Bargain Your Way to a Bargain
In this recession, everything is negotiable.
I learned that lesson when I bargained to get a lower interest rate on my home refinance. And I put that knowledge to work recently while browsing the Eastern Market flea market for furniture with my husband. He eyed a small wooden cabinet that might look nice in our foyer and waved me over to look at it. The price tag was $150.
A saleswoman quickly descended. She could give us a special, low price of just $140, she said. I raised my eyebrows and made a big show of inspecting the cabinet. I thought about my mom, a master bargainer who once spent 12 hours at a car dealership negotiating the price. We were there so long that the dealer ordered us a pizza. What would she do in this situation?
I decided to counter: $120, I told her.
She laughed. She laughed so hard that she called over another salesman to tell him the story. Even my husband laughed at me -- until I shushed him for ruining my game. I smiled and told them that I was so glad that they were agreeing to $120 for the cabinet. No, no, they said, still laughing. $140.
I walked away, and they lost a sale.
According to Consumer Reports, walking away is one of the main weapons you have in your bargaining arsenal. At the end of the day, you have control over how and where you spend your money -- and retailers realize that. A recent survey by the magazine found that 66 percent of Americans have tried to negotiate for a better deal in the past six months.
Those who haggled had the best luck with hotel rates (83 percent successful), cell phone bills (81 percent) and clothing (81 percent). Salon's series Pinched chronicles one writer's attempts to bargain for a better deal at the dollar store (where, by the way, not everything is just one dollar).
I'll let you know what happens if/when I go back to that vendor at Eastern Market. But maybe the best thing I can do with my money is spend it elsewhere.
Here are some of Consumer Reports' tips for successful haggling:
Be patient and be nice. Demanding a discount rarely works. Savvy negotiators know that a smile is more difficult to resist than tough talk.
Time your haggle. Late in the month, when salespeople are trying to meet their quotas, can be a good time to bargain for big ticket items. Evening or early hours are usually less busy, so clerks have time to talk.
Avoid an audience. Haggle out of earshot of other customers. Sales clerks don’t want everyone else in the store asking for a deal too. Keep in mind that at chain stores, salespeople often don’t have the power to offer a discount. Try asking a manager or supervisor instead.
Know before you go. Research prices and store policies. Bring Web printouts, flyers, and newspaper ads with you. Mention if a local competitor is selling the item for less. The store might be willing to match your best quote. If you can’t get a price discount, ask for free shipping, delivery, or installation.
Be prepared to walk. The most persuasive weapon you have in your haggling arsenal is your ability to walk away and spend your money someplace else.
Posted by: aliraouf | May 21, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Yankeesfan1 | May 21, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: echuck67 | May 22, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: gettingdizzy1 | May 23, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Lindemann777 | May 27, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: ziggyzippy | May 27, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.