90% Of Hagglers Get Better Deals

Most hagglers are able to score reduced prices, according to a study to be published in November’s Consumer Reports. Here’s one of their tips for shaving off the dollars:

Deal with the decision maker. If a salesperson isn’t empowered enough to give you a discount, find out who is. At chain stores, that’s typically a manager or supervisor. If your medical plan doesn’t cover the entire cost of a procedure, talk to the doctor, not the office manager.

Survey respondants reported success not just with cars and houses, but also cellphone plans, doctor’s bills, and electronics at big-box retail stores. Are you a haggler? What are your stategies for success?

More Than 90 Percent of Hagglers Scored Better Prices [Broadcast Newsroom via Consumer World Blog]

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  1. Recently I got a Samsung U740 for free (only had to pay the sales tax) after haggling with the Verizon sales person.

    Another reason I picked Samsung is their phones are easy to unlock and able to load all kinds of media on it.

    [www.tian.cc]

    I helped my father to get a brand new 2007 Toyota Camry CE for $18,500 by telling the dealer that I will be calling other dealerships while still on their lot.

  2. missdona says:

    I use haggling as a last resort. For me it’s “Pursue the deal, the deal needs to be found.”

    My latest was a $2500 46″ 1080p Sharp Aquos for $1300. Sharp had a Friends & Family sale, I am neither a friend nor a family of Sharp. It turns out that my job gave the same discount on their Intranet site. And the deal? is done.

  3. amoeba says:

    I don’t have the courage to use “haggling”. I don’t know how to use it nor when I need to use it.

  4. 12monkeys says:

    @Tian: $18500 wow ha ha those ce’s go on sale for $17495 almost every weekend around here.Bet your father is glad you were there to help out ha ha

  5. darkclawsofchaos says:

    haggle only for a good price, don’t bully people

  6. guroth says:

    “I helped my father to get a brand new 2007 Toyota Camry CE for $18,500 by telling the dealer that I will be calling other dealerships while still on their lot.”

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but that is how much they cost without haggling.

  7. Adam291 says:

    The “electronic big box retail stores” vary. When I was looking for a LCD tv at Best Buy, I was trying to work something out with the guy and he said because that location is run directly from the corporate offices they do zero haggling or negotiating.

  8. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    @12monkeys:

    See how Guroth responded to Tian’s comment WITHOUT being a jackass?

  9. EtherealStrife says:

    Well…duh. In the automotive industry if you don’t haggle you’re pretty much throwing your money away. It’s also useful at electronics stores when making a large purchase. While they’re sometimes unwilling to haggle on the price, they’ll often toss in lots of nice peripherals to pick up your commission. Unfortunately these days the best prices are online. :-

  10. stpauliegirl says:

    I had a very sympathetic dentist when I didn’t have dental insurance. If I had two fillings that needed to be done that were close together, often he’d fill ‘em both but only write one down on the billing sheet. I think he also felt sorry for me because I did all my dental stuffs without Novocaine.

  11. mr_jrdn says:

    I’m terrible at haggling. I usually do a lot of research on any products before I buy them, and then wait for a sale. Too bad for me because sometimes I don’t like waiting!

  12. 12monkeys says:

    @Consumerist Moderator – ACAMBRAS: WOW such language from a “MODERATOR” You kiss your mom with that mouth?I was’nt being a JACKASS I was joking….Did you not see the HA HAs

  13. Parting says:

    @12monkeys:

    That depends on the options he took. So it might or it might not be a good deal.
    Play nice ;)

  14. 12monkeys says:

    @chouchou: I WAS JUST JOKING and the options on a CE are all the same the only option you have is manual or auto

  15. timmus says:

    My track record on the things I haggled:
    1990 at Sears for camcorder: YES, got about 15% off
    1993 at Circuit City for new Sony TR-101 camcorder: NO
    1994 buying Sony VX-3 camcorder from a highly rated mail order place: NO
    1999 used Accord in classifieds: YES, duh, about 10%
    2001 buying a John Deere mower from a dealer: YES, about 25% off (played dealers against each other)

    Yeah, it’s been awhile since I’ve bought big ticket items. Never bought from a car dealer yet.

  16. swalve says:

    @EtherealStrife: No, “haggling” is for amateurs and for buying trinkets at the bazaar. Two adults discussing a business transaction is not haggling. I’ll be sure to remember this when I’m in line behind jackasses like this.

  17. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    @12monkeys:
    You kiss your mom with that mouth?

    My mom’s a very smart lady, and I think if she read this she’d agree that you were being a jackass. Cut it out.

  18. louisb3 says:

    @Consumerist Moderator – ACAMBRAS: You’re in the right here, but if 12monkeys doesn’t understand why his comment was rude, it might be productive to explain why.

  19. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    @louisb3:
    You think so? Guroth managed to break some bad news to Tian without taunting and gloating. And even after his nastiness was called out by 2 different people (and numerous others who flagged the comment), 12monkeys still doesn’t think he was being rude.

    So no, I’m not going to waste any time trying to spell it all out for him. If he can’t play nice, he can go play elsewhere.

  20. mantari says:

    @Consumerist Moderator – ACAMBRAS: 12monkeys is haggling with you. Don’t give in! Haggle back!

  21. StevieD says:

    Haggling is for Turkish bazaars and for children on the playground.

    Adults pay the price and move on to bigger and better things.

    Before everybody jumps upon my post just remember one key phrase….. Time value of money. Time and money can be measured in many things beyond the scope of a simple banking equation.

    As a consumer I would rather spend time with my family than waste 5 extra seconds on the dealer’s lot negotiating the price of a car. The price I pay is quick and fair. The jackass of a brother-in-law will spend his two week vacation time trying to better my price on an identical car and in the end he will save himself a few bucks and brag that he pulled one over the man. Big whoop. The time I prevented myself from wasting while buying a car is put to good use trying to make babies with the wife and reading bedtime stories to my kids. Like I said, I got better things to do with my time.

    As a seller, I have a simple philosophy…. Discounts are earned. My sales people have absolutely no wiggle room. No benefits. No freebies. Here is the price, take it or leave it. My philosophy may not be understood by the average retail consumer, but for my business customers dealing with my company is quick and painless. And yes I am successful. Maybe it is because 99% of the people buying industrial equipment and supplies are actual business people whom understand the time value of money concept and would rather be doing their profitable business tasks that trying to haggle the price of a pallet jack.

    By the way, the next time you feel the urge to haggle, just walk up to the counter clerk at McD’s and demand that you get $0.05 off a Quarter Pounder or you will take your business across the street to BK.

  22. endless says:

    Well yes time has a value. That doesn’t mean haggling doesn’t have its place. Especially simple haggling, just asking for a discount or trying to price match.

    If you can save 100$ in 2 minutes, I would like to see most people earn that kind of money in all that time they saved not asking.

  23. Trai_Dep says:

    Dude, are you completely unfamiliar of the concept of B2B vs B2C markets being totally different? Because they are. If you don’t know this, you’re not quite the savvy businessman you think you are.

    And if one of my purchasing guys didn’t research multiple vendors for the best deal, they’d be fired. Hence they’d skip right over you unless your list price was among the lowest. Unless your guys hustled to chase this “lost” business. Odds are pretty good you’re not even aware of the sales you’re missing.

  24. PingPongDarts says:

    @StevieD:
    But wouldn’t taking a short amount of time doing your research and saving some decent money on choice purchases (car, TV, etc.) mean that you wouldn’t have to work as much at your regular job recouping the difference–which would then mean you could spend more time with your family?

    I agree that haggling over minor purchases such as DVDs or quarter pounders is a waste of time, but wouldn’t it be worth it to save a hundred–or even a thousand–dollars on a larger purchase? Especially if these people aren’t as financially well-off as successful business owners such as yourself?

    I’m not saying you’re wrong here or even that I disagree with your philosophy in general, but I do think that just because your business practices and customers work one way in a specific industry, does not make all of your views absolute to others.

    Anyway, one flaw I do want to point out in your post and my first paragraph is the assumption that time saved is automatically used toward family. Not to say family isn’t important, but for a lot of people, kids aren’t around all the time and even when they are, they (the kids) have things they need to do like homework or ignoring their parents (if you have teenagers). Also, this time could also hypothetically be coming out of time spent watching commercials on TV or any number of other things we do that waste our time on a daily basis. There are extremes on both ends of the spectrum such as your “brother-in-law wasting two weeks and ignoring his family” example (I’m totally with you there–that guy would need a lot of help), but I think you’re neglecting the normal people who fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.

  25. alk509 says:

    @StevieD:

    Haggling is for Turkish bazaars and for children on the playground.”

    [...]

    As a seller[...]“

    I see what you did there.

  26. EtherealStrife says:

    @swalve: I had no idea so many people hated money. Viva la revolucion, comrades. Or are you just too prissy to call it “haggling”? Does your feces stink less when you call it business negotiations?

    Even if I’m taking time off from work to haggle, I’m saving money. And 100% of the time thus far I haven’t had to take time off. Therefore it’s free money.

    @StevieD: I can totally understand the desire to avoid the back and forth process. When I bought my last car I had a price in mind that I was willing to pay and stuck with it. After about 2 hours of my time “haggling” I drove off in the car, out of pocket the exact amount I had in mind (out the door). For me, it was absolutely worth 2 hours time to get the car I wanted for the price I wanted. If I made several thousand dollars per hour after taxes, it would not be.

  27. Trojan69 says:

    There was a famous salesman, Herb Cohen (big buddy of Larry King), who wrote many books about the art of the sale who bragged he could always get a better deal.

    Typically, he would change the terms of the deal with add-ons (like getting an extra option on a car) and declare he “won.” One fine day, he was challenged to the test of getting a combo meal at McDonalds for less than the posted price, and without being able to promise any other future business guarantees/ancillary income to the manager.

    He lost. :)

  28. JustAGuy2 says:

    @StevieD:

    Just so you know, the “time value of money” you keep referring to is a very specific concept, and it ISN’T the same as “my time has value.”

    The “time value of money” refers to the fact that, in short, a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow. It’s the underlying principle of discounted cash flow analysis, among other things.

  29. CumaeanSibyl says:

    The best way I’ve found of haggling is to work in pairs. It’s not exactly a good-cop bad-cop routine, it’s more of a bad-cop worse-cop — one partner to look uninterested, and one to frown skeptically. A combination of low-voiced, unenthusiastic conferencing and unconvinced silence will often get a salesperson to start offering deals, if he/she is empowered to do so, to avoid losing the sale. I got about $150 off a washer-dryer set and $75 off a cabinet-mounted microwave on two different occasions, from different salespeople.

    Obviously, the salespeople at that store were allowed (or even encouraged) to negotiate with customers, which is something that’s good to know, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll give you a discount unless it’s clearly a choice between a smaller commission and no commission at all.

  30. @amoeba: “I don’t have the courage to use “haggling”. I don’t know how to use it nor when I need to use it.”

    The simplest, easiest thing to do is to ask, “Can I get a discount?” Now, you’ve got to have a REASON for that — I’m buying 50 of your thingamajigs for my organization (volume discount), I’m buying the floor model, your thingamajig will have prominent placement at my event (advertising), I’m spending a ridiculous amount of money or buying a ridiculous number of things (you’re only cutting a little into your profit margin if you knock off 5%).

    You can phrase it very politely and non-confrontationally, like, “Is there any way I could get a discount on this, because …?” And if the answer is no, smile and say, “Thank you, I just thought I would ask.”

    The other thing I’ve had a lot of success with is being simply truthful and saying, “I really like this X, but it’s more than I was planning to spend today.” Sometimes they can give you a discount on it, sometimes they know something similar that costs less, or sometimes they can tell you when the sale will start or will put you on the call list or even on the preview sale invite list. Any of those outcomes is helpful!

    I was buying my husband suits, and I said to the guy helping us (who was the store owner) that I really liked the two suits he’d picked out, which came to a total of $700, but it was a lot more than I’d planned on spending that day, so I didn’t think I could manage both. He said “Let me see what I can do” and the upshot was that I walked out of the store with both suits, two shirts, and a tie for $450.

    With the second technique you have to be willing to walk away (like I said, you have to be truthful when you’re saying you weren’t going to spend/can’t afford that much), and it helps if you shop there often or are an attractive repeat customer for them.

    @StevieD: “By the way, the next time you feel the urge to haggle, just walk up to the counter clerk at McD’s and demand that you get $0.05 off a Quarter Pounder or you will take your business across the street to BK.”

    Apparently if you do this at closing you can be very successful. Otherwise they have to throw that food out.

  31. Beerad says:

    As a total non-haggler (never having bought a house or a car), does anyone have tips on how this is supposed to work at a big box store? I doubt that Skippy the sales associate is going to be able to do much for me when I say “Gee, I’d like to buy those shiny new appliances, but they’re a little on the pricey side for me.” Or maybe it’s just that I live in NYC where “customer service” at those places tends to mean “grudging assistance with a free helping of surly.”

  32. enm4r says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: Apparently if you do this at closing you can be very successful. Otherwise they have to throw that food out.

    Last time I was at Panera (Chicago) at close they had a bunch of pizza dough already made that apparently they have to get rid of. It turned into a “how much will you give me for pizza?” game, I eventually walked out with 2 pizzas for like $5, and another guy there did the same. Better to get something than nothing, and it ensures repeat business from such a great experience. Win win.

  33. @Beerad: Probably first you need to be talking with a manager. If it’s a place with monthly sales targets, go at the end of the month. I’d try, “I really like this appliance, but it’s a little more than I can afford. Can you tell me when the next sale will be? I’d buy it today if it were $250 instead of $300, but I just can’t swing $300 …”

    If they’re short of their sales goal for the month, that “buy it today for $250″ will be fairly attractive.

    And if not, well, at least you’ll know when the next sale is!

  34. freshyill says:

    Haggling will usually only annoy the employees at Best Buy, since they make no commission, and it’s not within their power to change prices. Open box merchandise, however, is an exception. There are guidelines for open box merchandise prices, but they can be flexible. Anything open box has a date on it, if that date is a month ago and the price is still $X, there’s a possibility that you can get them to knock the price down a bit. If it’s missing a manual, remote, cables, etc., or has scratches, that’s a little more that can be knocked off. It won’t always work, and if they’ve already priced it down a lot, it’s unlikely they’ll go much lower. Usually they’ll check it against the employee price (five percent above cost), and will never go lower than that. Remember to deal with a manager or department supervisor, because regular employees can’t do anything.

  35. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    @enm4r:

    Sometimes if you’re at Panera close to closing time, they’ll give away baked goods rather than throwing them out. I tried to buy a few sourdough rolls, and the employee said, “Here, just take them.” The rolls were fine, btw.

  36. missdona says:

    If you’re in metro NY, shop at PC Richard. They’ll try to price match/beat any local competitor price.

    Do your homework, know the “web” price and simply ask, “is this the best price you can give me on this _____ (washer, dryer, microwave, tv) etc”

    They go to the computer, punch in some numbers and come up back with anything from 10-25% off.

    I wouldn’t do it for say, a clock radio, or batteries or anything like that.

  37. stpauliegirl says:

    @Consumerist Moderator – ACAMBRAS: My mom always buys bagels at the end of the day because of this, always scoring a few free. A couple weeks ago, they gave her 24 for the price of 12 to save ‘em from the garbage bin.

  38. rmz says:

    Haggling over an open-box or floor-model item is one thing, but walking into a video game store and saying “I’ll give you $30 for this brand-new $40 game” to the 18-year-old clerk will never get you anywhere and will only waste the time of everyone involved. Moreso when you ask repeatedly, unable to grasp the concept of “I’m sorry, sir, the prices are set by corporate and we can’t change them.”

    Sorry, I just flashed back to an old job there for a minute.

  39. @12monkeys:

    $18,500 after tax (8.2%), Doc fee ($369), registration ($370).

    The actual vehicle price was down to $16,200.

  40. @guroth:

    The actual vehicle price was down to $16,200. $18,500 was the final price after tax, registration, & other fees.

  41. bbbici says:

    I like to ‘bundle’ items. Say a sweater is $200, and there is another shirt I like that is $50. I know that retail markup on clothes is about 100% (double what the retailer paid).

    Do not tell the retailer you are interested in the shirt. First, make a very low offer on the sweater. If the retailer accepts, great. If not, I’ll ask for a small discount on the sweater AND the shirt at 40-50% off.

    This way I get two things i wanted, the retailer gets more overall profit than he would have otherwise and moves more inventory. It’s a win-win situation.

    The internet gives buyers the power. Just walk away if a retailer refuses to entertain reasonable offers. Try to support local businesses, but if they can’t come down to within 15% of the internet price, then their business model is doomed. It amazes me that some retailers would rather make no profit (and maybe lose a customer) than some profit (and repeat sales).

    Oh yeah, make reasonable offers. Retailers need to eat too.

  42. Trai_Dep says:

    RMZ – true, but everyone besides StevieD chuckles at the idea of haggling for EVERYthing. But strategic use of the technique, with a smile, never hurts. As does the willingness to walk out the door w/o the item.

    You guys should visit Asia. EVERYthing is negotiable, and it’s sort of an insult not to haggle, a bit. Unless you’re a very small child, or an American tourist (draw what you may from that comparison)

  43. MeOhMy says:

    @stpauliegirl:

    My mom always buys bagels at the end of the day because of this, always scoring a few free. A couple weeks ago, they gave her 24 for the price of 12 to save ‘em from the garbage bin.

    LOL. I used to do all sorts of end-of-they-day wheeling and dealing during my bagel-hawking days. Good memories.

  44. 12monkeys says:

    @Tian: Well maybe you are telling the truth,but your math still does not work out to $16200.And this is well below the cost on this model (even a manual tranny)and Camry generally does not have much rebates availiable on them.Every now and then Toyota will have $500 on them.

  45. TurboWagon00 says:

    The cafeteria in our building sells “breakfast” bagels/pastries for half-price after 11AM and puts them in a box by the trash after 1:30 (along with still-warm lunch pizza), which is perfect for the procrastinator that I am. Some day they will do their sales forecasting better :)

  46. bbbici says:

    Let me guess: Stevie D manages a Dunder Miflin Paper outlet?

  47. nardo218 says:

    @enm4r: This is a good idea. When I’m writing, I sometimes stay at Starbucks until closing. Once, the barrista gave away the sandwiches and fruit platters rather than throw them out. (They can’t donate those to the homeless like loaves of bread.) I suppose next time I’m there, at ten to closing I’ll ask if I can get one of those yummy expensive sandwiches for a discount. (And maybe they’ll say “just take it.”)

    Thanks! I’m a non-haggler too, but this convo has had some good tips.

  48. nardo218 says:

    Any ideas on getting more than 10% off of damaged merchendise? I found a large wire basket w/ a cloth liner at Ross; the casters were wobbly and the cloth had rust stains and dirt inside. Since I was going to stick it in the closet and fill it with shoes, I didn’t mind the dirt or damage, so I took it to the register and asked for a discount.

    It cost ~$15 and for that condition, at that kind of store, and considering it had probably sat in the store for long itme, I think I should have gotten more than $1.50 off, but the cashier said that that percent is the company standard. AND you can’t return it. How do you fight company standard when it’s a stupid standard?

  49. kwsdurango says:

    Best haggle: A handmade Moroccan rug purchased in Tangiers. Asking price: $3000.00 Price paid: $900.00. The best parts: Free mint tea and a great story.

    For cars, in the US, I do a lot of research, then pick a price I’m willing to pay then I take one check only (no checkbook) to the dealership and at some point in the conversation I say “I’m going to start filling out this check, my only check, with this amount $XX and that’s it.” This has worked twice – both times for significantly less than the asking price. The sales person and sales manager simply couldn’t let me tear up a check written to them for a fair price.

  50. swalve says:

    @nardo218: Don’t buy it.

  51. EtherealStrife says:

    @12monkeys: Huh? You realize the markup is extraordinary, right? It all depends on how desperate they are to get the cars off the lot. Haggling a Honda Civic in Southern California won’t get you anywhere. Haggle the same Civic in Fairbanks and I imagine you’d have em by the balls.

    Always use the DEALER price as the baseline to negotiate from. NOT the sticker. On a less than popular economy car, picking up 800-1k at the end of the month will almost always please the dealer (in my exp). If you can, have several models in mind from the same dealership. They may be willing to really negotiate on some, while others are near sticker. Get the out the door price before you agree to anything. Different counties have different fees and taxes, so just because one dealership deals more than another doesn’t mean they’ll have the lowest after everything.

    And most important of all, be ready to walk. For real.

    @freshyill: That’s the only reason why I’ve made purchases from Circuit City.
    Commission = haggling room. I got them to price match Best Buy AND throw in some peripheral goodies (monster cables) when I picked up a surround sound system, a few years ago.