Haggling: an ugly word for a beautiful concept

14 April 2009

http://img5.imageshack.us/img5/4518/s1873173962161652.jpgDoes 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.


  • Ben
    Any tips on how to haggle when getting a new mobile contract?
  • acecatcher3
    i did my first ever bit of haggling with my iphone purchase, didnt get the phone any cheaper or the contract lowered but i got a free case so its a start!! lool!! its defo a skill, u have to be quite confident when speaking i think, ive been in shops before where ppl were trying to haggle, they get quite aggressive over it, that end of month thing because of commission is a good tip i hadnt thought of that thanks!
  • The B.
    "trying to knock a few cents off the price of a rib roast?" You what? Why on earth would you want to knock a few cents off? Surely the butcher would have to convert back to Sterling to work out how much you'd saved? You'd be better off just asking for a couple of pence back, especially when you take into to consideration the they'd probably round down.
  • The B.
    that they'd probably round down.
  • Pipster72
    As a employee of a food retail business i'd just like to point out that if you are going to walk out because i won't give you the product half price because i'm not allowed to (yes its buy one get one free, yes there's only one left, yes i'll get disciplined for an 'unneccesary reduction') please don't be a twat about it and dump all your shopping for me to have to put back. Haggling is fine on a dented tin, if you haven't been spotted smacking it about yourself of course.... but don't have a hissy fit if you don't get your own way, cheers ;)
  • acecatcher3
    ^^ reminded me of scene in big daddy when hes in the supermarket and teaching the kid that if he smashed the tins and dents them, they get them reduced...great film that
  • Anna
    Well written article, thanks for the read. :)
  • Liverpool96
    I work in retail, selling bigger goods like TVs Laptops Whitegoods etc .. and Nothing you say will get me to give you discount, i get 10% and thats my advantage for working full time in the shit hole for £700 a month, So why the helll would you be entitled to discount? I dont get comision, so if you walk away, im not botherd, if you buy from me, im not botherd. The only time you are likely to get discount is if you are buying a few things, for example; A TV with the insurance and a TV cabinet and leads for it, in the case the lead might get thrown in free, or some screen cleaner, to expect anything more is arogant. Its not the sales person geting your money remember, so dont take it so personal when they wont give you discount, they arent trying to get more money in their pocket, they are trying to keep their job - as discount un-nceciseraly will get them sacked. Somebody wanted me to sell them a TV for £800 because thats how much it was on t'internet, and in store it was £1099 .. No chance, just buy it online dick head!
  • Honky S.
    Liverpool96 - Fuck Off back to Dixons you miserable cunt
  • DoYouHaveACanoe
    wow... Honky Tonk... rage much? o.O As for liverpool69, yeah... even i know that most hardware like laptops and printers made sod all profit for a large company. but cables and cartidges defiantely usually have when bought with deals coz they make so much more margin. Not being commision based = win.
  • Liverpool96
    Honky Tonk .. What do you do for a living so i can come and get stuff free for no reason? can i ask when the last was that you loaded your trolley onto a belt at asda and asked the cashier for discount..
  • DoYouHaveACanoe
    Thats a good point... I bought my computer for shy of £1k about 4 years ago, I must spend easily £100 a month on standard groceries and over the same 4 years thats close to £5k. I wonder how much profit was made when I brought my computer compared to how much the supermarkets make on my groceries? Anyone have any tips of haggling at a supermarket ;) ?
  • Liverpool96
    The only reason for any1 to give discount .. ever .. is if they work on commision and their commision is based on locking the sale down, and if discount is needed to do that, so be it. I dont see any reason to discount, thats why there are marked prices on the product, and whilst we're at it .. the price on a product is an invitation to buy, so when u ask us to knock £50 off .. we could decide to add £50 to it instead .. how do you like those apples bitch? I wish i could get discount at Asda .. or ask the lady at the till point in Boots if i buy two tins of deoderant can i have discount, even though it was my own personal choice to pick something that wasnt on offer!
  • Vince W.
    @Anna thanks for reading :) @doyouhaveacanoe - we'll work on something on supermarket haggling. If anyone has any tips or tricks they use please send them along to us: [email protected] and we'll include the best!

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