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10 Tips for Negotiating a Better Price on Anything

Money Talks News logo Money Talks News 2018-09-22 Brandon Ballenger

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These days, many people rely on technology to save money. They go online for Groupon offers, print coupons and scan deals pages.

Those are all worthy ways to cut costs. But there’s an even simpler way to save. It’s the technique human beings have used for millennia: haggling.

Many of us expect to haggle when shopping for big-ticket items like cars or houses. But there’s no reason you shouldn’t ask for a better deal with less-expensive items. It can work when you buy furniture or even stay at a hotel.

Or consider electronics: Last year, Consumer Reports said that 69 percent of online shoppers and 59 percent of in-store shoppers got a discount on an electronic product simply by haggling for it.

How do you know if you can haggle for something? There’s only one way to find out, and the worst that can happen is to receive a “no.” If you want to boost your odds, try these tips to increase your odds of haggling successfully:

1. Do your homework

Hispanic couple reviewing monthly bills finances© Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images Hispanic couple reviewing monthly bills finances

It’s easier to bargain for a deal — and recognize if you’re really getting one — when you understand the numbers. Before you go shopping, research prices and competitors. Check on store policies to see if a business matches prices, and under what conditions.

And while this obviously applies to big purchases like appliances, don’t stop there. If the dry cleaner down the street is charging $1 for shirts, why should you pay $1.25 at your current dry cleaner?

2. Don’t be afraid to walk away

Man giving credit card to salesclerk in sports shop© Thomas Northcut/Getty Images Man giving credit card to salesclerk in sports shop

Your biggest bargaining chip is the fact that your business isn’t guaranteed. If sellers are convinced you’re going to buy from them, you’re at their mercy.

Not getting the price you want? Tell the seller you’re going to see if the next competitor down the list can do better. The party with the power is the one who doesn’t care if the deal gets done.

3. Ask the right person

DEERFIELD BEACH, FL - OCTOBER 02: Salesman, Jerry Holsman, (C) speaks with Erich Spin (L) and Anna Zatta as they visit the Toyota of Deerfield dealership on the day that Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway announced it was acquiring the Van Tuyl Group the owner of the dealership on October 2, 2014 in Deerfield Beach, Florida. With the acquisition Buffett gets the largest privately held chain of auto dealerships. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)© Joe Raedle/Getty Images DEERFIELD BEACH, FL - OCTOBER 02: Salesman, Jerry Holsman, (C) speaks with Erich Spin (L) and Anna Zatta as they visit the Toyota of Deerfield dealership on the day that Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway announced it was acquiring the Van Tuyl Group the owner of the dealership on October 2, 2014 in Deerfield Beach, Florida. With the acquisition Buffett gets the largest privately held chain of auto dealerships. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Not everybody has the authority to negotiate, so seek out the decision-maker.

Whether it is an issue of sales, customer service, billing or cancellation, the person you speak to first might not have the authority to negotiate. Whenever someone can’t or won’t help you with any purchase or problem, say, “OK, I understand you can’t help me. So, may I please speak with someone who can?”

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4. Time it right

Customer giving clerk credit card. Fuse/Getty Images© Fuse/Getty Images Customer giving clerk credit card. Fuse/Getty Images

One trick to negotiating is understanding the other person’s business. For instance, at certain times of the year, clothing stores are eager to get rid of seasonal merchandise. Or, car dealers might push to meet an end-of-month quota.

Also remember that every salesperson is more attentive when business is slow, such as after the holidays or during summer doldrums. So, try to buy when other shoppers are staying home or keeping their wallets shut.

5. Pay with paper instead of plastic

Hand holding pile of cash.© tazytaz/Getty Images Hand holding pile of cash.

Businesses can pay up to 3 percent in transaction costs when they accept a credit card for payment. If you’re paying cash, you deserve to take up to that much — or even more — off the purchase price.

6. Don’t fear awkwardness

Women haggle with a customer.© Cavan Images/Getty Images Women haggle with a customer.

If you have little experience haggling, don’t sell yourself short just because it feels weird. You’re not being a cheapskate, and the other party isn’t going to hate you.

Don’t get flustered by a momentary silence, and don’t be afraid to pause and think. In fact, silence can be a bargaining tool. Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson was in securities sales for 10 years. He says:

In any negotiation, make an offer, then shut up. Wait 10 minutes in silence if you have to. Because more often than not, the next person to speak loses.


7. Be friendly

A receptionist speaks on the phone at the front desk of the Radisson Blu Hotel on February 8, 2013 in Nantes, western France. AFP PHOTO FRANK PERRY        (Photo credit should read FRANK PERRY/AFP/Getty Images)© Frank Perry/AFP/Getty Images) A receptionist speaks on the phone at the front desk of the Radisson Blu Hotel on February 8, 2013 in Nantes, western France. AFP PHOTO FRANK PERRY (Photo credit should read FRANK PERRY/AFP/Getty Images)

Being aggressive only works when you’re in the superior position. If you lack power — which you do when trying to negotiate something like a discounted hotel room — play nice. Rude customers are the rule for most people in customer service.

So, be the exception. Smile, be patient, make a joke. Nobody wants to help a jerk, but everyone wants to do a favour for a friend.

8. Be firm

Couple with car saleswoman.© Radius Images/Getty Images Couple with car saleswoman.

Being nice doesn’t mean rolling over. If you’re a steady customer, don’t be shy about pointing that out. Your loyalty should be worth something. And if not, your future business definitely is.

9. Be persistent

shutterstock_529409323© gpointstudio / Shutterstock.com shutterstock_529409323

Stacy’s rule is to ask three times:

When I go into a hotel, I ask for a discount. If they say no, I say, “Are you sure there’s not some special rate you can give me?” If they still say no, then I use my fallback. I smile big and say, “Well, you can at least give me the Elvis suite for the same price, right?” They invariably laugh, and almost invariably give me the best deal they possibly can.

10. Go for extras

Delivery man standing at the door of the house and carrying box with groceries.© Izabela Habur/Getty Images Delivery man standing at the door of the house and carrying box with groceries.

If the price is non-negotiable, don’t give up. There are other ways to sweeten a deal, such as:

  • A free upgrade
  • A future discount
  • Free shipping
  • Free delivery
  • Free installation

Sometimes, businesses are already prepared to offer these concessions, because they’re cheaper than dropping the price but still make customers happy.

For more on saving, check out the “15 Golden Rules for Saving on Every Purchase.”

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