Whilst haggling is seen as culturally acceptable elsewhere, it tends to be frowned upon in the UK. But the reality is, you can barter for most things here, and there’s no need for face-to-face interaction.
So if you’ve got patience, you could save pounds on everything from food to high-end tech. We’ve rounded up ten top tips to get the most out of haggling. Read on to learn how you can start getting those prices to drop today, from the comfort of your own home.
1 Speak to the right person
The first thing to do is to make sure you’re speaking to someone with the authority to reduce prices. Otherwise, you won’t get anywhere fast and could end up wasting your phone bill. The trick is to ask to speak to someone in management early on in the call, so you don’t spend lots of time repeating your query.
2 Do your research and come prepared
If you’ve seen a product advertised cheaper on a different website, you can potentially use that as leverage to haggle with your current provider (for example, your mobile phone or utilities company).
Whilst retailers may not advertise their willingness to match a competitor’s price, they may very well do so when asked. Often retailers would prefer to come to a compromise rather than lose your custom. So if you can prove how much cheaper it is elsewhere, you may be able to get a price reduction.
3 Be friendly and avoid aggression
The right person may have the ability to drop the price for you, but how you come across over the phone is just as crucial. Haggling isn’t the same as complaining, and you’re not automatically entitled to a lower price. Whether the company agrees to reduce the cost for you is up to their own discretion. So being angry about the price is unlikely to go down well in this situation.
Your choice of words is also important. You should always show interest and avoid appearing too keen. Money Saving Expert have a few stock phrases which they suggest using. For example, you could say the price is ‘above your budget’, or ‘my partner will be livid if they find out I’ve paid this much’.
Haggling is as much based on striking up a rapport as it is maximising your position. Building a connection could be the start of a great relationship where they’ll continue to offer you deals in the future.
4 Look for valid reasons to reduce the price
If you’ve haggled in the past, you’ll know that finding flaws in a product is a good way of securing a better deal. This goes for things you’ve ordered online that have turned up in a less-than-perfect state.
Be eagle-eyed and inspect for scuffs or chips, missing buttons or any damage which doesn’t prevent you from using the product. It’s important to remember that this won’t infringe on your standard consumer rights if anything goes wrong with the product in the future. For example, you might get a discount on a chipped tablet but this doesn’t stop you from returning it if it develops an unrelated defect at a later date.
5 Be prepared to walk away
If you’ve started negotiations with a set price in mind, and they’re unwilling to meet it, don’t be afraid to walk away. You can always try elsewhere. Another tactic is to use a break in talks to your advantage. By saying something like ‘I need to check with my partner and call you back later’, the retailer may change their mind about the price.
In addition, if you have an online retail account, you could log in and place some items into your basket, but don’t go through with the purchase. After abandoning your basket, the retailer, desperate for your money, may offer you a discount voucher code. This is risky during online sales periods though, as someone else might snaffle the goods in question. It won’t always work, but it’s nevertheless a good strategy to try from time to time.
6 Use online chatbots
It’s not just basket abandonments that work online, chatbots are also good tools to use and make haggling a lot easier. You can simply message a chat window or send an email, without the need for any face-to-face interaction. Remember, you can mention any problems you’re having getting discount codes to work online. The chances are they’ll want to do all they can to ensure the sale, and will authorise discount codes for you there and then.
7 Look for secret price codes
The price of an item can often give you a secret insight into how desperate a retailer is to shift the stock. Normally, prices end in 99p, 95p, or a rounded pound amount. So when you see items that end in 1, 7 or 8 it can be an indication of special pricing. This lets you know they want to get rid of their stock quickly, which should increase your chances of getting a further discount. And (whilst this isn’t strictly bartering), make sure you carry out an online search for discount codes whilst you're at it.
8 Know which retailers to target and time it right
Certain retailers are more open to haggling than others. Money Saving Expert researched the top high street stores to go for, with B&Q, Tesco, Homebase and John Lewis among the top household names in the study.
Independent and smaller retailers are traditionally a good bet. Shop owners should have the authority to make an instant decision, and if you’re a regular they may take that into account.
Timing is also important. Sales might be madcap in the beginning, but if there’s stock left over towards the end, retailers may be more open to bartering. Also, buying out of season products will more likely yield a positive response.
9 Silence is golden
Nobody likes an awkward silence. You should apply that logic to bartering too. Many salespeople are trained to leave people lingering, which increases the chances of you accepting their offer. Don’t give in, and if anything, let the silence work on your behalf. Remember they need the money more than you need their products.
10. Use an app
Honey is an app which plugs into your web browser and searches for extra discount codes. It then applies the codes before you make a purchase. This way you’re using the internet to do the haggling for you.
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