July 12, 2013 at 7:58 AM ET
Hate to pay full price? Maybe you should try to negotiate a lower one.
Haggling doesn’t always work, but if you have the courage to give it a try, you might save some money or get something extra for your efforts.
Consumer Reports surveyed 2,000 shoppers and found that 89 percent of those who’d haggled for a better deal in the last few years did save money at least once.
“If you speak up, chances are you’ll be successful at getting something,” said Tod Marks, senior editor at Consumer Reports.
And the savings can be sizable. According to the magazine’s survey:
The survey showed women are not as comfortable with the process as men, so they tend to haggle a little bit less. But, when they do, they are just as successful.
In some cultures, customers are expected to haggle. Not in the U.S. The whole idea makes a lot of people feel uncomfortable.
More than a third (35 percent) of the shoppers surveyed by Consumer Reports said they absolutely refuse to do it.
“If you don’t haggle, you are leaving money on the table,” said Marks, a habitual haggler who bargains for almost everything. “You have nothing to lose, but your pride. And if they say no, you just move along to the next one.”
Some people can’t shop without haggling
Tyler Tervooren, a writer who lives in Portland, Ore., loves to haggle. It’s one of his favorite hobbies.
“The first few times you do it and you’re successful you see that the world is more negotiable than you previously thought and that is pretty empowering,” he said. “You’d be surprised at how often people are willing to work with you.”
Tervooren shared tips on haggling in a story he called How to Haggle Like Your Old Man. He noted that haggling has nothing to do with being cheap. He simply enjoys the process.
“Great negotiation is not at all about price – it’s about value,” he told me. “In fact, the further you get away from price, the more likely you are to succeed.”
In other words, your haggling may not result in a discount, but you might get free shipping, free installation or accessories thrown in at no cost.
“It’s all about looking at the end price you pay, once you add up all the things you need,” Tervooren explained.
How to be a better haggler
There are haggling tactics that vary depending on what you’re buying and what you’re trying to accomplish. But based on its survey, Consumer Reports found the most popular tactic for getting a discount was to check a competitor’s price.
It also pays to be polite. Savvy negotiators know to be nice and friendly and skip the tough-talk. Remember, no one owes you a discount. And be discreet, a salesperson may not want to offer you a lower price if others will hear about it.
Consumer Reports offers these six key tips to make your haggling more successful:
A footnote: After writing this column, I went to the mall to buy a new watch and I decided to see if I could get a lower price. Guess what? I did. I saved me $100. Now, that is empowering.
Have you had a successful experience haggling? If so, please share on Facebook.