Tips and Tricks: Negotiate with Sky and Virgin Media

Hello everyone! In my last article I highlighted that after doing a TV audit I had cancelled Sky, and saved quite a bit by doing so. If you’re not feeling quite so drastic however there is another route….

Both Sky and Virgin maintain a number of deals which they’ll offer to customers who enquire about them! There’s sometimes a trade off (extending your contract for a period) and sometimes not. This one really is a case of ‘don’t ask don’t get.’

I’m actually a believer that both companies offer a pretty good product – but they should be considered a premium offering as they’re not cheap. In my very first article on this site we spoke of the need to challenge your spending to make sure you are actually using something, and this is a prime example!

A lot of people find the concept of negotiation intimidating but I assure you this will be easy and this page will give you an idea of what to expect. I can only say that my experience with Sky’s customer services was always very positive and they’re by a large a cheery bunch, even when you’re calling to cancel.

Most of this experience is based on Sky, as they’ve who I’ve negotiated with recently whereas it’s been quite a few years since my last tangle with Virgin Media…..

Part 1: Do the research.

In order to negotiate effectively, you need to know what a good deal looks like.

In the case of the major providers they’re going to do all the work for us – they try so so hard to bring in new customers but don’t reward loyalty quite so well…..

So whichever provider you’re with, go to their rivals website. Try and work out what package is closest to your own and tot what they’re offering.

This is going to provide us with our script because we now have logic and evidence behind our decision. You’ve got the means to say something like this:

“I’ve been a loyal Sky/Virgin customer for 5 years! I’m paying £75 a month but I’ve just seen a deal with Sky/Virgin for the same offering at £45 a month. I’m going to have to switch with that difference unless we can do something…..”

This sends a few signals. It tells the person we’re negotiating with we’re serious because we have hard information.

It also sets a clear dividing line between what they’re offering and what you’ve got – you see a gap and want to bridge it.

Part 2: How Sky and Virgin play it.

Now Sky and Virgin play a clever little trick at this point. They’ll ask to understand what services you use and what you watch.

This is partly to understand where can honestly save you money, but also a way of getting you feeling nice and happy about those shows you watch on Sky/Virgin! If you love some Game of Thrones for example, they’ll probably note this is on Sky Atlantic and you won’t be able to get it on Virgin….

They’ll then run through a summary of what you’ve just told them and ask if they’ve got that right and you want to continue. Stay hard hearted and say yes!

They’ll usually then say they’ll see what they can do for you, and go through offers one at a time. If you’re looking for relatively low levels of hassle, most of these deals are usually pretty good – often 20% odd off for a year of extending your contract.

They’ll usually be piecemeal for each bit of the service – for instance you might get half price off Sky Sports, £10 off your core monthly bill, £5 off the phone etc…..

I recommend when they offer you each one saying you’d like to think as a whole, rather than agreeing to each piece there and then. It helps to make notes as you go so you can work out a total saving.

Finally they’ll ask you how it sounds. You may choose to say yes as the deal likely sounds good. However you can do better if you’re willing to hold your nerve. Stay strong and stay firmly (if it applies of course):

“Thank you for helping, but I think the other deal still fits my requirements better, and I’d still like to cancel.”

Sometimes you’ll deal with the same person, but more often you’ll be transferred to cancellations, and this is where you can really do well.

(FYI – if you are legitimately interested in what they have now, walking away to “think about it” seems a sensible strategy but can backfire. The deals Sky/Virgin offer generally last for a couple of weeks – something else will be on, but it may not be the same thing you just got offered and will have to go through the process again.)

Stage 3 – Cancellation/Customer Retention

By name, the cancellation department sounds like it should be simply there to guess what….. help you cancel! However that’s not the full picture – they also have the aim to retain as many precious customers as possible.

They’ll usually ask you to go over the reason again why you’re leaving, and acknowledge it. Reaffirm you’re sorry, but you just want to go.

At this point, you may hear something like this:

“Ok, you’ve been a loyal customer with us for 5 years and it would be a shame to see you go. I’ve had a look at we could do £x for the services you’ve had now. How does that sound?”

This is likely to be the best offer you’ll get – when I was leaving recently, the offer at this stage was half what I was paying monthly. I was determined to cancel properly but I have to admit – I was tempted.

If it sounds good, you probably want to think about taking this. If not, saying no will likely result in your cancellation going ahead. However, you may still get lucky with pushing things further.

Stage 4 – Post-Cancellation Retention

About a week after you’ve cancelled, you may start getting calls on your registered number – try and pick these up if possible. This will be Sky/Virgin’s last ditch attempt to try and get you back, and some people have had great deals.

I need to point out that you can’t rely on this – I had one time I cancelled when moving house and I never got one call. The most recent time I cancelled Sky I was bombarded with calls!

I hope this helps! If you have any further questions, please do feel free to read comments. And if this article has been useful to you, please remember to like the Wilderness on Facebook for more below or if you fill out your e-mail address below we’ll mail you new articles!

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