Haggling For Bargains

Please consider the idea of haggling: a buyer negotiating with a seller to get a lower price. It sounds like a great way to save money. Why am I not doing it?

I believe that like other consumers, haggling just isn’t on my radar:

  • I pay what I see on the price tag without question.
  • My first notion of haggling reminds me of buying a vehicle. Yuck!
  • I am uncomfortable asking for a discount.
  • Finally, it simply hasn’t occurred to me to apply haggling to non-big ticket items.

I love the idea of haggling, but I am way out of my comfort zone. My reluctance to ruffle feathers is one of the reasons – according to some financial experts – that many women often pay more for goods and services than men do.

In addition, I don’t have a lot of experience with haggling. My experiences are limited to negotiating for goods in a street market in Mexico and bargaining for a futon at a garage sale. That’s it. I have a lot to learn. On the other hand, the present financial climate seems like a perfect time to start. There’s plenty of inventory that sellers need to move, so why not ask for a bargain?

Bowing to experience, I asked friends and family about their haggling encounters.

Research: One friend needed a good office chair. She sits for long hours editing manuscripts and needs something with lots of support. After researching on the Internet, she had created a list of several chairs she wanted to try. She took her research to the field, visited stores and sat in many chairs.

Finally, she found the chair she wanted at a big office supply store. She had an ace in her pocket because she knew the online price was cheaper than the store’s price. So she offered to pay the online price, which was 20% less. After a bit of hemming and hawing, the salesperson agreed to let the chair go for the online price. My friend was amazed. “I thought, ‘why not?’ and made the offer – and it worked!”

Walk away: My husband’s buddy needed a truck to pull his boat. Like my friend, he had done his research and found what he wanted to buy. He had even researched a fair offer. He was ready to go shopping.

Our town as three car dealer empires, and he prepared to visit every one. The first dealer had the truck he wanted but not at a price he wanted to pay. After a few hours of negotiating, the dealer would not come down to our friend’s price – so he walked out.

He went straight to the next dealership on his list and found same truck. He negotiated again and finally this dealer accepted his offer. His willingness to walk away from the first dealer saved him several thousand dollars.

Our friend had to admit he laughed when the first dealer called the next morning and asked if he was willing to come in and talk about the truck again. Our friend said, “Sorry, but your competitor took the same offer I gave you. That sale could have been yours.”

Insist: My parents did a great job buying their present house, and I was able to be there for much of the process. After months of looking, my parents finally found a house they wanted and were ready to negotiate the price.

After the initial offer from my parents, the counteroffer came. It was too high for mom and dad and – although their real estate agent said they should take it – my parents insisted on making another offer for not much more than the first. The agent grudgingly presented the second offer and later admitted he was surprised when it was accepted. My mother told me, “I was sure our offer was fair and I wasn’t about to pay a penny more. I would have kept looking for another house.” Their insistence on making another offer saved then $15,000.

Stay nice: Above all, my friends and family emphasized that they had stayed calm and pleasant through the process. Money can be an emotional thing – especially when a lot of it is at stake. They didn’t take the counter-haggling from the salespeople personally, but realized that was part of the process.

I’ll admit I was disappointed that no one I talked to had haggled over groceries. They are a big expense for my family and it would be great to save even more. I will have to try that on my own. However, my back tells me we will soon be in the market for another mattress. I will definitely apply what I have learned from my friends and family and see if I can’t come home with a great mattress that helps my budget sleep well at night too.

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2 Responses to Haggling For Bargains

  1. Susan says:

    I found a way to get over my shyness about haggling. I just ask if they can discount the item. It doesn’t feel so cheap when I use that term.

  2. Pops Wallet says:

    Susan: that’s a great way to put it. I’m always looking for an “easy” line to use to start haggling, and your is a pretty good one. Thanks!

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