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Is it unBritish to haggle – or the only way to get a fair price?

When I asked Which? readers for their haggling stories, many told me of savings they’d made using just a phone call and a dash of charm. But not everyone liked the idea – one even claimed haggling was ‘unBritish’.

I can’t believe it. While I respect those who believe the price you agree at the start should be the price you pay – it doesn’t always follow.

Anyone with a service contract that lasts more than a couple of years knows that enticing deals used to lure us in at the start soon pass, and give way to bill creep.

Extra charges appear, the monthly cost goes up, and the companies bank on our apathy preventing us questioning the increases or taking our business elsewhere.

Our haggling survey reveals big savings you can make

best deal

Our latest research has found plenty of reasons why it’s worth haggling, most of which start with £ symbols. We found the average saving for broadband was £163 a year, mobile phone savings were £90 a year.

Tempted to pick up the phone?

Recently, I decided to try to save on my broadband/ TV package – I was in the middle of writing an article on haggling and felt I should at least give it a go.

It was easy. That’s what struck me. On the phone, I voiced a few doubts about the value of my service, lamented the lack of deals for existing customers, and pointed out some appealing prices offered by rivals.

That was it. I was £140 better off – and unbearably smug. All it cost me was a ten-minute phone call. And a few friends, after I bored them repeatedly with the lofty tales of my great negotiating skills.

Most people still don’t haggle

Fewer than half of the people we surveyed had tried to haggle. But more than 80% of those who did haggle, saved money.

If stoically paying over the odds for a service is a national trait, I’d suggest that like colonialism, it’s one we leave in the past.

Are you happy to haggle? What tips do you have?


Back onto haggling, when I was with Sky I always used to ring up on a six monthly basis to mainly complain about my broadband speed and ask what they would do to make things better. They’d usually give me free line rental for 3-6months, or a free TV box etc. Definitely worth the effort IMO.


Actually I think haggling is one of those attention gabbing words in an unpleasant way.

If the discussion was phrased as who has good negotiating skills I am sure this thread might attract many people pleased with what they have done on houses and cars to much smaller items.
Perhaps the first lesson is to see the sale and purchase of items as a negotiation process in which it is quite reasonable in some circumstances to see what can be done to sharpen the price.

On a social point in a very connected world are “hagglers” freeloaders banking on the fact they are an additional income stream to the vendor whilst the network costs and most of the profit is being provided by the mass of subscribers? ….. oops that sounds emotive!


It’s not difficult to save money without haggling.

Last year I phoned Vodafone for my PAC code, intending to move to another service provider. When I was asked why I was leaving I explained that I wanted an affordable SIM-only contract with a decent amount of data for tethering. They immediately offered me one for half the published price.

Earlier this year I saved about £500 on my home insurance removal by moving from Santander to Towergate. Over the years Santander had added additional cover including at least one item I could not possibly benefit from. Towergate gave me the cover I needed.

Now that I’m retired I can save a significant amount on last minute holiday bookings. At the weekend I made a late holiday booking, two weeks in advance. I’ve saved 40% on the catalogue price, though I could have saved 10% or 20% by booking before Christmas, depending on the company. Late bookings help companies too.

I wonder if there are any discounts for not haggling. 🙂