In many foreign countries, haggling is expected and, as a result, consumers are skillful hagglers. In the U.S., most of us only haggle in a few situations such as when buying a house or a car.
The fact is that there are many more situations in which you can haggle for a lower price than you realize. For example, you may be able to successfully haggle for price discounts on furniture and electronics, and, if you shop at small, independently owned retail stores, you may be able to haggle on just about anything they sell, including clothing, shoes and jewelry.
Successful haggling is an art. If you want to give it a try, here are 10 tips to make it work for you.
1. Don’t be bashful. You won’t get an unadvertised discount without asking for it. Asking whether the merchant can do any better on the price can help you gauge relatively quickly whether you are wasting your time trying to haggle.
2. Be sure you are talking to someone with the power to haggle. For example, in an independently owned retail shop, you probably want to deal with the owner, and at a larger retailer, you may need to speak with the manager.
3. Be specific about what you want, whether it is 10% off the shelf price on a new television or free pillows and stain treatment with a sofa.
4. Offer a rationale for why you deserve a discount. For example, you might point out that you have been a good customer of the store for the past five years, that you spent $1,000 there last year or that the item you are interested in is last year’s model.
5. Make your offer worthwhile for the seller. For example, you might indicate that you will buy two sweaters rather than one if you get a discount or that you will pay with cash rather than using a credit card.
6. For best results, pick the right merchandise to haggle over and the right time to do it. You are less likely to get a discount on a new blouse in the latest style and color that just arrived in the store than on a jacket that has been on the rack for six weeks. At a jewelry store, you may have more leverage to haggle after Christmas or after Valentine’s Day when business is slow.
7. Be a good natured, friendly haggler. Belittling, bullying, demanding or threatening are not good haggling strategies. Neither is insulting the store, the merchant or the merchandise. Compliments, such as mentioning how much you’ve enjoyed shopping in the store over the past five years, is more likely to win points and discounts.
8. Be flexible. You may receive a counteroffer. Consider it carefully since any discount is better than none.
9. Take no for an answer graciously. Sometimes the price is the price.
10. If you are unsuccessful in haggling for a discount, ask if you can leave your name and number. It’s possible that if the merchandise doesn’t sell, the merchant may have second thoughts about your offer.