My mother-in-law used to always say, “That David can get a deal out of anybody!” Growing up broke, haggling or bartering was imperative to getting anything I wanted or needed at a young age. The first time I went to Mexico, I was with a group of people that knew nothing of haggling. Watching their interactions with one of the locals in the shopping market was an interesting sight. There was confusion in his eyes when one of the members of our group agreed to pay the price the gentleman was asking for without any negotiating.
It was then that I realized the idea of dickering with people to get a lower price was not only accepted, it was expected. Over the years as I have traveled the world, I have found that it is common practice in many countries to negotiate prices. Once, in Central America, I watched in awe as a man became upset with an American that didn’t haggle with him. When I asked the merchant about it, he said that it was offensive that the other man didn’t care enough to take the time to negotiate. It was a relationship issue.
From this, I learned that a price tag is, in many cases, a starting point. In the US, since the last recession, many retailers and merchants have seen declining prices and more competition for our dollars. The saying, “a portion of something is better than all of nothing,” is becoming more prevalent. We are beginning to see employers that are allowing some employees to give certain types of discounts.
While this is becoming more and more common, there are still techniques and rules of thumb that help us be successful in negotiating lower prices:
- See the owner or manager – Commissioned salespeople, managers and owners are often able to offer discounts when many CSRs or clerks are not able to do so.
- Don’t take “no” for an answer – If you find it hard to speak to the person in front of you come back later or call back later. I have, many times in the past, negotiated credit card rates by getting the easier person to deal with on the phone.
- “Shelf wear” items can be great deals – Items with “shelf wear” are items that may have been on the shelf for some time. Retail is about real estate. There is only so much shelf space and things that have been sitting around for a while are often easier to haggle.
- Scratch and dents can dent the price – Scratch and dents including floor models often come with a lower price in able to move the merchandise. We bought a refrigerator once that had a 3 inch scratch on the side of it that would be facing our wall. We were able to get it for 35% off the sticker price.
- Competitors ARE competition – Comparison shopping can work in your favor if you bring in the price of an item from a competitor and ask if the store will beat the price.
- Cash discounts – Often, when you’re driving down the interstate, you’ll see gas stations that offer cash and credit prices. Since credit card companies charge retailers to take your card, some will offer you a discount if you offer to pay in cash.
- Off-hours shopping – The mall and bigger stores get busy on the weekends but may have significantly fewer customers during the week. It is always easier to negotiate during slower times than the busy ones.
- Clearance items – Items that are on clearance are ones the store is already trying to get rid of to make more space. Ask for extra discounts and the salesperson can often help find something. We were in the store not long ago and saw a shirt that was $59. It was marked on clearance for $15. I asked the salesperson if there were any more discounts and she found a coupon that made the final price $6.50.
- High-dollar items – The more something costs, generally the more likely it is that the price is flexible.