How to negotiate with your internet service provider
You may be able to get a better deal on your internet service by negotiating with your internet service provider (ISP). We show you what information you’ll need to gather beforehand, how to find deals with other providers, how to speak with your ISP about lowering your monthly bill, and additional ways to save.
How to negotiate with your ISP
- Gather information about your current internet service
- Research what competing ISPs have to offer
- Call your internet provider and ask for a better deal
- Consider other ways to save
Gather information about your current internet service
To put yourself in the best position to negotiate with your ISP, you’ll need to gather information about the deal you’re getting now so you can compare it to what other companies are offering.
Start by having a close look at your monthly internet bill and your contract (if you have one) to find information you can leverage when you call your internet provider.
- Are you paying more for your plan than when you signed up? Your provider may be willing to restore the introductory price in order to keep you as a customer.
- Are you paying more than new customers are? You may be able to convince your provider to give you the same rate as a new customer. It makes better financial sense for the company to retain an existing customer by giving a discount than to lose a paying customer.
- Do you have no contract or is your contract nearly over? Then your ISP will know you can cancel anytime or choose not to renew your contract without worrying about high early termination fees. Those who have recently signed a contract, or multiple contracts for additional bundled services like cable TV or cell phone plans, will have a much tougher time negotiating.
- How long have you been a customer? If you’re a loyal customer with a good payment history, your provider will have more reasons to want to keep you.
- How does the actual speed of your internet service compare to the advertised speed? You can test your current download speed with a tool like Ookla Speedtest. If you’re regularly getting speeds far below what you’re paying for, you should let your provider know you’re unhappy.
- Have you been having issues with your service? Many things can go wrong with home internet service, including outages, equipment malfunctions, delayed repairs, billing errors, or poor customer service. If problems aren’t resolved quickly and professionally, let your provider know you’re considering taking your business elsewhere because their service has been more trouble than it’s worth.
Make sure you have basic details about your current internet plan handy so you can compare with plans from other ISPs. You’ll want to know the type of connection (e.g. DSL, cable, fiber, or satellite), the advertised download and upload speed, and the monthly plan price and costs of any additional fees.
Research what competing ISPs have to offer
Your ISP is more likely to give you a discount if you can show that you’ve found better options from their competition. Have a look at our ranking of the best cheap internet providers and find ISPs in your area:
Once you’ve figured out which other internet providers carry service to your address, you should check their plans, prices, and promotions. When you find plans similar to yours (or better) in terms of speed and connection type, make a note of the ones that cost less than what you’re paying now. The more plans you can find that fit the bill, the clearer your argument will be when you try to negotiate for a discount or price match.
Call your internet provider and ask for a better deal
Knowing the right approach and having the right information at your fingertips makes negotiation with your ISP much easier.
Planning and preparing to negotiate
To negotiate with your ISP effectively, you will have to pick up the phone and call their customer support line. Other ways of contacting your provider, like online chat or email, are primarily used for tech support and aren’t likely to be useful.
The best time to call your ISP is during normal business hours when more staff are available, rather than on evenings or weekends. You should set aside about an hour for the call. Though it might not take that long, there could be a wait time or you could get put on hold when being transferred from a frontline customer service representative to an agent who handles customer retention.
If you have a contract, calling when it’s almost over is ideal. The timing will show your provider that you’re serious about switching if you don’t get a lower price and you wouldn’t be held back by cancellation fees.
When you call, make sure you bring your research notes for reference. It’s helpful to have a copy of your latest internet bill and a list of plans from other providers that are a better deal than your current plan.
1. Speak with the frontline customer service representative
The first person you speak with might not be able to help you, but they will be able to transfer you to someone who deals with customer retention and who could give you a discount. Let them know you’re considering canceling your internet service. The customer service representative will probably respond with questions from a script to find out why you want to cancel so that they can convince you to stay. You don’t have to “threaten” to cancel—you simply have to explain your situation in a way that makes it clear that you’re serious about switching to a new ISP if your monthly bill can’t be lowered.
Here are some examples of things you can say:
- “I’m considering canceling because I’ve found a better deal elsewhere. I want to know if there’s anything you can do to… [lower the cost of my plan / keep the cost of my plan within my budget / match the price of your competitor / go back to my original promo price].”
- “I don’t want to go through the hassle of switching, so… [can you work with me to find a solution / is there anything you can do to help / what can you do to lower the cost]?”
- “After the issues I’ve been having, I could consider continuing to give your company a chance only if the cost were lower.”
Once you’ve made your position clear, ask to be transferred to someone who can help you get a better deal. This will usually be someone in a department called retentions, cancellations, or customer loyalty.
They may try to avoid transferring you immediately by saying something along the lines of “Let me try to help you with your issue first.” Hear them out and see what they can do for you, then firmly and politely ask again to be transferred. At first, ISPs will usually only offer something small, like a one-time credit, if they offer anything. The retention department will be empowered to offer more. Remember that your internet provider wants to keep you as a customer, and it’s better for them to give a discount than to lose a customer entirely.
2. Discuss your situation with someone who handles cancellations and retention
Once you’ve been transferred, explain your situation again in the same way as you did before. Make sure to keep a positive attitude and be clear about what resolution would make you happy enough to stay.
Remember to mention if you’re paying a higher rate than before, if you’re paying more than new customers are, if your contract is almost over, if you’ve been a loyal customer for a long time, or if you’ve had any issues with your internet service. These points will strengthen your argument for a discount.
You may not get the result you want from the conversation initially. You can expect the representative to resist giving a discount and offer other resolutions first. They may push back using scripted statements. Here’s how to counter them:
- They could suggest lowering the speed of your internet or cutting back on bundled services to shrink your bill. Keep the conversation focused on how to lower the cost of your current plan so you don’t have to switch to another ISP to get the same service for a better price.
- When you tell the representative you’ve found better deals elsewhere, they may try to convince you that their service is better than their competitors’ in some way. Let them know your main concern is savings rather than details about the service itself.
- Instead of a lower rate, they may offer other things, like an upgraded router or extra TV channels. If that happens, thank them but let them know that the offer doesn’t solve your issue and reiterate your request for a discount of some kind.
If the representative finally offers you a discount, ask “Is that the best you can do?” They may or may not offer a more significant discount at this stage.
3. Accept their offer or try again
If you’re left unsatisfied with the results of your first attempt, you don’t have to cancel your service immediately. Instead you can ask to speak with someone else or tell them you’re going to take time to think things over and call back again later. Alternatively, you can switch to one of the other internet providers you’ve researched if they have a better deal.
If you’re successful in snagging a satisfactory deal, congratulations! Ask the customer service representative to send you the details by email so you can fully understand the terms before accepting any changes to your current plan. Discounts and extras offered by your ISP may come with strings attached, like a longer contract or a built-in price increase later. You’ll also want to have written confirmation of the terms in case there are discrepancies about the discount on future bills.
Consider other ways to save
There are even more ways to save money on your internet service beyond bill negotiation. Our guide to saving on your internet bill offers tips like getting your own router or getting discounts for paperless billing. We also have a guide to getting free and low-cost internet and a ranking of the best cheap internet providers for those who are prepared to switch ISPs.
Brittany is a Contributing Writer for Switchful with over five years of experience writing about technology in the US and Europe. Her primary focus is on mobile and internet topics. She is passionate about helping people choose the right tech for their needs at the right price.
Bri Field has a background in academia, research writing, and brand marketing. She has edited scientific publications, conference papers, digital content, and technical communications. As Assigning Editor, she enjoys ensuring all content is accurate, clear, and helpful. In her free time, you can find her in the kitchen trying a new recipe, out on a hike, or working through her massive TBR list.