In Britain we are notoriously poor at haggling. Yet if you always pay the advertised price, you are leaving thousands of pounds on the table. That is money that could potentially be used for many better purposes 🙂
Haggling (or bargaining if you like) is definitely not something to be reserved for souks and bazaars. It can work very well on the high street too.
Money-saving expert Martin Lewis recently conducted a survey on his Moneysaving Expert website and found that hagglers enjoyed over 60% success rates in some big-name stores. His top ten list with success rates for hagglers is as follows:
1. Carphone Warehouse – 77%
2. TK Maxx – 74%
3. John Lewis – 72%
4. Homebase – 68%
5. Tesco – 62%
6. B&Q – 60%
7. Currys/PC World – 59%
8. Debenhams – 55%
9. Clarks – 47%
10. Marks & Spencer – 39%
Those surprisingly high figures show that it is well worth trying for a discount. If you can get over your natural reticence, you may surprise yourself with the deals you are offered. In any event, it costs nothing to try!
Here are some top tips to get you started.
Tips for Haggling
- Research your proposed purchase carefully beforehand. Find out as much as you can, including how much similar items are selling for at other stores and online. You can use shopping engines such as Kelkoo to compare prices on a wide range of consumer goods.
- Have a maximum target price for your purchase and approach the haggle with this in mind. Be prepared to walk away if you don’t get the price you want. You can always try elsewhere.
- Go at a quiet time rather than when a store is heaving with customers. A salesperson will be less inclined to spend time negotiating with you if they can see that there are lots of other willing buyers in the shop. Mid-morning on a weekday can be good.
- Choose the right person to haggle with. The best is a supervisor or assistant manager, as they will have more discretion. The “big boss” may not be as good, though. He or she will be pressed for time and may not be so bothered about a single sale.
- Take your time and try to build rapport. Don’t even talk about price for the first five minutes. Ask the salesperson a few questions to show you are genuinely interested in buying, and explain why you need the product in question. Tell them your name, and ask for theirs.
- Never be aggressive when haggling. This will simply put the salesperson’s back up and make getting a deal less likely. A successful haggle is a bit like a seduction. It’s best done with a twinkle in the eye!
- Look for flaws on items that may make them difficult to sell – a small dent on the side of a fridge, for example, or a mark (somewhere inconspicuous) on clothing. Even if you’re not a seasoned haggler, this is an easy opportunity to get money off.
- Keep an eye out for items with prices ending with a 1, 7 or 8 (e.g. £72.08). These prices are generally applied to end-of-range products the store wants to get rid of, to make room for new stock. You should be able to get an extra discount on them without any problem.
- Stock phrases can be useful if you’re nervous about haggling. “What’s the best price you can do on this?” is one popular option. “I like this but it’s over my budget. Can you do it for £80?” (or whatever is your target price) is another.
- Haggling can work particularly well in independent stores. In such cases you will often be dealing with the owner, who clearly has more leeway than a sales assistant. If you give the impression you may become a regular customer, he/she is much more likely to cut you a deal.
- But if you can’t get a discount, at least see if they will throw in something for free. If you’re buying a laptop, for example, ask if they will give you a wireless keyboard as well. It’s worth spending a little time beforehand looking round the store to see if there is a particular extra you would like.
Although above I have referred mainly to haggling in stores, there are also opportunities to haggle on the internet.
One of the best is by using the “live chat” facility offered by many online stores. Don’t go straight in with a request for a discount, but ask a few questions first. You’re unlikely to get a massive saving this way, but you might be offered 10% off or a free bonus.
Another ploy worth trying when shopping online is the “abandoned shopping cart” trick. Put the product you want in your basket and proceed as far as the checkout, then simply close the page. The retailer will see what has happened and rather than lose the sale may get back to you with an offer or discount code.
Good luck with your haggling. Do leave a comment if you have any other tips to share or examples of successful haggles you have concluded yourself.