How to haggle like a pro

Shoppers follow these tips to walk away with more

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From the November 2015 issue of the magazine.

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You wouldn’t pay $100 for a new blender if you could get it for $75 instead. But most of us would never dream of asking the salesperson for that lower price. Here’s six tips for unleashing your inner negotiation ninja.

1. Know before you go

Do your homework and find out what competing stores are offering. The best news? There’s an app for that: Flipp, Reebee or FlyerFlo keep digital flyers at your fingertips. Just flash the relevant page and ask for the same 40% off deal as the store down the street. There’s nothing like haggling with solid numbers and evidence to back you up.

2. Be confident

Sales people instinctively smell fear so ditch any lingering embarrassment over brokering a cheaper deal. You’re asking for a price reduction on a necklace, not the salesperson’s right kidney. So relax, smile, make a few jokes (“What kind of a markdown is that, buddy?”) and enjoy yourself. The worst they can say is no.

3. Ask for the right person

Although there’s a trend, even in big box stores, towards empowering salespeople to call more shots, you’re probably better off working your way up the food chain. So if you’re getting nowhere with the kid wearing the “I’m new and I’m trying” nametag, call the manager or storeowner over and see what they’re willing to do for you.

4. Stick to the script

Take a page from telemarketers and use your own “escalation script.” That is, know what you’re going to say throughout the negotiations to shoot down any excuses lobbed your way. That cell phone salesperson won’t budge on an annoying $25 “courtesy fee?” Say, “Gee, that’s too bad. I’ve been a customer for 12 years. It would be a shame to take my business elsewhere over such a small amount.”

5. Avoid round numbers

Sounds weird, but your suggested buying price should never end in a zero. Studies reveal that offering a precise amount is more likely to work in your favour because it makes you appear to know the item’s true value. So offer $1,015 for that new washing machine instead of $1,000.

6. Stay in touch

Not every haggling showdown will go your way, but that doesn’t mean you have to declare defeat. Keep the negotiation lines open by writing down your phone number with the invitation to contact you if the item doesn’t sell or there’s a change of heart. And go out on a high note. If the last thing that manager hears is, “thanks anyway,” you could get that call before even reaching the car.

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