Haggling comes down to three basic things: being nice, having information, and getting up the nerve to ask for a discount.
1. I have no scientific evidence, but I find being friendly gives me a greater chance of getting a discount than not. After all, no one wants to help a jerk. Explain your situation – no matter how aggravating – with a smile. This gives the impression you are asking for help, not blaming them. Being friendly gets them on your side and willing to work with you. Being a jerk makes them fight against you. Say things like:
- “You can understand how frustrated I am”
- “I’m a loyal customer, is there anything you can do to help me?”
- “I always pay my bill on time. What can we do about this late fee/charge?”
- “I have gotten great service from –company name– so this is really unusual”
- “I’d like to keep doing business with you, but…”
- “Can you work with me?”
2. Be informed. Do your homework before you ask for a discount…… Bring a flyer or print out pricing info from the rival company’s Web site to show to the salesman. But don’t let a lack of paperwork stop you. Look for factors that may convince them to work with you, like if there is inventory sitting around, minor damages, if you are asking for service during off-peak hours/days, if you are flexible about when you need the product or service, and if you are making a bulk purchase. I once negotiated a discounted price for pizza slices when there was no other food around simply by pointing out it was late in the day and they had a ton of pizza to be sold. Say things like:
- “I was at –name of rival store– and they have a deal for…”
- “I’ve looked around at prices and…”
- “I noticed this has not sold in 6 weeks. I can take it off your hands if you are able to sell it at a discount.”
- “This item is damaged slightly. Would you be able to shave 20% off the price?”
- “Another store has a better price but I like to shop here. Can you work with me?”
- “I’d really like to buy this item but it’s a bit above my budget.”
3. Just ask. If you don’t ask, you won’t get a discount. The more you ask the easier it gets, so start trying. Keep the discussion friendly and leave the door open to make the purchase at the original price so if you get turned down you don’t feel the need to stalk off. I have been turned down many times, but I have also gotten discounts where I never expected to succeed. So try it!
Extra tips that will help you become an ace haggler:
- Use your body language to persuade the merchant that you are willing to walk away, which sends the message that s/he needs to sweeten the deal to make a sale. Do this by setting down the item under discussion while you are haggling. If you hold onto it, it sends the message that you really want to take it home with you.
- Walk away from a deal after thanking the merchant for his final offer. Come back in a week or two to see if they are in a better position to work with you.
- Offer to pay in cash.
- Be discreet. A merchant might not want other customers to know s/he is giving you a discount.
- Improve your chances by negotiating at a slow time, when the merchant or salesperson has time to talk to you.