One of the best ways to save money is to haggle on the price. Here in the U.S., the great art of haggling has all but disappeared as we accept the sticker price. However, as the recession has us thinking of the financial basics that includes frugal living, haggling is making something of a comeback. In some cases, it is possible to haggle for a discount. However, you might have to be prepared ahead of time to get a better price. And you might need to be willing to take a slightly damaged model. Sometimes, though, better prices are available just for the asking: At some stores, employees are able to provide a 10% or 15% discount when you ask. Here are some other tips that can help you find success in haggling a lower price.
Photo by patrikneckman via Flickr
1. Don’t Be Rude
The first rule of haggling is to be polite. You want to show good manners and patience as you ask for a discount. State your case calmly, and do so as privately as possible. If you are loud, the salesclerk is less likely to haggle, since they don’t want a very public declaration that all-comers can negotiate a lower price.
2. Know Your Stuff
Before you begin to haggle, make sure you know what you’re about. Find out store policies on haggling, as well as how they handle it when you bring in competitor’s ads. Some stores will give you a discount off their competitor’s lowest price. Make sure you check to see what the policy is. Also, do a little research to see what prices are on similar items around town. You should also have an idea of what you are willing to pay, and the value of the item to you. It also helps to know which stores have commissioned salespeople who have a little more flexibility in offering bargains.
3. Back Up Your Claim
Be sure that you have a good reason to be asking for a discount (the salesperson doesn’t just give you one for asking). Show sales fliers from other stores, or show a print-out of the web site where the item is cheaper. One thing my husband and I do is check the online price of what we are buying. If it is less, we ask the store if they will honor the online price. Most stores are happy to honor the price, since it boosts their location’s sales figures.
You can also point out flaws in an item to strengthen your position. If the flaw is practically unnoticeable, or something that you can fix, this makes it even better. You can get your discount and then do what you can to improve the item once you get it home. Plenty of people haggle to get discounts on scratch and dent appliances. It can also help to offer to bring home a floor model. We saved $120 on a discontinued floor model fish tank with stand once, and got a good discount on a floor model couch for our entertainment room.
4. Consider the Timing
In some cases, you can be more successful in your haggling efforts if you show up toward the end of the month. If the store has commissioned salespeople trying to meet quotas, you are more likely to get a deal at the end of the month as the salesperson attempts to hit a goal. You can also time your haggling according to the season, asking for a discount at the end of a season when the store is trying to unload merchandise.
5. Accept a Throw-In or an Upgrade
When my husband and I bought a washer and dryer set, we didn’t quite get the price we wanted after a little bargaining. So we tried a different tack: Asking for free delivery and set-up. Without a vehicle that could transport the appliances, we would have to pay $75 for the store to deliver. The salesperson agreed, and we saved a little bit, even though we didn’t exactly get the price we wanted.
You might be able to get a free item, or a free upgrade to a better item, if you can’t get the lower price. Remember: A freebie or upgrade can be almost as valuable as a discount.
Miranda is a professional personal finance journalist. She is a contributor for several personal finance web sites. Her work has been mentioned in and linked to from, USA Today, The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. She also has her own personal finance blog: Planting Money Seeds.