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How to Haggle: More Tips on Haggling

Written by Nickel - 9 Comments

Since we’ve been on the subject of haggling for a better deal, I thought I’d highlight some lessons from an old article that I recently ran across. As much as you might hate haggling, you can save a great deal of money by doing it.

For starters, approach it from the right perspective:

“People equate negotiating with arguing,” says Roger Fisher, director of the Harvard Negotiation Project and author of Getting to Yes. “But if you view it as a discussion of joint interests, you’ll be more likely to put fair terms on the table and find common ground.”

Next, try one or more of these five magic lines:

  • “Hmmm, I don’t know…” Indecision and silence are your friend. Let them know that you’re on the fence and you might just get a better deal.
  • “Help me spend my money here.” Big ticket prices are almost always negotiable — if you’re talking to the right person. Find that person and ask.
  • “Your rivals can do it for less.” Use their competition against them. If their competitors can afford to charge you less, then so can they.
  • “I feel like I was tricked.” If you’ve been misled in any way, use it to your advantage. Doing so can only improve your leverage.
  • “But you broke your promise.” Always be sure to hold to hold them to whatever promises they’ve made during your negotiations.

Or you could just fall back on one of my personal favorites:

“Is that the best you can do?”

Try it sometime. Say those seven words, and then just wait. As awkward as the resulting silence might seem, it’s even more uncomfortable for your adversary. The ball is now in their court, and nothing more will happen until they respond.

And one final tip… If you’re negotiating a major purchase, you might want to take a few notes during the course of your discussion. Doing so will not only help keep you from getting flustered, but it will also gives you something to fall back on if the final details don’t match what you talked about.

Source: Reader’s Digest

Published on May 4th, 2009 - 9 Comments
Filed under: Frugality

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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9 Responses to “How to Haggle: More Tips on Haggling”

  1. 1
    DebtGoal Says:

    If there’s one challenge to be overcome when haggling, it’s getting the seller/vendor to be willing to haggle over pricing. I’ve tested haggling in shopping areas many times, and in numerous cases in which the seller would have been financially better off from negotiating, they opt to not sell at a price lower than the one at which the product or service is listed. This can be due to a number of factors, including: restrictions from their corporate headquarters, franchising rules, or product supplier stipulations; fear of being taken advantage of due to ignorance of the negotiation process, skills, and tactics; and an erroneous belief that every shopper that attempts to haggle with them and fails will ultimately just buy the product from the store at the list price anyways.

  2. 2
    BenC Says:

    I echo the “Is this the best you can do?” line. I’m about as introverted as you can get, but I was able to save $70 on a new microwave at Best Buy. I originally asked if the price was the best she could do on one microwave and she said it was already on sale ($159). So I was disappointed but ok with it.
    However, she pointed me to a different one that was an open box. It was discounted to $180, just $20 over the price of the one I was interested in. However she said they have some *new* ones in the back that she would sell to me at the open box price. If I had bought it new, it would have cost $250. I bought it for $180 which was only $20 more than the one I was originally interested in and it wasn’t as nice. SCORE!

  3. 3
    Kev Says:

    The rewards reaped from haggling don’t have to come in the form of cash.

    I’ve found it easier to haggle for products and services than cash discounts. I have a feeling this is the case b/c accessory items and services have a higher percentage of mark-up. So, retailers are not “out” as much by throwing them in with a larger purchase.

    The last time I purchased a television from Best Buy I got them to throw in some high quality component cables for free. I also got them to throw in a free protective case when I bought my iPod.

    Another haggling opportunity that is commonly missed is when you’re purchasing an automobile. Get the deal you want and then shoot for some free services as well (if the dealership has a service center). The last time I purchased a car I got the dealership to throw in my first three oil changes. Car dealers are an easy one since you are already in “haggling” mode. I usually go for oil changes, gas cards, or detailing packages. Just remember to wait until after the price has already been negotiated.

  4. 4
    craig Says:

    Like you mention with big purchases, there are always places that you can haggle. If you can buy it in full in cash right away you can usually haggle even more.

  5. 5
    Kristy @ Master Your Card Says:

    Ugh! I hate haggling, which is ironic because I do enjoy a rousing good discussion. But, haggling is mostly a fear of being perceived as cheap, which is again ironic because about 98% of the time, I don’t really care what people think of me. At any rate, I do like the line “Is this the best you can do.” It’s easy enough to say, so I may have to try it the next time I go looking for a big-ticket item.

    I don’t really think haggling is that effective on smaller stuff, though. I mean, haggling with sellers on Craigslist is one thing. But, I walked into a perfume store and found my favorite bottle grossly overpriced. I asked to have it reduced, stating that other vendors sell it much cheaper. They refused and I left. Simple as that. But, the point is, the smaller items are harder to haggle on.

  6. 6
    jim Says:

    Pausing/stalling is the best trick in the book. Salespersons want you to buy right this second because they know the moment you walk away the probability of a sale drops dramatically.

  7. 7
    Master Allan Says:

    I’m very surprised but encouraged reading responses that haggling has worked. Many years ago while in college I worked up to a coveted position in the local Target stores’ electronics department. While I was passionate about the job, amusing myself with big sales, and providing good service & advice, making each and every sale was not a high priority. At the end of the day I made $7.75 / hour regardless of a few people looking for an amazing bargain.
    Of course if the item was damaged or an open box I could easily be convinced to knock off 15% – 33%. But if was generally unheard of to hit “price change” on the register and type in another dollar value. A few of those in a month will have someone from assets protection calling you into their office.
    Any thoughts? Has anyone been really successful at Walmart/Target with getting a lower price or special deal with a regular staff member?

  8. 8
    George Says:

    no experience at Walmart/|Target, but Kohl’s is very good about it…they usually will knock off 15% just by asking nice….and they have those coupons out all the time, anyway. Also, just had it happen at Best Buy the other day, too. The product I wanted to buy was on the shelf – one box was a little dented, the other was not. I asked the clerk if they would give me a discount if I bought the one in the dented box, otherwise I would buy the other one. Right away, 20% off. Easy decision.

  9. 9
    Phinance Says:

    Always throw out the “I can get it cheaper online” argument. They might counter with shipping back damaged merchandise, you can’t see it in person, etc., but at least it gets them talking about it. I don’t really like haggling, but I will research online to see what the best prices are. Brick and mortar stores despise online shopping.

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