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.
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.