Haggling: an ugly word for a beautiful concept
Does haggling embarrass you? Does it make you think of that post-menopausal death crone who yells at the butcher, trying to knock a few cents off the price of a rib roast? We've all been there.
But haggling is a very valuable skill to have, particularly in a shaky economy. Here are a few tips for successful haggling without getting your knickers in a twist to keeping sales associates take you seriously:
1. Where to haggle: Know where you can haggle, and where you can’t. Generally, the more expensive the item, the more likely haggling will work: things like laptop computers, top-end televisions, or jewellery. Is it really worth your time to haggle the price of a pair of socks down by 50p? Save your breath.
2. When to haggle: Knowing when to haggle is an advantage. With high-end electronics, the last couple of days of the month are your best opportunity, particularly in stores where sales staff works on commission. If you happen to know when their pay period ends, so much the better, because they’ll want to maximize the pay packet they’re about to get.
3. DAFS (Do a f--king search): Researching prices beforehand is important. There’s no reason not to do this. The world is awash in advertising, and the Internet is full of sites that will compare prices for you. A quick look around could give you the extra reference price you can use when emailing that eBay or Gumtree seller, too.
4. Walk away: Perhaps the most important “tool” you have is the ability to walk away if the sales person won’t meet your price. This is truly put to the test when you go somewhere like Shenzhen, China, where it's actually normal practice. In other words, if you jump right into haggling on something you’ve been dying to get your hands on, it's a dead giveaway that you want it. Walking away is at least a dignified ending to an unsuccessful haggling session. Making an ugly scene is not.
5. Cialdini Counteroffers: Know how much you’re willing to pay for an item, and make your first counteroffer to what the salesperson quotes a little lower than that. That way, you have room to give a little and still get the price you want. And if they agree to your first counteroffer, think how chuffed you’ll be.
6. Alternatives: Consider concessions other than a price break. Get them to throw in the laptop case with that new computer. Maybe they’ll give you the earrings since you are dropping an entire pay packet on the necklace. That sort of thing.
7. Be reasonable: Don’t become enraged if you can’t get the price you want. For one thing, sales associates are people too, and for another, they’ll get security to escort you from the store and then gleefully watch the security tape of it at the company party.
Finally, be realistic. If it’s something you can’t afford anyway, then maybe you shouldn’t try to get the salesperson to meet your unreasonable offer. As Lewis Carroll once said, "It's very rude of him...To come and spoil the fun!” So if you haggle with a vendor and agree on a price, buy it. Don’t waste ten minutes of your time and theirs only to change your mind when it’s over. Otherwise, your outcome may vary. Depending on your martial arts training.