligation to do this, large retailers in these circumstances “usually always oblige”.

With something like the gym, Mr Foote said that “there is always room to haggle”.

He explained: “A gym membership is very rarely a set price, ask for a couple of free months or a free personal training session, or negotiate the number of guests passes they’re willing to give you.”

Mr Foote reiterates that people shouldn’t be rude or pushy when trying to haggle as it is another human being on the other side of the phone.

He said: “If the person you’re speaking to becomes agitated, you know it’s time to stop.

“Being polite and kind and even injecting a bit of humour into the situation is often a good way to get the best deals.”

If haggling is still something that causes anxiety, Which? has created scripts that people can use and follow to help them in their haggle.

The scripts show the structure which is usually taken in these calls so people are able to follow along and negotiate a better deal on a their car, broadband, car insurance and home insurance.

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