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How to Haggle for a Better Price on Almost Everything

Smart shoppers know that everything is negotiable. Learn how to haggle for a better price on everything from cell phones to televisions, even in the United States and even big box stores!

How to haggle for a better price on almost anything.When you see a price tag, you probably assume you have to pay that price.

That’s not necessarily true. Last year, Consumer Reports found that 89 percent of people who haggled for better deals when shopping were given an extra discount at least once. Those who haggled for furniture saved $300. People who made some noise about their cell phone plans saved $80.

We asked shopping expert Teri Gault, founder of the Grocery Game, for tips on negotiating a better price on everything you buy – not just cars and houses.

1.  Remember that you’re not doing anything wrong by asking for a better price.

In many countries outside of America, negotiating with a salesperson about a price is the norm.

Haggling is slowly becoming more acceptable in this country. CNBC recently reported that many big box stores now expect customers to negotiate for big ticket items like televisions. Gault claims to haggle successfully nearly every time she goes shopping.

If you want to be a successful negotiator, the first step is to believe in your cause. “Haggling has a negative connotation, but it shouldn’t,” says Gault. “It doesn’t have to be dramatic or offensive. Remember that there’s always a price point where you’ll feel good about buying something, and the retailer will feel good about selling it.”

And that price isn’t always what’s written on the tag.

2. Have a clear reason for wanting a discount.

Whenever Gault asks a store clerk for price break on an item, she explains her reasons. “Sometimes it’s because the competition has a better price or because there’s a flaw in the item,” she says. “Sometimes I’m planning to buy the item in quantity. For instance, I’ll say, ‘Instead of buying one, I was thinking about buying two. Could that get me a discount?’ If they say they’ll give me 10% off for doing that, I’ll say, ‘What if I bought three? Would that get me 20 percent off?’”

She’s also careful to pose questions about discounts, not statements about why she deserves one, during the conversation.  And she repeats two little words – thank you – over and over and over. “The key is to respect the retailer and keep the conversation positive.”

3. If the clerk says no, ask – nicely – to speak with a manager.

If Gault isn’t getting anywhere with the salesperson, she’ll ask, “Do you mind if I speak with the manager?”

She’ll then follow the salesperson when he goes to find the manager. “Before he can tell the manager what I want, I stick out my hand, say hello and give my pitch,” she says. “Don’t let the clerk talk for you.”

If the answer is still no, don’t be afraid to say, “Thank you for your time” and start heading towards the door. Gault has found that the manager will often stop her at that point and agree to her request.

Have you had any success haggling? Or horror stories? Share them here.

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About Patty Lamberti

Patty Lamberti is a freelance writer and Professional-in-Residence at Loyola University Chicago, where she teaches journalism and oversees the graduate program in digital media storytelling. If she doesn't know something about money, you can trust she'll track down the right people to find out. You can learn more about her at www.pattylamberti.com. And if you have any story ideas, or questions about money etiquette that you'd like her or an expert to answer, email her at moneymannersqs@gmail.com.

Comments

  1. As a retail worker, I’m really just going to think you’re a cheap douche if you do this, honestly, especially at the big box stores, and I’m more unlikely to do it for you. There’s often nothing we can do with the price and the smaller stores probably deserve the business more. I’ll do it occasionally if you’re being nice to me and we strike up a conversation. I’m more willing to discount it a bit if it’s casual and we’ve established a friendship beforehand.

  2. This is so true, and was a lesson I learned accidentally! I had saved up $500 to buy my first big purchase: a new mattress. I went to countless stores and warehouses but wasn’t happy with the comfort or quality until I plopped down on a gorgeous brand new fancy schmancy mattress in the front display at a store. The guy told me it was something like $2,000 but on sale for $1,200, and laughed when I told him my budget was $500. He took me to the back closet where they keep the awful mattresses. Long story short, I spent 2 hours with the salespeople and the manager and finally gave up and walked out of the store. The manager chased after me into the parking lot and shouted “Okay! We’ll give you this one [the lovely display model] for $500!” And that is how I accidentally learned that haggling actually works in this country :-)

  3. The first point is what stops some people. Asking for a better price is perfectly fine. The worst they can do is say no. Often, people will attempt to haggle and get discouraged when someone tells them that they can’t get the price any lower. Sometimes you can; sometimes you can’t, but it never hurts to try!

  4. I’ve tried this a few times and it totally does work if there’s an obvious reason for the discount. Though I’m not in the US, I went into Poundland in the UK the other day and found a booklet missing its cover and pen, so I asked for a discount and they gave it to me for 25p… 75% savings right there! (Ok it’s not much, but hey, it’s something!)