It’s all about the art of the deal. Whether you call it haggling, bartering, or negotiating, it truly is an art form and one that’s worth learning as it can save you bundles of cash. Haggling is the process of convincing someone to sell you something for less than their original asking price. Everything is negotiable. Regardless of the tag, there’s no final price on something until cash changes hands. You can offer a different value, and the seller can choose whether or not to accept it. It’s as easy as that, and it never hurts to ask.
“She’s a real beauty, isn’t she?” said the man in the plaid sportscoat. A neon sign, with a couple of burned-out bulbs, flashes overhead, advertising used car sales. The young man kicked the tires, “Yeah, I like it, but it’s a little out of my price range. What’s the best you can do?”. “$10K, and that’s a steal. Get a load of those white-walled tires. It’s barely got 70,000 miles on it!” boasted the man. “Whoa! 10 grand? I was thinking more like $8K,” said the young man. “Please, this car is in mint condition, with AM/FM stereo and premium faux leather seats. At $10K, I’m practically giving it away.” said the salesman. The young man circled the car giving it a once over. “There are some dents back here on the fender.” He said. “Alright, alright, you seem like a nice kid, and the car does have some wear and tear, so I’ll do $9,500. Those are friend prices.”
The salesman said while adjusting his tie nervously. The customer replied, “$8,500? I have cash in hand”. “I can’t do $8,500. The boss will have my hide. I can do $9K.” said the salesman as he started to sweat. “$8,750, throw in the extended warranty and five free oil changes,” said the young man as he thumbed through a roll of cash in his hands. “Fine, fine! You drive a hard bargain, kid. You are a tough nut to crack and really know how to haggle. You’ve got yourself a deal.” “Deal.” said the young man. They shook hands and headed back towards the office.
Now we can haggle with anyone over anything in theory, but in reality, specific times, places, and people will allow us a greater chance of success. We should always haggle over big-ticket items like houses, automobiles, and anything involving a written sales contract. If you’re dealing with a commissioned salesperson, then you know that person has the authority or access to someone with authority to offer a better deal to close that sale.
We don’t do these deals daily, so we need other places to haggle to perfect our form. Independent sellers and markets are great places to haggle. Small business owners are often running their establishments. They know their margins and can choose to accept your deal on the spot or not. That doesn’t mean we can’t haggle with high-end retailers as well. You just need access to the decision maker, and they will often sweeten the deal to keep things flowing smoothly.
Knowing when to haggle is imperative. Wait until the store is quiet. No one wants to waste their time with you if there is a store full of customers willing to pay full price. Try to haggle for items when demand is falling, and sellers are trying to clear merchandise. The month or quarter end usually sees businesses willing to make deals to hit their financial objectives. Think seasonally. Picking up beachwear in the winter or that new snowboarding jacket in the summer is always a good play. Christmas items sell for pennies on the dollar by March. As you begin to haggle, it’s important to be friendly. No one wants to make a deal for someone who is rude or intimidating. We want to be confident but not confrontational. Ultimately, we want to charm the salesperson, so they find it difficult to say no.
Do your research, and if you want to haggle successfully, you need to know the market. What is this item worth, and what is everyone else selling it for? A lot of retailers expect this and allow for it in their policies. They call it a price match guarantee; some even guarantee that they’ll beat the lowest price to secure your business. Market research is easier than ever, and you can pull up the lowest prices on your smartphone and show them to the seller while haggling. Compare prices on Amazon or eBay. Brick-and-mortar stores all know they are competing with online retailers for your business.
Look for flaws that might reduce the selling price. Display items often show a little wear and tear, making them discountable. Used items almost certainly have flaws that deserve a reduced price.
Some strategies around haggling are to use the correct language and tone. Saying things like “Is that the best you can do, or all I have in my budget is X” can be good ways to haggle. Tell them you are thinking about making the purchase but aren’t quite sure. Don’t feel you have to close the gaps in conversation, either. Silence is a powerful tool, as the seller may give in just to end the awkwardness. Don’t be afraid to walk away if the deal isn’t right. You don’t want a bad deal, and sometimes the threat of leaving is what will finally seal a good deal.
There’s an art form to haggling; it can be a lot of fun if done correctly. Remember that cash is king; come armed with knowledge, and choose to haggle with the right person at the right time. Now get out there, unleash that charm offensive, and negotiate the next great deal.
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