Are you paying too much for your utilities? #ChallengeYourBills! | Modern Mummy

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Are you paying too much for your utilities? #ChallengeYourBills!

Towards the end of the summer holidays Contact Numbers UK challenged me to reduce my household bills. Now I'm always up for a challenge, and if it means I'm going to reduce my monthly outgoings in the process then that's even better!

I only have the standard utilities at home; gas, electricity, water and landline/broadband. My monthly repayments for the first three have always been very reasonable, but my BT bill has been a bone of contention for quite some time; I just needed a kick up the bum to do something about it.

I've been with BT for my entire adult life and, bearing in mind I moved out at 18, that's a long old time. Like the majority of the population (I would imagine) I've just stuck with them for ease, and for fear of a switch going wrong. I have always had a landline and broadband with them and more recently I have also paid extra for anytime calls and for calls to 0845 numbers but still my bills have been creeping up and up over the past few months.

I used a comparison website to look up my other options and was genuinely really surprised to see so many providers out there. I was a bit wary of going for a company I'd not heard of before but I ended up finding a very good deal with Sky.

My current bills were in excess of £60 a month but I managed to get exactly the same deal (including the anytime calls) for £27.40 - so less than half the price! I also only had to sign up for a year, when my broadband deal with BT had been for two.

I telephoned BT to advise them of my findings and see if they wanted to keep their customer of 19 years but was told they couldn't match Sky's offer. They did offer me a £15 reduction on my monthly package, but I would have been daft to accept that when the new one was a further £15 a month cheaper. They also warned me (unnecessarily sternly, in my opinion) that the new service wouldn't be nearly as good as theirs.

I went ahead with the switch anyway and I am so glad that I did. I received my new hardware from Sky via post, so I didn't have to wait in for an engineer, and there was hardly any disruption to my service; I was without the internet for about two hours and that was it. And to think I'd put off changing providers for so long for these two daft reasons!

Here are a few other tips from Contact Numbers UK for challenging your bills, should you want to:

Research other deals - use those comparison websites that are advertised everywhere! They do all the maths for you and are really simple to use.

Know your worth - if you're a longstanding and reliable customer, companies won't want to lose you (unless they're BT ;)). Use your loyalty for financial gain - and make sure you've done your research before you speak to anyone.

Time it right - month end, or the end of the financial quarter, is a good time to negotiate! If a sales person hasn't met their target they will work harder to sign you up.

Don't beat around the bush - if you're considering leaving, say so at the outset. You'll be put straight through to the disconnections team, who usually have stronger deal-making powers. If

Don't be afraid to say no - this was where I went wrong with BT over the past decade! Stay strong if you're offered a price that isn't low enough and don't sign up to added extras.

Be polite - remember! The person you are speaking to is a human being and just doing their job. Be nice; aggression won't get you anywhere.

If necessary, leave - sometimes you won't get a better deal and you just have to say goodbye!

image credit: A Cornish Mum - thank you!


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