Can You Haggle Your Way to a Better Deal?

Modern American shoppers may not practice it often, but haggling is in our blood. The art of haggling was embraced in the U.S.A. until the late 1800s, when the concept of the sticker price was introduced. By the 1930s, sticker prices on everyday purchases were well established. In Asia, Africa and Latin America, however, haggling is still embedded in the culture. Many foreign marketplaces resemble farmer’s markets, where every price holds an asterisk implying “or best offer.”

To be a haggling hero in the U.S., try negotiating for just about everything. According to Consumer Reports, buyers had the highest success rate haggling on hotel rates, followed by cell phone bills, clothing, jewelry, new cars, airfare and appliances. But don’t limit yourself to only products or services you know someone else has successfully haggled. Try haggling for every purchase, including already-discounted merchandise, cable, electronics and clothing. Just don’t expect success every time.

Most people save haggling for big purchases like a car or house. Negotiating the accessories and/or terms of service of a product is considered haggling as well. Most businesses want to keep loyal customers coming back, so use this to your advantage. For example, cell phone companies may offer a discount for long-term customers if you tell them you’re considering another service provider. Use this experience to make other purchases the same way. When it comes to discounts, sometimes you just have to ask.

Bargaining on high-priced items is a lot easier than with smaller items, however. A true haggler accepts the challenge of thinking outside of the box to get a better price on anything. Consider your experience bargaining for big-ticket items and practice for negotiating on lower-priced products (even though it may seem like this should be reversed).

Are you ready to accept the challenge and start haggling? Stack the deck with these tips when negotiating for a better deal.

Just ask. Haggling starts with a question. You can’t get a better price or extras with-out asking.

Negotiate with the right person. Not everyone has the power in today’s retail environment to make a deal. Ask for a manager.

Be considerate of the business by negotiating out of the way or choosing a time when the store is less crowded.

Be respectful. You will always get better results with sugar than with vinegar.

Read the store policies, such as the coupon policy, store guarantees and return policies before you arrive at the store. Most stores post the policies on their website. It’s important to know the rules managers are required to follow.

Time your negotiation carefully. When a name brand electronic company releases the new version of their most popular product, it’s the perfect time to negotiate a better price on the old version.

Find a flaw. The product could be nearing its expiration date, have a cosmetic flaw or been in store inventory for a long time.

Research your purchase ahead of time. If another store offers the product cheaper, print out proof or bring the flyer along with you and ask rival stores to make you a better deal.

Know when to walk away. If you cannot agree on the price with the seller, walk away. Nothing is more persuasive than spending your money at another store.

Do not limit your negotiations to brick and mortar stores. The same practice applies to online haggling as well.

For the last 100 years, we’ve been taught not to question the sticker and just accept the expense. To become a haggling hero, you need to step out of your comfort zone and practice the art of haggling.

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