My 3 Cents: When and How to Haggle for Everyday Items

We all know not to pay sticker price for a new car -- and these days, not many houses are selling at asking price either. So it should come as no surprise that the prices for many of the things we buy regularly aren't set in stone. And where there's wiggle room, there's haggling.

Webster's Dictionary defines the word "haggle" as "to annoy or exhaust with wrangling." Ugh. Nobody wants to be that person, though various business owners have told me "that person" is everywhere these days, and "those people" are on a tear.

So, since we know it's happening -- and let's face it, we all need to be doing whatever it takes to keep our budgets in check -- how can you haggle gracefully?

There are two cardinal rules for haggling or smart shopping: preparation and patience. So Google before you haggle, and play the long game.

On the preparation side, you can take it a step further than just Googling. You know that nagging feeling you get when you have the item you were looking for in your hand and you think: "I wonder if I could do better online? I wonder if it's in stock and cheaper down the street?"

Find out: You can check prices on the fly with your smartphone using the RedLaser app. Simply take a picture of the item's bar code and it'll instantly tell you if the item is available for less nearby or online.

Also, be aware that store managers at major retailers may have some discretion on prices, and small business owners definitely have a say when it comes to the "best they can do."

My take: Above all else, don't be rude. If you do your own homework, you can reasonably expect to get a decent price by presenting simple facts. If the store offers unique customer service benefits -- they know your name, they repair things for you, etc. -- appreciate their intrinsic value and don't try to eat into their often already small margins.

Also, keep in mind, it's not over till it's over.
Most retailers offer "price protection" policies: They promise to refund a portion of your purchase price if the product you bought drops in price within a certain time frame -- typically 30 days., will watch prices so you don't have to. If an item drops in price after you purchase it, they'll let you know.

Do you haggle? If yes, what's your approach? If not, why not?

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Bruce at CDoST

Haggling is a way of life for me on many purchases. Sale Items are marked down to the HIGHEST PRICE they will take; it's just a question of finding the LOWEST price. But be savy; clearance prices are often based upon an earlier retail price that has been subsequently reduced, but they still show the old reference price. Internet comparison is fine, but Amazon is notorious for showing prices from merchants that no longer exist.

Remember, Clearance Sales, unless that's their normal retailing business plan like at Ollies, cost them more to KEEP the stuff than to get rid of it. If it's a real clearance, it's marked down to Cost or Below, which means they're already going to lose money on the items. In the meantime, valuable retail display space is being used to "give away" the product. If it's a good deal, buy a couple, or buy them out. I have friends who appreciate the great deals I find for US! If I buy 5 at $5 each instead of 1 at $10, well ALL make out!

Learn the Power People where you shop; dept. managers, etc.

Eventually, retailers will reecognize that you are a bona-fide bargain shopper who will actually HELP them move clearance products, so your offers become meaningful. They will even birddog for you. They want BUYERS, not BIDDERS.

Places like Staples, etc. are tough, but they run GREAT clearance sales that are NOT advertised ($400 Name Brand Color Laser printers, clearanced at $50, etc) You just need to know where to look.

July 19 2011 at 11:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Its simple, when you find something you want say it is a little pricey and say you will think about it as you motion to leave. If the sales person has wiggle-room they will come after you with a discount offer. This is the beginning... not the end of the negotiating. You now know that they can lower the price. Push them as far down as you can and still say you will think about it. When they stop following you to the door, you know you got the best price. As a customer you always have the option of coming back later or tomorrow.

July 19 2011 at 10:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The first thing I do is get the lowest price I can find on the internet for a similar item I need quickly, and see if the local store owner/manager will match it. I still have to pay the sales tax, but that's sometimes less than the shipping. This worked great when I had to get 20 gallons of expensive paint last summer.

July 18 2011 at 6:39 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Terry and Mandy

Always haggle on your satellite TV monthly rate when you are signing up for it. Try to negotiate on your DSL bill. Newspaper subscriptions can be discounted. Sirius satelite radio will give you better rates if you ask.

July 18 2011 at 12:34 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply