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Not everyone in the world can afford everything they want. Thankfully, prices aren't always set in stone. Whether you're dealing
with a salesperson, customer service representative, or street vendor, try haggling. What've you got to lose?
- Stop caring what people think of you. Many people hesitate to haggle because they don't want to seem cheap
or argumentative. But are you really willing to pay top dollar just so you can preserve the esteem of total strangers? You're
only meeting them this once, and you'll probably never meet them again. Even if you're shopping with people you know, they
might raise an eyebrow when you start haggling, but they'll sure be jealous when you get a better price than they did! And
yes, there are some situations in which haggling just isn't appropriate, like at a church tag sale, lemonade stands,
or when you're buying from someone you know relatively well. Otherwise, just swallow your fear of how you'll be perceived
and jump right in. A great motto to keep in mind while you haggle: If you don't throw the basketball, you won't know if you'll
- Pick your battles wisely. Know what stores will haggle and which products to haggle on. Don't waste fifteen
minutes of haggling over one dollar, or else you could easily spend a whole hour of shopping time just saving a measly four
dollars! And if you don't choose the right place to haggle, you'll save zero dollars. It's usually easier to haggle in a mom-and-pop
store, while many department stores have firm policies that set the prices (although stores where the salespeople are working
on commission are fair game). Don't mess with restaurants, grocery stores, bus depots,
and the like. Also, while nearly everything is negotiable, items such as jewelry, electronics,
and furniture lend themselves especially to haggling. Likewise, hotel and car rental rates and other services are usually
open for negotiation.
- Do your research. Depending on the kind of product you're haggling over, sometimes you can do some preliminary
"homework" by searching the Internet
and finding lower prices for the item you want. You can later use that price as a starting point. For extra ammunition, print
out the product description and price to show it to the vendor or salesperson if they call your bluff. Make sure you know
the website address in case they want to check it out for themselves. Even if you find similar items at a good price,
you can always show it to the seller and say "Do you have anything like this for the same price?"
- If you're dealing with expensive and complex items (like electronic and jewelry) be sure to examine the details. The
seller will quickly try to dismiss it by saying "Oh, but their product has feature A, which is inferior to feature B on our
product." Depending on your research, you might say "Yes, you're right, but feature A is all I want, need, and am willing
to pay for" or "While feature B might be considered superior by most, feature A is actually more appropriate for my particular
- Set your standards. Determine what price you consider to be a great deal, a good deal, a mediocre deal, and
no deal. When you begin to negotiate, you'll start with your "great deal" price and the seller will probably offer the "mediocre
deal". Your goal is to haggle your way to a good deal--the closer to your "great deal" price, the better. For instance, after
doing your research on appliances with the features you're looking for, you might say:
- $800 is the average price. No deal.
- $720 would be a mediocre deal.
- $675 is a good deal.
- $640 is a great deal.
- Bring cash. A lot of times, offering cash upfront will entice a retailer to meet your price. Split your cash
in increments so that you can show the seller the money you're offering without them seeing how much more money you
have sitting in your wallet. For example, if you know you want to buy an item for $100, pack $80 in your wallet and $20 in
your pocket (or perhaps in your accomplice's pocket, who will "lend" you the money later). When you're face to face with the
seller, pull out your wallet and say "Look, I've got $80 here and I'd really like to walk away with this item today. What
do you say?" If they resist, you can pretend to search for any additional cash, or ask your accomplice if you can borrow some
cash, then present that extra $20 and say "OK, $100 is all I've got. Do we have a deal?"
- Browse the sale items. Retailers want to move sale items out to make room for the new, eye-catching products,
so they might be more inclined to reduce the price further to get them out of the store.
- Show hesitation about buying the product. Even if it's the perfect item, the moment the seller sees
that wistful look in your eyes, they'll know they've got the upper hand. Appear interested, as if you're willing to buy the
product if the price is right, but you can certainly live without it as well. When the seller tells you the price, say "Hmmmm....I
- Use silence to your advantage. A long, awkward silence is likely to work in your favor. While you stand there as if
you're wavering on the fence, the seller will probably get nervous and drop the price a little further, or throw in an extra.
- Talk about what you don't like about the item, or emphasize its shortcomings. If it's a ring, for example, scrutinize
it on your hand and say "I don't know if it's exactly my style...". If it's a computer, ask "Does this come with a wireless
keyboard?" At the same time, be respectful. You could easily offend the seller by pointing
out or criticizing points of taste. Point out issues of workmanship or wear.
- Examine the item for any chips, scratches or flaws. Even in major retailers, they will often give you a "open box"
or "display" item price if you notice a cosmetic imperfection. Check the back and bring to their attention the smallest flaw.
This is especially useful when you are looking to buy the last one of something. Also make sure you really want the item because
often, these discounts make the sale final.
- Pretend to consult with a reluctant partner. When the seller makes an offer that is almost what you
want, look distressed and say "Oh, OK. Well, let me ask my husband/wife/mother/father. I've been dying to get one of these
for months now, but they keep saying it's too expensive." If you have a cell phone, pull it out and call your partner in crime,
or even fake the call if you have
to: "Yes, but it's what I've been looking for and it's a good price...I don't know...OK...Yes, fine..." End your call, turn
to the seller, and say "I can buy it for..." giving a price that is slightly below what they've offered. If they're
resistant, remind them that this is the price your shopping partner agreed to and it's the best you can do.
- Ask for freebies. If the salesperson is not willing to bring the price down, ask for other freebies, such
as coupons to use at a later date or other items he might be willing to throw in. Remember, haggling is not just about the
price - it's about walking away satisfied.
- Be prepared to walk away Haggling is all about knowing how long to stick it out to be satisfied and when you
need to walk away to look somewhere else for a better price. Don't be afraid to walk out of the store. Often, the salesperson
will call you back into the store, telling you they'll give you a better price or deal.
- If all you can get is a mediocre deal, ask the seller how long they can hold that price for you. Tell them you're
going to shop around, and then go to other sellers and tell them what the first seller offered. Keep shopping around until
you find a good deal. Then, you can either continue negotiating with that seller, or go for another round of shopping and
tell each seller about the good deal you've been offered. A good way to approach such negotiation is to say "Listen, I've
been coming here for years, and I'd really like to spend my dollars here. I know you need to make a profit, but if (your competitor)
is offering it for less and still turning a profit, I'm sure you can, too."
- Accept the offer when the price is right. If you said you'd buy it for $100 and they offer it to you for $100,
don't be tempted to negotiate further. No one wants their time wasted so if you find yourself in a lengthy negotiation and
you get the price you asked for, buy it as soon as possible.
- Check your receipt. When you've closed the deal, watch carefully at the register. Read everything you sign.
You never know when a seller might sneak in a higher interest rate or an extra fee and blame it on the fine print. If the
final price turns out to be significantly higher than what you negotiated, take it up with the seller: "This isn't what we
A video with good tips on how to haggle.
- Be polite and calm. Never whine or beg when negotiating for a bargain. A simple approach works best for haggling.
Simply ask the salesperson if he or she can "work with you" on the price. You can also ask the clerk if there is a manager
or supervisor to appeal to. Smile and be friendly.
- You don't have to dress in a formal suit to haggle, but your clothes should show the salesperson you can afford the
item you're haggling over.
- Remember, never ever be embarrassed! Chances are, the people you meet in line might be inspired to do the same as
well in their next shopping trip.
- If you are haggling in a particular shop where the sales person's first language is not English, it may be easier
to get a good deal if you haggle in their native language.
- Some things have firm prices. These may be set by a company overseas, and these prices will not be negotiable. However,
you may be able to get a bigger discount on something else if you purchase a non "price-fixed" item at the same time as the
one with the firm price.
- If you are prepared to pay for a service (automotive repair, yard work, etc.) in cash, wait until they give you a
price and follow up with the question, "How much if I pay you in cash?" Don't offer the cash option up front, instead wait
until they quote a price and then come back with the cash question. Almost all repairmen and service workers get some
kind of cut and also know how much their boss expects. Ask this discretely and only ask the person who will be doing the work.
Don't try this over the phone or with someone working the front desk. This really works better on locally owned and operated
- If you are selling something, always remember to make the prices slightly higher than what you think is fair, so
if someone haggles with you, you might get the price you wanted.
- Do not act condescending or try to bully, belittle, or intimidate the seller into lowering his/her price. Yes, you're
both trying to gain an advantage, but the best deal is one where you save money and they make money. In that sense, you're
working together to find the right balance.
- Some stores will simply not allow haggling, no matter how much you want it. Don't try to haggle for everything, that's
just being cheap.
- Sometimes asking for and getting a discount on an item at a major retailer may make the sale final. They won't
take back, exchange, or refund the item. You'll probably be stuck with it so make sure you really want it.
Sources and Citations
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