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Consumer with Tina Leonard - Haggling

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Is it acceptable? Where can I do it? These are the questions most often asked when the subject of haggling comes up. And the answers: To the first it's an emphatic YES. To the second the answer is wherever you care to try, but there are some types of shops and some situations where it's easier than others.

When can I haggle?
In electrical stores, DIY stores, furniture stores and increasingly when buying cars or hotel accommodation, haggling is generally accepted so you should try it. For example friends who had nothing planned for New Year's Eve checked online for hotel prices and they all seemed pretty high. So they called the hotel directly to see what offer they could get, especially as it was a last minute booking. They ended up in a posh hotel for New Years Eve at a fraction of the advertised price. Recently I bought a television in an electrical store and asked for a discount. The sales person simply asked his manager and came back with an offer. Same thing happened when I bought a new light last week and secured a 25% discount. It was very easy, totally accepted and hassle free.

Having said that a friend recently asked for a discount in a department store but was greeted with surprise and a definite no. Likewise, another friend tried it in another department store when buying shoes, but with the fuss of having to call a manager etc. she gave up.

You should also remember to haggle when renewing any services such as car insurance policies and even your telephone contract. In these instances be sure to quote your provider a cheaper offer you received and ask if they can do better in order for you to keep your custom with them.

How do I haggle?
1. Always be polite and courteous and be jovial when haggling. The sales person is not the enemy! It's simply a business transaction where the shop is offering to sell you something at one price and you're making a counter offer looking for a better deal.

2. Don't be unreasonable and suggest a massive discount that isn't feasible. Remember this is a business deal, not a joke and the retailer does have to make a living too.

3. Use positive language and not weak statements like "could you knock-off more". You're not after a "no" answer but a friendly dialogue. You could ask "how much are you going to knock off the price for me?" You could also say things like "I really like this item and I like this store, in fact I come here a lot, but I wasn't planning on paying that much".

4. If you've seen a better price in another store, say so. This means that if you've done some research on other prices in other shops it can work to your advantage, as the shop may be willing to either match the price or do better.

5. If you're getting nowhere with a discount ask for something else to be thrown in such as a laptop case or camera bag.

6. When buying a high-ticket item or a lot of products in one shop, you have more bargaining power. Say that you want to give them your business but are looking for a better deal. Know how much you want to pay and name a lower price so you have room to counter if the sales person comes back with a weak offer. If you can pay with cash, use this as a bargaining tool. If buying a car, quote prices you've seen for the same model in the North but say you want to keep your money in the South. If buying lots of items in a baby shop for a new arrival, for example, tell them you intend on making lots of purchases there in the future and will recommend the shop to your friends for their good service.

7. Walking away when you actually want to buy the item, in the hope you'll get a better deal doesn't always work, so balance how much you are willing to pay with how much you want the item.

8. Don't get emotional and NEVER loose your cool. Do be confident and relaxed and enjoy the process.