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?
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(Photo: Getty)