Broadband: how to save without switching

Computer with essential broadband connection,
while wisteria takes over the world.

Last weekend, I saved about £150 on our bills, just by calling our broadband provider.
Reckon it must be the best paid few minutes I’ve ever spent!

Also makes me wonder why I hadn’t got round to it before.
It’s not as if you don’t hear all the time about how you can save money by switching suppliers.

I’ve happily switched the likes of savings accounts, electricity providers and insurance policies in search of better rates, but somehow broadband never reached the top of the “to do” list.

I think it’s a combination of bad experiences, fear, confusion and laziness, with is quite a big burden for just an internet connection.

Bad experiences because we’ve had a rubbish time with broadband providers in the past. (BT and Virgin, I’m thinking of you.) But Plusnet have been great. They even moved our contract with us when we decamped from London to Suffolk, and had us up and running on the day we moved in. So brilliant that I rarely have to think about our broadband at all.

Fear, because the internet connection really is at the heart of our home. On the rare occasions our broadband ever falters, you can hear the cries from all over the house. Catch up TV, games apps, web research and social media addictions all grind to a halt. Apart from my own internet dependency, I have no wish to be lynched by my husband and children for depriving them of theirs.

Confusion, because I wouldn’t know a fibre optic cable from an ADSL  line if it hit me in the face, and all the techie options give me a headache.

And laziness because hey, on an average day I’d rather not deal with the faff of broadband bills.

So in the meantime, our connection kept connecting and the direct debits kept disappearing, and I always had vague intentions about seeing if we could get a better deal.

Then this weekend I finally added up our bills.
Home phone and broadband, for one year: nearly £500. Ouch.
It’s not even as if we make many calls!

So finally I searched my emails for log in details, pestered my husband until he found where he’d written the password, and logged on to look at our bills. It made me miss the days of paper bills – I never needed a password to open an envelope.

Turns out while our unlimited usage for broadband was working just fine, our all-inclusive phone calls weren’t so inclusive after all. We’d been racking up charges for calling mobiles (necessary because there’s limited mobile coverage at home) and for international calls (ie ringing my mother in Madeira. Hi Mum!).

So I checked a couple of comparison websites, and had a look at all the dazzling free offers from broadband providers I dislike.
After inspecting our bills, I realised the super-low prices advertised were unrealistic.
On top of any free broadband we’d need to pay line rental, plus any call packages for calling internationally and during the day.

Next I took a deep breath and rang Plusnet to see if we could do any better.

I pressed the options to say I was thinking of leaving, even though we weren’t really, and got through to a nice man who told me we’d been with Plusnet for (cough) 8 years. Wow. Guess it really has taken me a long time to get round to dealing with our broadband bills.

I explained our bills were high, so we were thinking of going elsewhere, and he promptly suggested halving our broadband costs for two years, down from £9.99 to £4.99 a month.
Hurray! Saved £60 a year and £120 overall straight off!

I queried the charges for line rental, and discovered we could save about 10% by paying for a year in advance. Woohoo, saved another £18!

He had a look at the extra phone charges, and pointed out that our bills already include an allowance for international calls, but I talk too much. (although he was far too polite to put it in quite those words).

Turns out the international allowance only includes calls up to 30 minutes. Bang on for longer, and you get landed with hefty call costs.
So either I need to shut up sooner, or if there are great events of world-shattering importance to discuss, I need to hang up at about minute 29 and redial. If I’d remembered that last year, I could have saved £38.

He also suggested we make fewer calls to mobiles, and I explained about our rubbish mobile coverage indoors. Finally, grudgingly, he put me on hold and came back to say that if we paid an extra £3 a month, we could have an allowance of 100 minutes of mobile calls a month. So the £75 we spent on calls to mobiles last year would now get swallowed up by the £36 a year allowance – saving nearly £40!

So by the end of the call, I’d saved:
– £60 off broadband charges
– £18 off line rental
– £38 off international calls, now I’ve been reminded to get off the phone within half an hour
– £39 off calls to mobiles, by paying for an allowance of mobile minutes
Total: £155

I was even able to take his extension number, ring off and go away and think about it.
My husband and I did waver a bit about whether to shell out for speedier fibre optic broadband (so blisteringly fast it’s like “a super-charged Usain Bolt on roller skates” according to one comparison website) but decided our connection is fine as it is.
Then I rang back and agreed all the changes.

Best of all, we don’t have the hassle of switching provider. Sure, it might have been nice to get some cashback and free broadband for a while. But we’re happy with Plusnet. And even happier now it will cost us less.

So if you’ve ever wanted to save money on your broadband bills, it really is worth giving your provider a call!


Anyone else had good or bad experiences switching broadband supplier? Or got a better deal just by giving them a call? I’d love to hear!


Disclaimer: Nope this still isn’t a sponsored post, just writing about my own experience and opinions.

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8 Comments

  1. April 22, 2016 / 11:16 am

    We switched provider last week. We'd been with the previous company for more than a decade, as we had a tv package too, but we finally said it wasn't worth the money so we moved.

    We're saving most of the money due to dropping the tv service but we have faster broadband now which I great. The swap was no trouble at all, we were offline for a workday, and set up of the new router was very simple. We've had a letter from our old provider every day offering us a great new deal too!

    • April 22, 2016 / 11:22 am

      Brilliant! Glad you had such a good experience switching and were able to save money while still benefiting from faster broadband. It's so worth while getting round to getting a better deal.

  2. April 23, 2016 / 2:29 am

    I had been with BT for years but the prices kept going up and up so my daughter suggested I move to Plusnet. I did this last October and I am saving about 20 pounds per month as well as getting 75 pounds in a cash back deal! I know the broadband charges will go up again in October but hopefully I can negotiate with Plusnet and stay with them.

    • April 23, 2016 / 10:11 am

      Great savings! Definitely worth a call when your introductory offer ends, I reckon.

  3. May 1, 2016 / 12:46 pm

    We too had been with BT for years (and years and years) and put up with their simply terrible customer service and hefty bills, but when we moved we decided to drop them completely for our broadband and now we have our own broadband satellite dish and are with a company that sorts out any problems as and when they happen with a single phone call, there have been only two occasions that we have needed to ring in the two and a half years we've been here.

    We also dropped SKY and paying monthly for their television service, and opted for a Freesat box instead. The best decision we ever made, it has now more than paid for itself and we watch tv free (except for the tv licence of course) 🙂

    • May 15, 2016 / 7:13 am

      Delighted you've been able to save money on both broadband and TV. It really is worth looking around for alternatives. We use Freeview for extra channels, for similar reasons that you have Freesat.

  4. June 4, 2016 / 11:51 pm

    I need to call my mum in Australia and I found a VOIP service which cuts the cost by a huge amount (down to four euro cents per minute). There is nothing fancy to understand or sign up for, all you do is dial a five or six digit phone number before the usual phone number. If you just do a google search and look for "voip cheap calls uk to portugal" and you will find some. Hope this helps.

    • June 9, 2016 / 10:41 am

      Thanks for the great tip about VOIP services!