Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ask and you will get

I'm one of the millions of people who received a letter from Virgin Media announcing a raise in prices. My first reaction was to leave and find a new provider, but looking at other companies' tariffs, I think I'm actually in good hands with Virgin. I only have broadband through fibre optic cable and, despite a few down times, like yesterday where it was down for hours (!), it's quite reliable. I don't need a landline, although that may change next year, and I don't have a telly, so it's just broadband and me.
Since I'm from an insurance background, I know that in case of a price increase, customers have the right to 'break' the contract without any fines, and can sign with a new company, so I checked the small print and found that that applied to my contract with Virgin, too. Well, I hate hassle, and to avoid that I called them up and asked them what they can do for me. After a bit of haggling I'll end up paying 15p more, but it will still be around �5 less each month than the normal price. This will include a renewal of my 12 months contract.
It pays to ask because the companies don't want to lose customers, particularly not if they've been with them for years. You need to be a little persistent, though, they won't offer you anything right away, but if you make clear that you expect them to appreciate your loyalty, and if not, you'll leave, they'll normally co-operate. In my time as an insurance broker, I learned that new clients who signed up for a car insurance, always got a better deal than the one who's been with the company for years. You can ring them up and ask them for the newest offer.
I do that regularly: first I check the market, then call up my providers to negotiate, normally with a positive outcome. There's always something companies can do. At least in my experience.
Beware, though, using comparing sites like MoneySupermarket or uSwitch, as they may not have the cheapest tariffs available. I found it's better to call the individual companies directly and ask what their latest tariffs are, then compare yourself. It's a bit more labour intensive, but if it saves you money, why not? Depending on how much, you can put it aside for a lovely night out or towards a new Kindle, a holiday or a car. Whatever takes your fancy.

Note: Make sure you have checked other companies before agreeing to anything. Providers will try to get a 'yes' out of you quickly. If unsure, check again and don't agree to anything if put on the spot. Ask for a time frame, until when you need to make a decision, then note it down together with the name of the person you're discussing with and date and time of the call so you can refer to that particular conversation.

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