Sunday, August 27, 2006

How To Get a Break in the Price of Practically Anything

Fun WSJ article on how to haggle:

Most people don't think twice about bargaining when it comes to something big, like a new car or home. But getting a price cut on smaller things -- cable bills, doctors' fees, electronics goods -- can be surprisingly easy: Just ask.

That goes against the grain for millions of Americans. Maybe our ancestors haggled at the dry-goods store. But today's big-box supermarkets, laser price scanners and uniformed checkout personnel present a barrier.

The good news is, in many situations, it's getting easier to ask for, and get, a price break. Increasingly, retailers and others are empowering rank-and-file employees to give discounts. At hotels, for example, most desk clerks can give 10% to 25% off the advertised rate, whereas a few years ago that might have required a discussion with the manager, says Rick Doble, a discount-advice writer and accomplished haggler.

From personal experience, I can tell you that is  true. And I no longer book travel or hotel without asking -- there usually is some promotion going on:

Pick your store, and your moment. Try small boutiques and family-owned businesses. Look for somebody who seems knowledgeable and comfortable in their job, not the high-school student who started last week. Go in when the store isn't busy -- a harried staffer has less time or inclination to negotiate.

Ease into it. Chat with the salesperson, and ask a lot about prices, so they can see that is a concern. Ask if they take an American Automobile Association discount, or a local discount card, even if you know they don't. After a few leading questions, it's possible a shopkeeper will simply volunteer 10% off.

Offer to pay in cash. Credit-card companies take 2% to 3% of the price in fees out of the merchant's pocket. At some stores, nicely asking whether you get a break for paying in cash can quickly get you 5% or 10% off -- more than the credit-card fees.

Make it easy for them to pull it off: Ask if it's possible for you to ride on the coattails of a "friends and family" discount, or employee discount.

Call your phone company, ISP and cable providers and say you're thinking about switching. Often, you'll immediately get transferred to the company's "retention" desk, where the staff is prepped with special offers designed to retain wavering customers.

Finally, assume there is a promotion going on. Mr. Doble, author of the book "Savvy Discounts," says he never checks into a hotel before asking, "Don't you have a special at this time of year?" Much of the time, the answer is "yes," he says. And after he has finished cutting a deal, he asks for an upgrade. And free breakfast.

Good stuff . . .


How Do You Get a Break in the Price Of Practically Anything? Easy, Just Ask
August 19, 2006; Page B1

Posted at 08:55 AM in Shopping | Permalink


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I believe in paying a fair price. I think a better suggestion would be to do the homework, be a knowledgeable consumer. If something is priced way beyond its value. Don't buy it. Find it somewhere else at an appropriate price. Don't lean on the clerk or harangue the manager for a few bucks. Its not worth it. Save yoursaelf the aggravation. Save everybody else in the store the aggravation. If you want to beg for a discount or try to weasel a couple bucks from a family business or a mom and pop store, go ahead. Just don't hold up the line to do it. And be ready for me to call you a cheap prick.

Posted by: mark | Aug 28, 2006 8:42:04 AM

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