In many parts of Asia and Africa, haggling is part of the culture, with children learning how to do it by the time they reach five or six. Although haggling for food often is considered inappropriate, haggling for just about any good or service is expected.
Not so in the United States, where haggling is considered everything from cheap to bold to rude. And retailers are happy about that. But haggling does occur in the United States, and if you know how to do it, you can save hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars.
Here are nine tips to help you become a better haggler:
1. Start with this mindset: You have every right to haggle. There is nothing wrong with asking for a lower price on anything. And there is no reason to be embarrassed about it. When you ask for a discount, ask confidently, like there is no reason in the world why you shouldn’t receive it.
2. Get educated. Know what things should cost before you go shopping. Check the circulars and any other advertisements you can find that tells you the price of the item you want. Learn about profit margins. Some things, such as mattresses and jewelry, have big ones. Use that information to your advantage. Know when to buy things. There is a best time to buy just about anything.
3. Pay attention. The sweater you want has been sitting on the same table with the same price for two months. A book you want has a dust jacket with a slight tear. An outdoor statue you like was moved from the front of the garden center to the rear. These are all things you can bring up as a reason to get a lower price. But you won’t have that ammunition unless you bothered to notice.
4. Find the power broker. Only a select few in any store have the power to give you the unadvertised discount you want. Maybe it’s the assistant manager or the department manager. It’s almost never the 16-year-old cashier. Don’t waste your time haggling with people who can’t help you.
5. Be Nice. You know that cliché, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar?” It’s true. Jerks don’t get discounts. Be nice. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it might get you a discount. Good hagglers talk about the importance of the three P’s: polite, positive and patient.
6. Be discreet. Haggle in private, if possible, because the folks with the authority to lower the price for you don’t want to do it for others, if they can help it. For that reason, haggling in private increases your chance for success.
7. Use cash. Retailers, especially smaller ones, hate to pay transaction fees to credit card companies. These fees range from 2 percent to 8 percent. If you offer to pay with cash, store owners and managers know they won’t have to pay those fees and are more likely to agree to your request for a discount.
8. Ask about future markdowns. Find out when things you want will be marked down. Store employees usually are happy to give you that information, especially if you are nice to them. Sometimes, an employee who has the authority to do so will sell you something for the lower price a day or two before the sale starts. But, again, you have to ask.
9. Walk away. Be prepared to leave empty-handed. The best hagglers never overpay for anything. They rarely shop out of need. So, if the price isn’t right, they just leave. Sometimes, at a car dealership, for example, the salesman or sales manager, will chase after you or call you the next day and give you the deal you wanted, or an even better one.
Photo Credit: markhillary