Haggling has almost become a dirty word, but you shouldn’t feel cheap for trying to get the best price on the products you want to buy. If you’re looking to save a few extra dollars on that pay TV subscription, piece of furniture or even your rent, learning the art of negotiation is the perfect way to keep your bank account looking healthy.
Over the years, I’ve spent plenty of time working in retail stores as an assistant, selling all sorts of things – from video games to fridges, kettles to power banks and as many lightning cables as there are stars in the sky (take care of your cables, please). So when it comes to haggling, I've had a lot of experience on both sides of the register.
If you’re trying to negotiate a better price, here’s some Do’s and Don’ts:
DO: Maintain a friendly attitude
This is easily the biggest take home on this list. If you’re hunting for a bargain then the absolute best thing you can do is approach salespeople with kindness. In fact, you can almost smother them with kindness. A salesperson may serve hundreds of people per day and not all of them are Sunshine and Rainbows. So start off friendly, treat them like a human being and make them feel like they’re genuinely helping you out.
From the top down - what kind of retailer are you walking in to? Is it online? Is it a clothing store? Some stores will be more receptive to haggling than others. Then, you need to know the price range you’re dealing with and the best way to do that is to research the product itself online and in other stores. If it is retailing for $899 at the manufacturer’s website, there’s a strong chance it’s $799 at retail and even cheaper online. If you go in with a price range in mind, you can set your upper and lower limits and haggle for a better price between those. Don't forget that almost every retailer is price matching these days.
DO: Look for value
If a product is damaged or has been sitting on the show floor for a long time, then it’s value will decrease. If saving a few dollars is your thing, it’s worth looking at damaged or display stock. Haggling for these items is a much easier task, with salespeople more than willing to give up older stock at bargain prices.
DO: Pick your battles
If you’re willing to haggle over products with very low mark-up, you’re gonna have a tough time saving any cash. Haggling works far better on big ticket items because they’ve got much bigger margins in their price. However, if you’re bundling everything together in one transaction, it’s always good to ask how much you can get the lot for.
DO: Have fun
If you approach the situation as a conversation, rather than some sort of dispute you have to win, you can enjoy it more and so can the salesperson. Throwing out outlandish prices can be funny, but don’t ever say “wow, there’s no price tag on this… it must be free!” – trust me, salespeople have heard that 1000 times and 999 of those times they didn’t laugh.
DON'T: Be afraid to walk away
It’s totally okay to haggle and come away unsatisfied. That’s part of the process! If you know that you can get a better price elsewhere, let the salesperson know that – it might even change their mind. If you can’t, but the price is still too high, make it known that you are going to look elsewhere or that you need time to think about it.
DON'T: Say "You Will Give Me A Discount"
Literally never say these words. If you’re trying to haggle, this is the wrong way to kick off the conversation. It’s okay to be confident, but overconfidence is ugly and can come off overtly aggressive. Directly asking for a discount can be good and it’s important to stay firm, but it’s not a good idea to approach haggling with a question, rather than definitive statements.
DON'T: Say "I always shop here"
This is an interesting one. Historically, getting repeat customers is critical to the growth and prosperity of a business but these days, this is harder to accept. Bigger retail chains still want to attract repeat customers, but lines like this aren’t quite as useful as a haggling tool. It comes off too cliché and a little dishonest. I mean, I always shop at fast food places, but that doesn’t mean I get my cheeseburger any cheaper.
DON'T: Be a dick
Really this should apply in all facets of life, but it’s particularly important when you want something that someone else has. Sellers are not going to smile kindly on you or your wallet if you begin a conversation in anger or desperation. Yes, you may have been waiting for a salesperson for 5 minutes, but that doesn’t entitle you to a discount. Air those grievances politely, let them know you waited patiently and are thankful they came and helped and they’re far more likely to help you out when it comes to handing over cash.
Remember, the seller wants to make as much money as they can and the buyer wants to save as much money as they can. Transactions aren’t always balanced – in the game of haggling, you either win or you walk away – but if you remember to always be respectful, do your research and avoid confrontation then your wallet, and the salesperson, will thank you.
Do you have any haggling tips that helps drive the price down? What are your haggling strategies? Share them below!