What’s your best price and what can you throw in for free?”
Naturally, as teenagers, when dad haggled we found him terminally embarrassing, as in we could totally die of embarrassment.
Maybe it was his Scottish heritage (my tiny celtic nan could squeeze pennies like a giant crushing rocks), or maybe it was working as a used-car salesman in the 70’s (complete with sideburns and brown corduroy bellbottoms), but dad could talk down the toughest salesman to get the best deal possible and it usually included an exchange of his homebrew as part of the negotiations.
Tell him he’s dreamin’, son!” The Castle
You can haggle on pretty much any consumer good. I had a friend who would ask for a discount on clothes if they had a mark on them or loose threads. I’ve haggled at Big W when a book I wanted was the last one on the shelf and it was damaged.
There’s often a generous mark up on retail goods that allows stores not only to hold regular sales but to give the sales person leeway to give a discount when asked.
But you do have to ask.
Haggling isn’t hard, and it’s not scary, but there’s an art to it. Here are 6 tips for haggling effectively and get the best deals you can.
HOW TO HAGGLE EFFECTIVELY
1. DO YOUR RESEARCH
Doing your research and comparison shopping is the foundation of haggling.
Knowing the price range for your product from various stores gives you an idea of a reasonable asking price. You don’t want to ask an insultingly low price.
If you compare online, factor in delivery cost as part of your negotiation. Bricks and mortar stores can’t usually compete with online prices – remember you’re paying extra for the convenience of taking the product home today and the help of the salesperson.
Price isn’t the only bargain chip, however.
Free bonuses can sweeten a deal when a store can’t compete on price alone. Have a look around the store for accessories (not too expensive) that if thrown in, would help seal the deal.
As an example from my dad (and obviously going back a few year), when he bought a TV, he negotiated a free rabbit ears antenna and a packet of blank VHS tapes.
If you’re after a laptop, maybe you can get a free case or mouse or a discount on software or an external backup drive. Whatever you bargain, remember it doesn’t have to be just on price alone.
2. SET YOUR BUDGET
As you do your price comparisons, research the actual product you want to buy as well. You want to have a good idea of the features of each brand and which ones will suit your specific needs and your budget best.
It’s easy to be swayed by extra bells and whistles that you don’t need and then end up paying more, especially if the sales person is good at their job! So armour yourself against the charm of the sale with knowledge and a set budget.
When you know which products will best suit your needs, work out your maximum budget. What’s the most you’re willing to pay and will a store be able to reasonably meet that price?
Just don’t let slip to the sales person your maximum budget because you’ll undercut the negotiation before it’s begun.
3. BUILD A RAPPORT WITH THE SALES ASSISTANT
Effective haggling is like a well choreographed dance between two people.
It’s not demanding or aggressive, it’s respectful. The sales person wants to make a sale and you want to buy what you need at the best price possible – respectful negotiation creates a win-win situation for everyone.
Salespeople are trained to build a rapport with you in order to get you to buy; this works both ways.
Smile and listen to the salesperson before you even start bargaining. Let them tell you about the products. Give them your name and use theirs. Get into a conversation. Friendliness goes a long way and light chit chat breaks the ice. A salesperson will be more inclined to get you the best deal if they find you friendly.
Listening to their sales is not only polite, you might be able to bag an unexpected bargain. There may be floor stock or out of date models that suit your needs perfectly and come at a better price than you expected.
4. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK
While you don’t want to haggle too soon, you don’t get a bargain if you never ask.
“What’s the best price you can give me?”
Eight little words that can potentially save you hundreds each year.
But if you’re too shy or embarrassed to ask, you never get the deal. They can only say no, and there’s no harm done.
Even though you want to be friendly, you don’t want to be a pushover either. Friendly but firm is your best strategy.
5. ASK ABOUT A CASH DISCOUNT
This is not as common as it was a few years ago, but some stores give a discount if you pay cash.
Stores generally don’t offer a discount if you finance your purchase (think interest free loans). Cash gives you more negotiating power.
6. HAGGLING IDEAS
Negotiating lines include:
“What’s your best price?”
“Is that as low as you can go?”
“What discount can you give me for cash?”
“Can you match or better store X?” Price matching works on all sorts of items from larger purchases to small ones like DVDs.
“This product has a flaw, can you give me a discount”
“I only have $ to spend. Can you sell it to me for that?”
“I will have to call my spouse to see if it’s ok… no (s)he says we can only spend $.” This is a good line if you don’t feel confident about haggling.
“We’ll have to go away and think about it.” Salespeople know that the likelihood of you making a purchase dramatically decreases as soon as you walk out of the store and they may make a lower offer.
Silence is also a good haggling tactic. People rush to fill uncomfortable silences – they may fill it with a better offer.
“I can sell it for $350.”
“Ok, $330 is as low as I can go.”
7. BE PREPARED TO WALK AWAY
Not every negotiation is going to go your way or result in the bargain you were hoping for.
If a salesperson is unable to come to your price, part of haggling is knowing when to walk away. Sometimes this will result in the salesperson lowering the price, sometimes it will mean that you will have to shop elsewhere or make the purchase at the higher price.
You can leave yourself the option of coming back to purchase if you need to by telling the sales assistant you have to think about it, or you’re going to look around a bit more and see if you can get a better price elsewhere first.
You can haggle over just about anything and it’s a great way to save money. If you’re not haggling over purchases, you could be losing hundreds of dollars a year. The key is to haggle effectively with these 6 tips.
Melissa Goodwin is a writer and the creator of Frugal and Thriving who has a passion for living frugally and encouraging people to thrive on any budget. The blog is nine years old and is almost like her eldest baby. Prior to being a blogger and mum (but not a mummy blogger), she worked as an accountant doing other people’s budgets, books and tax.