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Money Matters - June/July 22

Money On My Mind – The Martin Lewis Column

He’s the UK’s leading money saving expert - a journalist and presenter who has kept millions of pounds in people’s pockets as well as lifting the lid on the threats and dangers we need to be aware of as consumers.

In this month’s column, Martin Lewis looks at haggling, and discusses whether it’s a dying art into which we need to breathe new life.

We have a real aversion to haggling in this country – in fact, I would say we are some of the world’s worst hagglers.

We’ve lost the bravado and confidence we once had to cut a deal, yet if you master haggling, and it is an art form, it’s fun and actually adds a layer of enjoyment to the process of buying and selling.

Most people encounter haggling when it comes to their utilities and other service providers, and in simple terms, if you don’t haggle when it comes to renewing your broadband or TV package or mobile contract or car insurance or whatever it is, you are simply costing yourself money that could translate to a meal, or a deposit for a car, or a holiday.

The first part of haggling where utilities are concerned is to get on price comparison sites in order to get a benchmark of what is available elsewhere, because that's your target. Usually, these best offers will be in the form of ‘new customer’ initiatives, though as an existing customer who has already paid into the pot, why the hell should you not be qualifying for the same deals.

At the end of the day, a lot of haggling comes down to being honest, forceful and confident, but also charming and friendly. Explain your budget, explain the better deal being offered by another provider, or by your own provider to new customers, and make it clear you will leave unless something changes.

Of course, many of us know those best deals come when, as an existing customer, you get put through to disconnections – it’s the point at which your provider is really just one step away from losing you for good, and it is those customer service agents who have the ability to get you a much better price.

Ultimately, it is your negotiation here that will count, but if you don’t get the deal you think you deserve, my advice is to walk away.

If you can negotiate a new deal, don’t get caught on a long agreement, and do remember to phone back to renegotiate again when any promotional period ends.

Mostly, be charming, friendly and forceful, and enjoy the process of haggling!