Many people have been brought up to believe that haggling – outside of a jumble sale or bazaar – is either the sign of an impolite person or a tightwad. But if you do it properly there’s nothing impolite about haggling, even at the snootiest high street store. And what’s wrong with being a bit of a tightwad? The economic downturn lessened the stigma of frugality for many people who lost their jobs or even their homes and possibly had to rely on family and friends, or even the occasional payday loan, just to make ends meet. Saving money has become a lasting habit for many smart people even as the economy and their own personal situations have improved, and haggling can save you significant money if you do it right. It can also be lots of fun. There’s no reason not to try it, regardless of your current economic situation. Here are six tips for successful haggling.
1. Be nice – remember this is shopping, not war. If you are pleasant and polite the merchant will be much more likely to see things your way. Make the exchange a pleasing, rewarding experience for both of you – and whatever you do, don’t take it too seriously or be too wed to a specific outcome. And leave your ego out of it too. Remember that this is not about “winning” or “losing” but about getting a better price and doing so without making the merchant feel you’re trying to get something for nothing. Be confident but not arrogant, and always respectful and polite. If the merchant refuses to lower the price it’s really no big deal. There are plenty of great bargains to be found elsewhere.
2. Only haggle with someone who has the authority to make pricing decisions. This may seem self-evident. But some novice hagglers, eager to get that combination coffee maker/cuckoo clock at a rock-bottom price, shove it in the face of the first person who looks like a sales clerk and plunge right into a haggling spiel. While it’s pretty safe to assume that a solo booth owner at a bazaar has the authority to haggle, sales personnel at department or specialty retailers may not have such authority. If a customer service person tells you that she or he is not authorized to give a discount, ask to see a manager or supervisor. Whenever possible, though, try to determine the person’s status and authority before you even start the conversation.
3. Remember that timing is everything. If you go shopping when a store is approaching the end of a big sale you may be able to get some fantastic deals. Stores need to clear their display spaces for new stock and/or for the new season. And if the item has obviously been there for a long time you might be able to get a really good deal; the shopkeeper or manager will probably be delighted to mark it down just to get it out the door. Another point about timing: Do it when the store is relatively quiet and there aren’t a lot of customers. Trying to haggle when there’s a long queue for a single overworked shopkeeper is not a good idea.
4. Test the waters by starting small. If you don’t yet have the confidence to ask for a discount on a specific item you can always ask the merchant to throw in another item for free or at a discounted price. Some necessary add on such as free cables for electronic equipment is a good place to start, although many stores automatically offer such items for free anyway if you buy a pricey piece of electronics. In any case many stores will be happy to accommodate a request for a free or discounted item. You never know until you ask.
5. Look for scratches, dents, and other imperfections. Stores often discount display items anyway, but you should also be on the lookout for items that have even minute imperfections. Dents or scratches on electrical appliances or electronic equipment, marks or subtle discoloration on clothing, or even a slightly torn page or a smudgy dust jacket on a book could all be leverage for negotiation. The storekeeper may reason that if you noticed these imperfections other customers will notice them too and that the merchandise will be more difficult to sell at the asking price. Accordingly, as long as you keep your request reasonable the merchant may be happy to give you a discount. Needless to say, don’t go around trying to sully the merchandise yourself just so you can get a bargain. Not only is that unethical but if you get caught, the merchant will most likely impose the “If you break it, you’ve bought it” rule – sans the discount you were seeking in the first place.
6. Ask about discount policies for special groups (such as students or senior citizens). Stores, restaurants and hotels are often happy to give discounts to specific groups such as students, senior citizens, pensioners or even just frequent customers. Some will proudly advertise that fact, whilst others may have a policy of offering those discounts but don’t advertise it, perhaps banking on the fact that many people won’t ask. If you are a student or a pensioner or a member of some other specific demographic for which businesses are known to give discounts, make it a point to ask.
It is always possible that the merchant will rebuff your haggling efforts, but you never know until you try. In fact haggling is even built into some retail stores’ official policies, and some merchants would rather lower their prices a bit than have you walk away. Have fun!
If you look online you’ll find many more tips about successful haggling; start here: http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-2543575/7-secret-steps-successful-High-Street-haggling.html