Now Is A Good Time To Haggle Over A TV

Between weak holiday sales and the pending arrival of new models, this an excellent time to haggle with your local electronics store over the price of a new TV. In a normal year, prices dip before the holidays and again before the Super Bowl. This year, with the recession clamping down on bank accounts, nobody’s buying. With new models arriving soon, retailers just want to clear out their showroom space, meaning you can walk in and save a few hundred dollars on that dream set you’ve always wanted.

“Retailers and manufacturers will make every effort to move out the older models before the new ones arrive,” Gagnon said. “When there are new models out there, that’s what people want.”

In a normal year. A sparkling new TV, with the latest whiz-bang bells and whistles, is great fun to have. But given the uncertainty of the times, a bargain on last year’s gadgetry is just fine for many of us.

[...]

Although prices are good now, a major bargain might not last long, Gagnon said. That’s because when it comes to consumer pricing, the recession is a two-edged sword.

Prices remain good to help get rid of inventory. But the recession also means that inventory is thin and manufacturers and retailers are less able to offer blowout specials. “You’re not as likely to see the 0% financing promotions of years past,” Gagnon said.

Before heading out, read through our haggling tips to help land the best deal.

It’s prime time for buying a TV [The Los Angeles Times]
(Photo: Gilgongo)

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  1. supercereal says:

    It’s pretty much a good time to make any major purchase, whether it be a TV, car, house, etc. If you do some searching, you can find some fantastic deals out there, especially if you haggle.

    Of course, any good consumerist.com reader would already be in the market for these large ticket items, and not make their purchase on a whim because it’s “such a good deal.” :)

  2. Brontide says:

    Depending on the retailer signing up for their financing might help. Many of the sales people get kickbacks for signups and as long as you are not paying any financing fees in the deal it can lead to a motivated salesman. The same is true for extended warranty ( good idea for RP based DLP or LCD screens where one bulb replacement is more than the warranty ).

    • Rachacha says:

      @snowmoon: Just make sure that before you purchase the extended warranty that the replacement bulb is actually included under the warranty

  3. bohemian says:

    Haggling doesn’t really work with some of these big box stores. We need a new fridge but I doubt Lowes or Menards is going to haggle with us on the price. The employees just don’t have the ability to do so.

    • psm321 says:

      @bohemian: Sometimes they do, especially the department managers and especially on closeout products. I’ve gotten haggled deals on appliances at Lowes

    • LuzioFantazmic says:

      @bohemian: the managers at lowes can be haggles with. Last year I went to purchase a pellet stove. It was on sale for $850 marked down from $1200. A asked the manager of the dept if I could get an additional discount because the item I was looking at was a floor model. He knocked an additional $100 off the price.

      • noone1569 says:

        @LuzioFantazmic: Yep, I always shop for floor model or open box because the warranty is still there and 9/10 of the time you can get an additional discount besides the already marked down price. Some retailers give employees bonuses for selling these at any cost above X and X is typically 100 – 500 lower than the price on the item.

  4. Outrun1986 says:

    I don’t think its a good idea to advocate haggling at a big box retailer either, because it simply won’t work. Do you really think Walmart is going to give you an extra 10% off TV’s just because you asked? You also don’t want to piss off the salesman selling you that TV.

    Haggling at a yard sale, fine. Haggling at a big box retailer, no.

    If we consistently advocate haggling at retail it will become expected, and retailers will have to start raising their prices, and then you will have to do extra work to get that lowest price, instead of paying outright for your item.

    • SudsMN says:

      @Outrun1986:
      Big box retailers like Best Buy will definitely haggle. It’s silly not to. Why pay more when you can get it for less with a little haggling?

      • KillTheAcademy says:

        @SudsMN: because it’s fucking annoying. for the sales people and for everyone around you.

        • so_gracefully says:

          @KillTheAcademy: Yeah, that is definitely a good rule to live your life by. Thou shalt not fucking annoy others, especially salespeople and the other people at the store!! Forget what is best for you and your budget and your own life!

        • Hadoken3 says:

          @KillTheAcademy: That’s definitely the dumbest thing I’ve read on this blog for a while. Sales people intentionally rip off consumers everyday and are even taught how to by their superiors. Why should I feel bad about annoying a sales person about getting a discount. If you can’t give me the discount, fine, I’ll walk away and you don’t get the sale. If you work with me and don’t act like a scumbag, I’ll buy. That’s sounds like a pretty simple process to me.

    • mac-phisto says:

      @Outrun1986: i’ve had success haggling at big boxes. obviously, it won’t work on this year’s tv, but if you see a tv that’s been around for awhile, why not ask to speak to someone that might be authorized to strike a deal?

      keep in mind that moving inventory – even at cut-rate prices – can end up saving a company money in the long run, too. so haggling can actually help keep prices down.
      1) many retailers re-warehouse discontinued items that they can’t sell & use liquidators to move the merchandise at a fraction of the cost.
      2) inventory costs money. every product in the backroom is money that can’t be used to purchase other merchandise or pay-off debt. considering large retailers rely on high-volume supply orders to maintain their price edge, backed up inventory means reducing future orders (which equals higher cost per item) & short-term financing for already contracted orders (which means interest expense).
      3) before a discontinued model is removed from the sales floor, it is often offered at below-cost anyway – haggling is just expediting this process.

      the point is, haggling doesn’t hurt a retailer. if they decide to adjust their price or give you discounts on accessories when you approach them, it’s in their interest to do so. if they don’t see the benefit in it, so be it.

      i say haggle away.

    • supercereal says:

      @Outrun1986: I got just shy of $100 off my new Samsung TV at Circuit City about a year and a half ago. Just by asking…

      Many salesmen (not nearly all, I’m sure) would rather take a bit off of the price than lose a sale completely.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @Outrun1986: I just got $10 knocked off a computer desk/cart thing at Office Depot a couple weeks ago. Discontinued clearance floor model. They wanted to move it to make room for the new one models. I said I’d take it for $10 off, they said “sweet!”

      I’ve also gotten a TON of money knocked off my husband’s suits at Men’s Wearhouse, by asking and being willing to deal. I once got around $1100 of merchandise for about $700. (Since then I did a favor for the owner of the local one, so I don’t think my haggling there would count anymore. Plus I feel awkward haggling with someone I know.)

    • Traveshamockery says:

      @Outrun1986: You’re welcome to keep paying the asking price. The more profit they make, the more likely they are to give me a discount.

  5. Corporate-Shill says:

    For normal products, go ahead and haggle. You will pay more (in the long run) because I still need to pay employees, the rent etc and will need to charge you something extra just to keep the wolf away from the door.

    That said, haggling is fine for purchasing in bulk. Buying 1million widgets and my price schedule stops at 100,000 units then trying to negotiate the larger bulk quantity is reasonable…. not that there is much wiggle room on prices…. but give it a shot.

    Haggling is great for close out… if you are buying groups of close outs. Buy the TV stand with the last years model of TV is a lot better haggling weapon than just buying the TV.

  6. Chase Teschendorf says:

    I dare you… DARE YOU to go to a BestBuy, Staples, Office Max, Tweeter, or any other store that sells Computers, TVs, Appliances, etc. See a clearance tag or an open box item? Ask a manager to take 5-10% more off. You will prob. get it.

  7. Skaperen says:

    I’m not going to buy a new TV until they come with a built-in SD/SDHC/SDXC slot, and a USB port, with the ability to play all popular and standard video formats, record programs from in-the-clear channels (both digital and analog), as well as play music, photo albums, etc. Either flash stick or external hard drives should work in the USB port, as well as an external USB CD/DVD player/recorder. A few TVs are starting to do this (too few, and not all the features). The ability to play back a program while it is still being recorded (e.g. watching a 2 hour movie 1 hour late) is also desired. A plus would be a Firewire port that can operate with camcorders that use this, as well as hard drives that do Firewire.

    • Traveshamockery says:

      @Skaperen: See you in 2012 sometime.

    • Sorshha says:

      @Skaperen:

      A lot of televisions now have hdmi ports in the side for easy access to hd camcorders. Considering the movement to HD the chance that someone will be making a new model with firewire are slim to none.
      As for the other things you want…. There are internal memory in some televisions(suchas above the samsung 750 )… and some televisions also have internet connectivity. And the new sharp televisions have built in blue ray players =)

    • YOXIM says:

      @Skaperen: Oh man! I’ve got just the thing! [www.apple.com]

    • shepd says:

      @Skaperen:

      Feh, save the money on the TV and spend it on something inherently more upgradeable. This does all that and so much more. Best of all: It’s wife approved ™.

    • trujunglist says:

      @Skaperen:

      Considering that Apple, the main force behind firewire, is DROPPING firewire like hot pants, I’d say now is the time to reconsider your expectations.

  8. Tedsallis says:

    LOL, talk about late to the dance. The time to haggle was 2-3 weeks ago, as of today most of the TVs WORTH haggling over are sold through and have been replaced with all new models selling at MSRP of slightly below if on sale. If you are reading this now and htinking it’s time to make a deal, you are wrong. You missed it. Better luck next year.

  9. NotYou007 says:

    Recession or not. I will always haggle when it comes to price on a big ticket item unless it is something I really really really want and don’t care so much about the price. The I really want this and I don’t care how much it cost factor does apply sometimes to certain toys us adults enjoy but I always go in with the mindset that I can afford it at full retail but if I can get it cheaper, I will try. All they can say is no.

  10. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    I have a great TV, but added a great ’05 BMW to my driveway thanks to depressed prices!

  11. Megan Squier says:

    Negotiation usually works best at independent or small chain stores. I’ve been able to use it sparingly at big box stores when looking to purchase an already heavily reduced item that has some sort of a defect. I bought a really nice (real looking) 7 1/2 foot fake Christmas tree at Home Depot on New Year’s Day that had been already reduced from $200 down to $50 for $40 because it was a floor model and one strand of the lights didn’t work.

    I couldn’t determine right then and there if it was just a bad bulb or a dead strand so I haggled a bit. I later saw lights go on sale at Wal-Mart for 30 cents a strand (OMG!!!) I couldn’t help myself because they normally sell for about $3.00 and thus bought 10, along with a ton of other Christmas stuff they had at 90% off.

    I’ve had good luck negotiating at furniture stores for their floor models. I can usually get a store to knock off 10 to 20% on the already reduced price of the item. Typically, these stores knock floor model upholstered furniture down to 50% of regular retail anyway.

  12. Sorshha says:

    I am a rep for a television company, and i tell people the same thing. Right now all of the old models have dropped in price because of the new models coming out. The best thing to do when it comes to “bartering” is go to a commission based retailer. They have the most movement on prices. (That would include somewhere like 6th ave or PC Richards.. whatever is in your area) If you live near best buys and places that are purely hourly pay the only way to “barter” would be to price match another nearby retailer. But, that doesnt mean you arent getting a good price. Everything is very close to cost price when you buy a discontinued model.

    • NotYou007 says:

      @Sorshha:

      Most people don’t barter these days. We haggle over the price. I doubt Best Buy is going to allow me to sweep the floor if they give me a nice new HDTV in exchange for my sweeping services.

  13. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    Sorry, my television still works, I don’t need to waste money on a new one just because its “flatscreen” or “HD”.
    Because THEN, I’d have to pay some ungodly amount extra to get HD cable and.. yeah. Not saving any money there at all.

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      @Oranges w/ Cheese:

      No reason to waste a perfectly good TV if you have one. :)

      The only reason I bought a new flatscreen was because it was bigger, and I couldn’t see letterbox movies on my old one very well (I’m extremely nearsighted). I actually got a bigger one for less money because the CC guy steered me to a slightly lower resolution. At 37″, it doesn’t make much difference.

  14. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    I don’t like the idea of having to haggle every time I have to buy something.

  15. dreamsneverend says:

    I finally took the plunge and after comparing reviews/prices online and locally I grabbed a 50″ Panny 1080P plasma at Costco.. I didn’t feel the need to haggle since the Costco price was low enough to be within ~$50 of any of my favorite online stores even with their free shipping and no sales tax. The instant gratification was worth it.

    It’s even more impressive at home and my wife has already kicked me off the couch so she could watch some crappy Ashton Kutcher movie on HBOHD.

    It’s the only tv we use in our home and a huge upgrade over the old 27″ Sony CRT I’d had for 9 years.

  16. greatgoogly says:

    Weird if nobody is buying, check out Walmart they just jacked up the price on at least all there 32″ TVs anywhere from $20 to $50….

  17. majortom1029 says:

    I am going to wait for the samsung 32 inch led lit lcd tv’s. the 40 inch and above models came out. No sense to get an older model when they really dont exist with led backlighting for the smaller sizes.

  18. ceilingFANBOY says:

    It’s a good time to haggle, unless you come to our store while a certain manager is there. For some reason he keeps telling us we can’t sell displays for TVs that are discontinued and have no box stock left for 10%. Instead, he keeps telling us we have to wait until markdown money is sent to us so that the TVs get marked down and then we have to give an additional 10% off of the already reduced price.

  19. Customer_Service_Slave says:

    Odd, I’ve actually seen an INCREASE in the price of televisions since a couple of weeks after the super bowl. From my retail experience, yes you can haggle, and yes you probably will get it, HOWEVER it is only on clearance/open box items. In a big chain store a new unopened item will always be what the system says, no buts. If the item is discontinued, the system will have it’s own markdown. Be weary of open box items though. You will find a lot of good items, but several of them will have problems. People generally do not return things, especially large ones, that they did not intend to keep. They probably returned it because it either wasn’t worth the price (which another 10% off will not remedy, they didn’t like it because the quality was not good enough, or that the thing was defective in general.

    Companies simply do not have time to do a thorough analysis of returned items either. It’s not worth the main hours to test something thoroughly when the item is already going to be discounted 10%, and the customer has a very lenient return policy with it. The company will do a quick test, and if it works, it will be sent back for resale. Be weary of intermittent problems.

  20. darkryd says:

    Rule number one – never finance a TV.