Negotiate everything

Get the price you want by making a deal.



From the February 2009 issue of the magazine.


Is haggling really worth it? You bet. A 2007 study by Consumer Reports magazine found that 90% of people who tried to get a deal on furniture, electronics and appliances succeeded, scoring an average discount of $50. Get the price you want by following these haggling tips:

Don’t be ashamed. Most people don’t haggle because they think it’s rude, says Deborah Kolb, the Boston-based author of Everyday Negotiation. It doesn’t have to be that way. A quiet, polite question—“Is that the best you can do?” or “Can you come down a bit on that?”—often produces big savings.

Be a store detective. Look for signs a store is willing to discount. For instance, if an appliance display is under renovation, the store manager is probably eager to get rid of floor models. Another smart strategy is to look for an item that has a dent on it and point out the flaw to a salesman. He should offer a discount.

Leave room for a counter-offer. “Novice hagglers ask for too much off, like 50% and say they’ll only buy it at that price,” says Kolb. It’s better to be strategic. If your goal is to get 15% off, start by asking for 30% and indicate you’re ready to dicker.

Be ready for “no.” A common mistake is to have no response ready if your request for a discount gets turned down. You can always walk away, but Kolb’s solution is to ask for add-ons instead of a discount. If you’re buying a new bed, ask for the night table as a free extra. On a stove, ask for free delivery or a four-year warranty instead of two years. “These things don’t cost the store a lot, but add up to big savings for you,” Kolb says.

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