Haggle With Chain Stores

The Times is reporting that recession-fearing chain stores like Best Buy, Home Depot, and Circuit City are increasingly more desperate to clinch sales by negotiating prices. Hit the jump to see how ordinary shoppers are wielding research and charisma to knock added savings out of retailers.

Michael Roskell, 33, a technology project manager from Jersey City, N.J., said he and a friend from high school periodically visit electronics stores. While Mr. Roskell expresses interest in buying an item, his friend acts as though he is dissatisfied with the price and threatens to leave.

“We play good cop, bad cop,” Mr. Roskell said.

In February, he said, the friends got $20 off a pair of $250 speakers at 6th Avenue Electronics in the New York area. Earlier, he and the same friend negotiated to buy two 46-inch high-definition Sony televisions at P. C. Richard & Son, a New York-area electronics chain.

List price: $4,300. Price after negotiation: $3,305.50.

“My parents never did this,” Mr. Roskell said. “But once you get it, you realize there’s a whole economy built on this.”

The strategy can even work when buying pants. At least it did for David Achee of Maplewood, N.J., who said he went to a Polo Ralph Lauren store in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan last month and became interested in a pair of pants on the clearance rack for $75. He told the salesperson that he had seen a similar pair on the Internet for $65, adding that he thought the pair on the rack looked worn (even though he did not really think so). He got the pants for around $50, he said.

Among his other tactics, he said, he sometimes threatens to walk out of a store and go to a competitor, as he did recently to get a price break on a drum set at a music store. But, mainly, he relies on researching prices and coming armed with information — prices he finds on the Internet and in ads from competitors.

“You can negotiate, but you have to do your research,” said Mr. Achee, who works for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. “When I’m bargaining, I’m bargaining with information.”

Research isn’t your only ammo. Buying high-margin accessories (that you can return later) can help coax salespeople into lowering prices. One former Best Buy salesman also suggests, “If you get denied once, go looking for someone else who looks nice.”

Of course none is this groundbreaking or new; it’s just becoming more accepted and widespread. What are your best haggling tactics? Share in the comments.

At Megastores, Hagglers Find No Price Set in Stone [NYT]
PREVIOUSLY: The Rebirth Of Haggling?
Pick Up Some Haggling Tips At HowToHaggle.com
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. thirdbase says:

    I will pay fewer worthless american dollars for crappy chinese manufactured electronics.
    Take it or leave it.

  2. Fry says:

    Is it just me, or is this a repost? I think something may be up with Gawker Media at the moment, as the new story Kotaku posted a few hours ago disappeared…

  3. malcs says:

    another tip is that Sony Centres (and possibly other stores) have a list behind the counter or in the backroom that states what they can give away for free with stuff and also the prices you can drop things down to!!

    I used to work in one of these stores and you always get stuff like a free DVDRW with a 40″ LCD or even a free 20″ LCD when you buy a big one! These things are not promoted and are only ever used as deal sweeteners so if you ask you will get! :)

  4. CrunchyFrogger says:

    If you’re a savvy shopper, ask politely for their best price. Don’t haggle. This is America, we don’t haggle in America. If you haggle, you usually end up looking/acting like a total douche. Try telling the cute chick at Starbucks that you only want to pay $3.50 for that $4.75 cup of MochaFrappaDouchealotta (after she’s already made it) and she’ll just cock her head sideways and blink at you uncomprehendingly. Why is it o.k. to try this when buying electronics? Grab a salesman, waste his time, then ask for an outrageous price drop, then act offended and throw a public fit when they say no? Wrong.

    “But why should I pay full price when I can act like a douche and get a discount?”

    Because you’re acting like a douche that’s why!

    /douche

  5. DeltaPurser says:

    So, you managed to chew ‘em down a bit on a pair of jeans… Good for you. Now you can walk around in a pair of last-years jeans that you saved a few $$ on.

  6. DeltaPurser says:

    @CrunchyFrogger: I didn’t want to say it, but am glad you did :-) The guy is a total DOUCHE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. shockwaver says:

    As an example of why this pisses me off from a former salesman standpoint:

    On say a $1599 laptop, the cost would be (in the system, not really actual cost) something like $1359. My commission on that laptop would be $15.99 (1%). It may take me two hours to sell one of those things. If I discount it even $0.01, I immediately lose $10 off my commission. So yes, this pisses me off. It’s hard enough to make a living selling computers, when every Tom, Dick, and Harry think they are entitled to a lower price on something because they are assholes. Now I’m an honest guy, if someone is selling it lower, I will discount it to beat the price, and if you are buying the warranty, I can discount it (a $299 warranty nets me roughly $40) without knowing that I won’t even make minimum wage today.

    I’m sorry, if you came to me, right off the bat and demanded $150 off this laptop cause you saw it online, I’d tell you to buy it there. I didn’t make enough to deal with that crap on what I was selling.

  8. bravo369 says:

    frankly i hate haggling. I understand you need a profit margin but let’s skip the song and dance. Why should i go too low, you go too high and then we meet in the middle which is where i wanted to go anyway. just give me the middle price and we can save 30 minutes of our time.

    I also want to ask if anyone has had luck at circuit city. I will be buying a 46 inch tv soon and think i might try this haggling. how far are circuit city employees allowed to take off or do i have to be dealing with a manager?

  9. lonewolf333 says:

    What kind of nutjob pays 50 bucks for a pair of pants?

  10. HawkWolf says:

    I don’t like haggling. I don’t like tipping people either. I guess I’m just a jerk, but I think there’s a trust relationship that you should have with a retailer or service provider that says, “I give you my money, and you give me the service or product I’m paying for.”

    I understand that in some places, haggling is the norm, but that place isn’t where I’ve spent 26 years of my life so far.

  11. Fidel on the Roof says:

    I hate haggling. Why can’t everyone be f’n fair?

    Anyway, if the product doesn’t look worn, don’t lie. It is one thing if it is cheaper online… it is another thing to lie.

  12. SaraAB87 says:

    I think if I went to the stores I go to and started haggling they would tell me to get out, big box retailers don’t care, and won’t lower the price. Also, the stores mentioned in the article are not big box chain retailers, so YMMV on this tactic. Don’t expect Kmart or Walmart to go lower on an item just because you walk in there and start haggling and telling them “the price is lower on the internet”.

  13. surfboard32 says:

    I haggled with Best Buy about 2 months ago. I went to buy a Pioneer A/V reciever, but before i to the store i went online to check the prices.

    After going to Best Buy the general manager came over and talked to, told me how great the reciever was. I agreed with him. The only thing i did not like was the price that was $150 more then what online stores listed it as.

    He told me to go home and print out price online and bring it back. I did and he matched the price! He did not have to do this at all especially since the store policy is to price beat local store prices.

  14. TheStephenRay says:

    I’m not condoning taking money away from people, but haggling is *not* a crime! We can thank JC Penny’s for doing “the set price is the price, and that’s it!” mentality. They were the first company that ever did that, and other retailers caught on. No, it doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense to barter on a $4 drink, but the more expensive a product is, it usually has a higher markup.

    Spend any time in almost any other country, and you will see that this is the norm. And, often, most products are not that much more expensive than ours.

  15. BugMeNot2 says:

    A friend and I both wanted the same big ticket item, and we decided to use that as a point to haggle. We tried Frys and Best Buy, and the managers at neither store budged an inch.

    Frys told us they always start out at the best price. The very next day, the sales was over and the price went back up $500. ;)

    Anyway, not an encouraging experience here, at least as far as electronics is concerned. Easier to look for sales. :( My friend eventually just bought the item online.

  16. Bodgy says:

    So the guy lied about the condition of a pair of pants and got some money off? How is lying good?

  17. sam says:

    Being able to haggle at P.C. Richard isn’t a new thing. I’ve never paid full price for anything there. It’s essentially their entire business model, to offer discounts particularly when you’re looking to buy more than one item.

    3 years ago, I got close to $1000 off the price of my kitchen appliances, because I bought them all together.

    2 years ago, when my best friend and I were both thinking about getting flat-paneled TVs, I suggested we go together to PC Richard, specifically because we could probably negotiate a deal if we were buying two at the same time. And we did.

    Both times, I paid less for the equipment than I was able to find in any other store or online.

  18. Id_LQQK says:

    @shockwaver: You DeltaPursuer and CrunchyFogger are lost. This is the consumerist.com site. The end of the article asks for help not comercial wining.
    @shockwaver:
    You are no different than that person asking for the discount. You are only interested in how the affects your wallet. So is he/she doing the haggling.
    The company selling the product will still make money off the sale. If their sale practices use commission for sales people, then it is the company that is the root of the problem… not the sales person nor the consumer.
    Most places have removed the commission aspect of the sale. It is only fair that a sales person be rewarded for providing good service, not for being ruthless and money hungary. Pay the person a honest rate -> they do a good job for the customer -> customer tells friend, “Ask for Bob, he did right by me.” -> Bob’s sales go up significantly -> Bob get a raise or promoted = everyone’s happy.
    That’s how it is suppose to work if the Anti-consumerists of sales and customer service can be weeded out.

  19. dextrone says:

    @TheStephenRay: Yes, precisely, America consumers are treated like they have no rights to do business.

    The store can’t be considered superior in comparison to the consumer. However, since Americans are used to this, they really don’t try to fight back….it’s almost like brainwashing.

    (I wonder why the consumerist was made :)

  20. The two most powerful tools a haggler has are willingness to walk away if you don’t like the deal (whether that’s full price or an actual deal), and willingness to make non-monetary “deals.”

    Like they won’t drop the price on a suit, but they WILL throw in free tailoring or a tie. (I do my husband’s shopping.) Or they can’t drop the price on X, but they’ll hold it for me for three days because there’s coupon coming in the mail/sale starting/they’ll give me an invite to the 40% off preview/whatever.

    I don’t lie when I’m looking to make a deal, and I’m always polite. Generally my most effective tool is simply, “I really like this, but I wasn’t looking to spend quite so much today.” (or “I simply don’t have it in the budget” or whatever the case is.) Now, I don’t do this all that often (probably less than 1% of my shopping), and I really only do it on big-ticket items, and only in certain types of stores (I can imagine asking for a larger discount on an open-box item at, say, Target, but I’ve never actually done it, and I can’t really imagine HAGGLING about it).

    A second important point to make is that I do live in a smaller community, I do patronize these stores frequently, and they KNOW when I send them customers. So I’m not walking into random stores demanding discounts; these are places where I’m a good customer and have some relationship with the store people. And in a smaller community there is a little more flexibility, since “advertising” is very relational here, since everyone knows EVERYONE.

    My husband’s suit guy particularly loves me; I testified at a liquor license hearing in favor of a license he was trying to acquire for another business he owned (which I didn’t know he owned; in a community this small, that kind of thing happens a lot), AND I send him all of my students who come to me and say, “I have an interview, but I don’t know where to buy a suit? Or, um, how to buy one I don’t look stupid in?”

    I mean, if you refer 200 people to your favorite direct-to-consumer-sales-doing farmer, why are you shocked if he discounts your tomatoes? Relationships keep business running. (And, yes, in my self-employed business work, I make deals with clients too.)

  21. Id_LQQK says:

    @HawkWolf:
    If you don’t tip to those who make part of their wages off of providing you that service,… you are a jerk and essentially a mooch. I am against automatic or manditory gratuity, but I will tip based on the service I recieve.

    Also, you have lives a pretty sheltered 26 year short life. More likely, you just haggle the non-confrontational way. You spend your money where you get the best value, not full retail price. Why pay retail if you don’t have to. Unless,… your sheltered life is one where money is not a concern… i.e. Paris Hilton. She’s a pillar of society, right?

  22. Id_LQQK says:

    @SaraAB87: That is where you would be wrong. You just have to know who to talk to without pissing anyone off or being rude. Geed manners get good service. Simply ask if there is someone here who can make me a good deal on this product. Either the sales associate will step up and say, “I can do that.” or “What kind of deal are you looking for and I can run it by the manager?”
    Granted, It probably will not work if you are looking at the last Wii or PS3 on the shelf. However, if it is a large item that does not move so quickly out of inventory your barganing will have better results.

  23. forgottenpassword says:

    I think salesmen are more apt to laugh at you if you attempt to haggle. Its just unheard of around here. Who haggles when going to buy a tv at best buy? Noone that’s who. And a best buy salesmonkey is just going to say that the price is set. I’ve met too many salemen who are just jerks anyway & have absolutely NO respect for their customers.

  24. forgottenpassword says:

    @forgottenpassword:

    Besides…. its much easier to just shop around for a better price somewhere’s else.

  25. Id_LQQK says:

    If someone is willing to pay $5 for a bottle of water, $300 for a pair of jeans, or $10 for a burger, fries , and drink… then that’s what the price will continue to be… or higher. The retail mark-up is quite severe.
    It is up to the consumer to say, “Are you f’n mad! I’ll give you 75 cents for what maybe cost you 5 cents for that water.”
    For example, at a dealer would you pay sticker price on a new or used vehicle? If you do, you must not like having an extra couple grand in your bank account… If that’s the case, give that extra money to a charity and get the tax deduction.

  26. kuebby says:

    My parents took advantage of bargaining a couple years ago when buying an HDTV at the local Boscov’s (department store). The TV was originally $3500 on sale for $3300. By being polite and shopping around we got the TV (from them) for $3100 plus a 1-year service warranty.

  27. Eric1285 says:

    I love haggling. It’s a way of life. I’ll never forget when I walked into a Pier One store that was closing and saw a $350 TV stand sitting by the register. It was in good shape, but it it looked like it had one or two small nicks on it. I casually asked the sales rep about it, and she said it was discounted to $150 or $175. I mentioned that it wasn’t in perfect condition, and that I’d take it off their hands for $75. She checked with her manager and ended up giving it to me for the price I offered.

    Unfortunately, the tv stand ended up getting stolen. Still, I’d rather lose a $75 tv stand than a $350 one.

  28. no.no.notorious says:

    i love the inter-racial couple in the picture. nothing says ‘im such a free spirit’ more than a long multi-fabric skirt, an Indian husband (aka boyfriend of 17 years) and shopping for an HD tv.

  29. @Id_LQQK: “However, if it is a large item that does not move so quickly out of inventory your barganing will have better results.”

    That’s another good point. There’s a point at which it costs more to keep things in inventory than to sell them at a loss. I worked at a “variety store” (like a 5-and-dime for the modern era) in high school, and every year we had a “sidewalk sale” where we marked all of that stuff that was costing us in inventory waaaaaaaay down, and on the last day of the sale, sold “all you can fit in a bag for a buck” bags.

    Some of our customers knew when the sidewalk sale was coming, and knew that about two weeks before that they could play “let’s make a deal” with the manager on older merchandise that we just needed to offload.

    In some types of retail, once things are starting to be marked down, they’re really just trying to get them off the sales floor and out of inventory at the best price possible, and they quite frequently will deal.

  30. spanky says:

    There’s a fine line on haggling for me. I can and have made offers for things like floor models or scratch and dent merchandise, and I can see it being reasonable for unique products (handmade, used, or straggler clearance items, for example), but if haggling starts to become the default or even commonplace at a particular place such that different customers are paying different prices for the exact same things, I’ll stop going there.

    I don’t want to have to bicker to avoid paying more than other customers, and I really really don’t like the idea of stores effectively charging different prices based on the customers’ negotiating skills or looks or whatever other criteria they are setting. That’s probably the thing I hate the most about auto sales, for example. And regardless of which side of the equation I’d end up on in any given instance, it’s not a practice I want to support.

    @DeltaPurser: But he’s paid enough already, what with suffering the indignity of being seen wearing LAST YEAR’S JEANS. That’s like walking around in public with a big pile of shit on your head or something! I would never pay more than $50 for that, either.

  31. anonymousryan says:

    To me, haggling just isn’t worth the hassle. I’d rather just research prices and sales to find the best price. But maybe that’s just because I have social anxiety.

  32. Skweez says:

    Anyone who ever sold TO the chains (I did), understands that big retailers squeeze considerable price concessions from their suppliers. If you think retailers pay the vendors’ “published price”, you’re dead wrong. It’s a meat-grinder environment, and intense price negotiations are universally expected.

    Since that’s the way they buy, I make sure that’s the way they sell too (to me). I am not ashamed or embarrassed to haggle whenever I can.

  33. Id_LQQK says:

    @Eyebrows McGee:
    I had a former Lowes employee tell me that the items that are maked on the shelf with a different color sticker are the items they are trying to closeout. He said you can always make a deal on these, especially if you buy in groups or multiples.

    Another price labling tell is when some stores change the price on an item and the cents part is odd or different. For expample, The original price was 19.99, then it changes to 16.97, then 14.94… the cents is a tag to the sales person about how badly the item is moving and or if that is the lowest price they will take.

    Also, if they are out of stock on an item and are not expecting more in soon… make an offer on the display.

    I have used all these tells and angles with great success. Just always be polite and ask for someone who can make a deal.

  34. Id_LQQK says:

    @spanky: Sorry to say but, if you buy the item as listed you are supporting the practice that makes the price continually higher and thus needs the haggler to bring the price back down to something reasonable… (reasonable is a relative term to each consumer’s means)

  35. Traveshamockery says:

    It’s okay that some of you aren’t comfortable asking for a discount. It’s even better that some of you consider yourselves “above” haggling. That makes it more likely for them to mark it down for the rest of us when we come by to negotiate!

  36. TruPhan says:

    If this guy is shopping around online, surely it’d be easier to find a cheap price that way rather than cutting into some poor college kid’s salary.

  37. spanky says:

    @Id_LQQK: Ha ha, do you really think so?

    I’m finding it difficult to imagine what bizarre scenario you’re imagining here. For everything but the most insignificant purchases, I research the products and prices ahead of time, then pay a fair price (not always the lowest price) for what I want.

    So I suppose I could just as readily blame you for the increasingly poor quality products flooding the marketplace, as that trend seems to be driven by shortsighted, uneducated consumers who base their purchasing decisions based on the immediate cost of acquisition alone. But I won’t.

  38. rtipping says:

    Knowing the balance is key here as both purchaser and seller I have had many experiences at leading with my best price only to have it thrown in my face.
    One very effective practice for long term purchasing is to establish a relationship as a fair person and after a while introduce “is that the best you can do?”into the negotiation.

    Remember when your hammering for a lower price you will always loose something if the other does not make money.
    Accept the seller has to make a living and he will go the extra mile guaranteed.

    And in the final analogy if you are not happy with a service or a seller don’t shop there nothing gets the attention of a business faster than falling sales.

  39. Id_LQQK says:

    @spanky: Not so fast…and the scenerios are endless in America.
    Don’t get me wrong. I shop around and research the products I’m buying extensively. That is how I arm myself with the knowledge of price AND quality.

    You can thank me, though, for ensuring your good quality products don’t have an over inflated price. That way there is less work for those of you who get squimish stomachs at the thought of haggling to get a good value for your money.

  40. nardo218 says:

    I’ve tried to get a discount on floor or damaged merch, but most stores say that 10% off is standard, and you can’t return. This really doesn’t seem like a good deal to me. Has anyone else broken through the 10% ceiling?

  41. @Id_LQQK: I enjoy buying display models and store fixtures.

    But sometimes you have to ask a few salespeople before one takes you seriously on the fixtures. (In case you’re wondering, no, those aluminum iPhone docks at the Apple Store are not for sale.)

  42. almk says:

    I was actually mentioned in this story, and I can’t believe people around here have so much hate for haggling. I don’t think what you guys are describing is what happened in my case. We found a better price online and at another store. But, we wanted to patronize another store AND they had a better warranty. So, they offered to match prices. Is this haggling?

    Also, none of you have EVER haggled on a car price?

  43. spanky says:

    @Id_LQQK: I’m honestly not sure what you’re so defensive about. And I never said haggling makes me squeamish. I don’t enjoy it, but I’m capable of it when it’s called for.

    And I’m having a hard time believing that you really think that your individual haggling has any real effect on standard pricing. For most products, barring price fixing or something, plain old vanilla supply and demand takes care of that.

    My objection to haggling for standard, off the shelf products is that it results in different pricing for different customers; and I try to avoid businesses that do that on a regular basis–again, whether I benefit from the discounts or not.

    Some of this is inevitable and unavoidable, of course, as I mentioned. But say you’re OK with stores giving discounts for customers who have certain nebulous charms or negotiating skills. How are those quantified, and how are they applied? Should pretty girls get better discounts than ugly ones? Should women get better discounts than men? What about discounts based on class distinctions? Age? Race? Religion?

    Thing is, without a uniform pricing structure, people do get discounts based on those criteria and others. And the flip side of some people paying less is that other people are paying more.

    If I know that a store is regularly charging people different prices for the same products, I avoid those places whenever I can. So feel free to list the stores you’ve successfully negotiated lower prices at, and I will avoid them.

  44. CStogdill says:

    I was a retail manager for a number of years and I didn’t mind some haggling….as long as the customer wasn’t an asshole.

    My store had a great policy where if the item went on sale within 90 days the customer could get a refund for the difference.

    If someone asked I’d give them the 90 day low price. Usually though, the customer would have the item loaded up and in their cart, sometimes even in the checkout line before they’d ask for some outrageous discount.

    Not going to happen dumbass. If you’ve gotten that far you’ve already decided to purchase the item, so anything I give you just comes off my bottom line. Also, the discounts being asked for usually cut into my costs…..I’m not going to sell anything for a loss if I can help it.

    Most large retailers have arrangements with their suppliers to return damaged product and many times it’s easier to return the item to sell for a loss.

  45. missdona says:

    @sam: Totally. 15 years PC Richards gave me a lower price on a microwave for just being nice to them.

  46. goodkitty says:

    It doesn’t always work. When I went to buy a TV from Circuit City, I went in knowing that Fry’s had several models on sale. When I told the salesman that I wanted to buy a TV from them and not Frys (truth), and even after verifying that Frys did indeed beat them price-wise, they didn’t really seem to care. Yes, they did knock down their already “sale” prices but they would not even get near the Fry’s price. I even wanted to buy high-markup accessories, which they couldn’t even be bothered to keep in stock. No sale. Sorry.

    I then went to Best Buy (hey, my selections here are limited) to look for TV stands. I found only one I liked, which was a last-remaining floor model without a price tag. The droids couldn’t even give me a price, telling me to come back later to talk to their floor manager, who of course had already gone home. No sale. Sorry.

    Of course, I go out of my way to tell everyone where to get good deals on TVs, and it ain’t Circuit City, so they also lost several referrals.

    (BTW: What a great picture. I’ve forgotten what stores looked like before the advent of flat-panel digital TV’s.)

  47. ChuckECheese says:

    I just gotta put my 2¢ in. In esta border town, there’s this strange retail behavior that mystified me for awhile, that occurs at the checkout. While the cashier is checking somebody’s merchandise, the shopper will suddenly begin some odd discussion about something purchased. The customer’ll want to talk about the prices at this store vs someplace else, or they will argue whether this is indeed the product the scanner says it is, or some other random issue related to the merchandise. This may be repeated for multiple items by the same customer. It pains my efficient German sensibilities when these at times lengthy discussions go on while six people are waiting for that same cashier. I realized one day that this behavior is a replacement for haggling. I don’t want a haggling economy–it takes too long.

  48. @goodkitty: At the Best Buy I worked at, we could only sell floor models if the item was discontinued or no longer stocked. If that was the case, than the peons were incompetent or lying. Since there’s always a manager in the store, I lean towards lying.

    If it was just out of stock, think of the kid that has to assemble that stand, again, when they get more. Oh the agony!

  49. dweebster says:

    Shame, shame.

    Haggling is unamerican.

    When I go to buy a car I just look at the price on the window and pay it. I also pay whatever the kind salesman tells me that the “destination charge” and “undersoating” and “dealer profit” and whatever is supposed to be.

    If you aren’t prepared to pay whatever price any store puts on what they want to sell, then you are a cheap bastard tiny kitten-killing idiot that doesn’t deserve to shop at such pristine locations for your chinese-made trinkets.

    Think of the children!!!

  50. dweebster says:

    @forgottenpassword: and THAT’s reason #1,783 to avoid “Best” Buy.

  51. GizmoBub says:

    I’ve done my share of haggling with the major stores, or at least attempted to haggle with them. Being a big fan of J&R and B&H I always check their prices before going shopping. Since they’re not nearly as close as the other chain stores I will generally print out the items and bring them with me. Without fail the sales associates just stare back at me vacantly and say that the price matching policy only goes for major chain stores, not local ones. Most of the time I’ll argue with them for a while, then ask them questions about the products that they should but invariably don’t know the answers to and leave unsatisfied only to go to B&H and have them be more than happy to haggle on the price (assuming that there are even any prices lower than theirs).

  52. dweebster says:

    @nardo218: This reminds me of the “sale” that CompUSAs just went out with. The liquidator apparently went through and put prices up to or past full MSRP and then started with 5% or 10% off. Even the demo units and the broken stuff. It was such a joke, I visited several times just to see how ridiculous they could be. But miraculously the cashiers were working and stuff was disappearing off the floors even though their non-returnable stuff kept selling at a 30-60% premium over NewEgg, Amazon, Buy.com and other places.

    I guess I just don’t get the American mindset – so brainwashed that if they see a price written on a sign then that is the price they pay without argument – believing they are getting a deal even when they are really selling out their return rights for little to no discount over an open store down the street. People were actually looking at AND PURCHASING older model out-of-box “demo” laptops that had been marked up to MSRP or above and then “discounted” by 5%. I found a couple things that were of mild interest if prices met some level of reality, but the written price was “non-negotiable” so I just laughed and moved on.

    Competing with the stupidity of buying at full retail with no guarantee was no match for my senses – in several trips I finally found ONE thing that was a mild deal and bought it just for fun. But the visits there did give me much deeper insight into how gullible the Americans are about what authority tells them is “real.” Baaaaaaaa baaaaaaaa.

  53. legerdemain says:

    When I worked at Circuit City, I’d estimate that more big screen televisions left with a markdown than without. I actually got kudos for seldom asking for markdowns from the manager.

    High-end televisions 32″ and larger, and all televisions 42″ and larger (save loss leader or ADV items) tend to have high margins. High-end audio tends to have high margins. These items can be marked down. Managers seldom think twice about making a largish purchase zero-interest – never pay interest on a big box store card, especially when it’s one of the easiest things to get.

    Cables and warranties don’t get markdowns. It simply isn’t done. There are tight quotas on these items, and if they marked them down, it’d look like cheating.

    Computer equipment has little margin, so you shouldn’t expect much of a markdown.

    Decide what you’re buying before you ask for special consideration on the price. Managers often look at the margin on a whole deal to pick a markdown amount, and you want them to see cables and warranties when asking for an adjustment on your main purchase.

  54. ElizabethD says:

    One category where I’ve successfully haggled, or at least asked for a lower price, for decades is that of very slightly soiled (a dirt stain on one sleeve, for example) or damaged (a missing button) apparel.

    You have to get the manager or department manager to do this, but it can be worth it. The store doesn’t have to waste time declaring the garment a loss, and you can get some bucks knocked off the price and then go home and sew on a button or whatever. I learned this from my mom back in the “Leave it to Beaver” era. She was a tough shopper!

  55. @dweebster: Every time you haggle, God kills a kitten?

  56. abofh says:

    So I used to work retail and never felt this pressure. My question is purely conjecture.

    Will wages, or the pressure to hold a job, ever require (or “economically suggest”) that a retail agent should comp you the difference for a price that is negotiated?

    Will that put the sales person on the hook, if for example, you don’t pay, but they paid out of pocket on the expectation on a commission that they don’t collect?

    Now surely if the agent is greedy no pity is needed, but what if they’re just trying to make ends meet, or make them meet a little better. Offered you a short-term discount in order to secure their long term gain?

    Is that a real concern for anyone? Or just an imaginary one?

  57. @spanky: “How are those quantified, and how are they applied? Should pretty girls get better discounts than ugly ones? Should women get better discounts than men? What about discounts based on class distinctions? Age? Race? Religion? Thing is, without a uniform pricing structure, people do get discounts based on those criteria and others.”

    But people already get discounts on those criteria, even with the allegedly uniform pricing structure. I once got a half-price oil change because the counter clerk wanted to get in my pants and gave me the, and I quote, “pretty girl discount.” And added, “I can’t believe they forgot to put that on there in the first place!” (Insert your own Jiffy Lube jokes here. And then insert your own “insert” jokes here.)

    I’m not an economics person, but if prices were set based on actual business needs and actual market conditions, rather than “inflate for highest profit,” wouldn’t there actually be LESS room to make deals based on the “pretty girl discount”? Most of the places where I haggle I get discounts because I’m a good customer who refers other customers — that’s a business decision, not a discount because the way I look (that was the only pretty-girl discount I ever got) or my sparkling personality. When I give discounts to clients, it’s not because of what they look like, it’s because in my estimation, in this particular case cutting my rates will be better for my business in the long run and/or it’s the right thing to do.

  58. Trojan69 says:

    The key is to be armed with legitimate information. If I walk into a store and the salespeople know they are dealing with a dude who knows what he is talking about, they are willing to talk. So long as apples are being compared to apples, the store will give.

    If you happen to know the actual cost to the retailer, like if you get a Consumer reports printout on a new car, the only argument is whether to give the dealer more, or less, than a 3% mark-up. If y’all are willing to take a car off the dealer’s lot, you have the additional leverage of saving them a ton of interest cost. Ask how long it has been sitting there. If it’s been more than a month, the dealer will almost surely sell it to you for his cost – anything to stop paying interest on that car sitting there.

  59. b_rent says:

    Well, coming from a starving college student that worked RadioShack’s base pay of minimum wage, my commission was something I was not about to just give away to anybody. But as it was, I very rarely ever had anyone try haggle a price, and 90% of those were on the floor models. And the funny thing is, the ones that wanted to haggle were the ones that asked me questions about their home theatre set-up for 45 minutes, while my co-worker has made 10 sales in the same amount of time. So, no, consider paying the full price compensation for my knowledge (oh, and being a loyal customer is cool too).

    Another thing about my experience with hagglers, they were already sold! I literally only had 2 or 3 customers walk out when I wouldn’t budge on a price. They would ask if I could lower a price and I would reply politely but sternly (that was key, especially me being 18, I couldn’t let people doubt that I didn’t know what I was doing) that regrettably I could not. “Oh shucks,” and we were on our way to the register. Even with floor models, I would explain that I all could give them was the extended “open-box” warranty and most people were satisfied.

    Granted, 60% of our customers were over the age of 50 due to our location, so all I had to do was prove that a “young buck” like myself could provide some courteous, knowledgeable customer service with a big ol’ smile and they were sold. (And no, I did not con elderly people into buying 90$ monster hdmi cables, I felt bad enough selling them the 40$ shack brand)

  60. catnapped says:

    Several of the morning trash news shows have jumped on this and claim you can try this practically everywhere (yeah right). I can just envision people coming back to post that either security at the big box store booted their asses out on to the street or they found their utility(s) cut off (when they insist they deserve a better price).

  61. TPS Reporter says:

    I know the article isn’t about cars but when I bought my truck in 2003 I got the dealer to go from $13485 down to $8950 with a brand new set of tires. It was used but had been on their lot for about 3 months. I didn’t act like a jerk, I just basically kept my mouth shut while the sales manager kept coming down in price. It didn’t hurt that I was preapproved from my bank for $43k. I could have bought anything new or used pretty much on their lot. Sometimes haggling can be just keeping your mouth shut and letting the sales guy guess as to what you are thinking.

  62. spanky says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: As I said, I know that people get discounts based on those things. I’ve gotten the ‘pretty girl’ discount, the regular customer discount, and things like that myself; and I’ve seen lots of people get race based discounts and/or service upgrades, too. I don’t mind regular customer discounts, combo or volume discounts, or things like that, but I don’t like race, sex, or appearance discounts. Apart from being sort of creepy, they’re just not fair. But there’s no good way to prohibit the kind I don’t like while still allowing what I consider legitimate uses, so I wouldn’t advocate a big official crackdown. I just don’t go back to places that regularly engage in practices I consider hinky, regardless of which side of the hinkiness I’m on.

    That’s why I say there’s a fine line. I think it’s a good thing to empower employees to make decisions. In a coffee shop or something, giving employees the power to toss someone a free coffee every now and again can be great for morale and for business without feeling that they have to explain their reasoning, and the inevitable inequities are a fairly small issue. And you offering your services at a discount for deserving clients is perfectly understandable, acceptable, and even inevitable. Hell, I charge annoying clients more, and I give fun projects and pleasant clients discounts on my services, too.

    What worries me is when a store is routinely charging different customers different prices, especially for big ticket items. Whether it’s conscious or not, those uneven pricing structures will always skew for race, sex, appearance, etc., and when it’s happening regularly, it can add up to serious inequity.

  63. rmz says:

    Know when and where to haggle.

    Haggling at an auto dealership or an appliance showroom? Sure.

    Haggling with a minimum-wage clerk at the video store? No.

  64. Krowa003 says:

    One time I needed to buy two pipes for smoking ganja, and each one was selling for $35. I threatened to go to another smoke shop – a competitor – and the sales person sold me both pipes for $40.

    It’s good to haggle.

  65. knyghtryda says:

    Americans (and i consider my self definitely american even though I was not born in the country) really don’t know the first thing about haggling. Unless you’ve lived in asia or europe, you really haven’t had to do real hardcore back and forth haggling for your goods. I’ve seen shops cut prices 75% or more based on the skill of the person. The fact that the price are so inflated in the first place means that there are definitely suckers who pay it.
    The best way to keep the haggle going for me is to be really interested in the product. No one wants to waste time on window shoppers, so if you can let them know that a) You want to buy and b) you won’t take any BS then it gives the seller more incentive as they know at the end of it they’ll have a definite sale. With cars, that means cash (or loan) in hand, edmunds/bluebook prices at the ready, and bottled water and snacks for the long haul that is the auto buying process. I’ve seen people walk into a dealership totally unprepared and while I didn’t stick around to watch the aftermath, it looked like they were gonna get completely taken simply because they don’t know where they stand in the whole process.
    Finally, In order to haggle well you really have to enjoy the process, and play it like any game. You’ll lose more often then you’ll win, but hey, a loss just means you walk out and you didn’t pay anything.

  66. battra92 says:

    I had a friend who owned an elctronics store which was a Panasonic dealership. Since my brother and I gave him a lot of business and to keep in Panasonic’s good graces to order and move as much as possible he would custom order anything I wanted (so long as it was Panasonic) for whatever it was selling for the cheapest (and he was making a profit of course)

    I feel bad he retired. I much prefer doing business like that with a local guy you know over the chain store. I refuse to haggle with a salesman or be an ass about it.

    Of course, if it’s a car, well you’re expected to haggle.

  67. Anonymous says:

    I work at Radio Shack and frankly haggling is just annoying. I can’t give anyone a discount on the set price of any of our items. I don’t know how it works at Best Buy or Circuit City, but the only person who can adjust the price of an item we sell is the manager of the store. The rest of us could be fired for giving out special discounts.

    But, if you get a helpful employee at a Radio Shack the best thing to do is ask what they think is the best deal. They usually know the product and if they’re honest they’ll usually tell you whether or not you should waste your money on a certain product or whether it’s a good deal or not.

    For instance, yesterday a gentleman came in to buy a $99 GPS we advertised but we were out. I told him there was a store a few blocks away that had plenty in stock. Then I told him that we had an unadvertised deal on a Sony GPS with similar specs for only $79 (original retail $249.99). He asked me which was the better deal and I told him that I’d save the $20 and take the Sony, which has good reviews and is only discounted because it’s sales are poor compared to Garmina and TomTom.

  68. Anonymous says:

    I own a small shoe store, I price our stock less than the “mall/big box” stores by a few bucks. HOWEVER, I pay more for my products because I can’t buy in the same quantities.

    Contrary to what these articles say, go try and buy a pair of Reef flip flops @ Macys and demand a 25% discount. See what happens. I tried it yesterday (w/o the “demand part”) just to make sure. Sorry, but no, was the answer. But yet people think the small guy HAS TO! Macy’s won’t special order for you (yes, that costs extra for me too) nor do they have signs saying Military discount. IMHO, iIf you have to bargain for a $40 sandal, please reconsider whether you can really afford it instead. Payless is out there as is Walmart both are s a viable option. I cannot tell you the number of people who park their Land Rovers, Hummers or Expeditions in front & come in crying poor & want us to help pay for their gas. I have sales on some styles up to 40% off, yet this is still not enough. I’m not making more than $6 on these, not counting shipping I paid to get them there!

    So, in closing, sure haggling @ car lots, hotels, etc. makes perfect sense. But by doing it continually to small businesses you will only end up w/us closing. Will you be happy with only Payless or Walmart or Macy’s, etc? I hope so because the small boutique that carries those cute shoes, dresses or stylish shirts & shorts that you prefer won’t last. And once the economy is back up and running strong, you’ll end up buying those things @ Nordstrom for more than ever because haggling put their competitors out of business.