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September 12, 2021

Do you haggle whenever you can? Does your partner feel the same way?

To lots of people, haggling is awkward, uncomfortable and inappropriate – unless it pays off.

A recent Consumer Reports poll found that more than 48 per cent of consumers have tried to negotiate for a better deal in the past three years, and most of those (89 per cent) who haggled were successful at least once.

Thirty nine per cent negotiated better deals on appliances, 33 per cent reduced their cell phone bills, 27 per cent went home paying less for electronics and 43 per cent were successful getting discounts on and furniture.

Although these numbers are down slightly from a few years ago, haggling over price is no longer reserved for car lots and jewelry stores, you'll find people bargaining at major retailers like Home Depot or Best Buy, and even Costco.

Anyone who took Marketing 101 will tell you that the goal of marketing is never to give the customer two equal choices and have price become the point of differentiation ... but that's not your problem.

It's all about being willing to hear the word no, says Fred Gleeck, author of Negotiate Everything: How to Get the Absolute Best Deal on Any Product or Service You Buy.

Sometimes, stores or vendors refuse to budge on price, no matter how many people you ask or how creatively you attempt to haggle. When that happens, it's either walk away or settle for the set price, he says.

But you've got to try. If you want to snag a bargain, CR advises, be sure to:

Time your haggle. Late in the month, when salespeople are trying to meet their quotas, can be a good time to bargain for big-ticket items. Evening or early hours are usually less busy, so clerks have time to talk.

Avoid an audience. Haggle out of earshot of other customers. Sales clerks don’t want everyone else in the store asking for a deal too. Keep in mind that at chain stores, salespeople often don’t have the power to offer a discount -- look for a manager or supervisor instead.
Do your research. Check prices and store policies. Bring any emails, flyers, and newspaper ads with you to back up your claim, particularly if a local competitor is selling the item for less. The store might be willing to match your best quote. If you can’t get a price discount, ask for free shipping, delivery, or installation instead.

Be prepared to walk. The most persuasive weapon you have in your haggling arsenal is your ability to walk away and spend your money someplace else.

Tell us: How do you react when it comes driving a hard bargain? Are you and your partner on the same page here?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...