All the time, people have questions on how its done. Do you haggle? What situation is appropriate for haggling? The answers to the above are: yes, I do and 'almost any buyer/seller situation'.
So, what is haggling?
Haggling is to bargain, or to wrangle, a price down to a level acceptable by two (or more) parties. This can be done aggressively, in some marketplace settings, or gently – depending on the merchant and the buyer. People can haggle over anything - goods or services, for items in good condition or slightly damaged.
It helps to have a small amount of confidence, a definite idea of what your limits are in terms of price and the ability to walk away if you don't get what you want.
Let's get started!
Americans don’t usually haggle in most markets, like retail. In fact, in a lot of retail settings consumers consider it bad manners to negotiate a stated retail price. However, what they don't realise is that (with the exception of extremely high-end sellers, and sometimes even then!) salespeople don't consider it bad manners, and if they do you can be assured a competitor won't!
I have successfully haggled down damaged merchandise in a retail setting (trainers with a spot on them, a blouse missing a button, etc). Most managers know Americans won’t haggle, so they don’t mind haggling with those who ask. It’s more about customer service on that front, than about true negotiation.
Also, if you get three quotes, for say, furnace work, you can haggle those companies down, too. "How?", you ask. Well, usually you can eliminate one bid as too high. Tell the other two companies its between them and you'll almost always see the one who wants the job more drop the bid even further. Try it out sometime, I suspect you'll be pleased with the results.
But, in most parts of the world, haggling is definitely desirable, even expected. And in other, black or independent markets in America, like flea markets, consignment shops and bartering groups, it is also a common, acceptable practice.
So, why don’t more Americans haggle?
Well, the simple answer is, it’s not in our cultural repertoire. (But maybe it should be?) We tend to view the retail market as a combination of status and the sacred. Whereas frugal individuals such as myself will wince at retail prices, many Americans proudly state how much they were fleeced for. lol Probably because they could afford to pay that, and they believe that says something about their work ethic, social status and character. To me it says, "That handbag’s seam was crooked – Coach or not – they should have haggled the price down. What a rip!"
Some of the things I have successfully haggled on in my life are cars and appliances. I generally buy cars private sale. So, from experience I know that unless the seller states on the advert they will not accept negotiation, the car’s price is up for a haggle. Many times I have brought a certain amount of cash to a car sale, an amount below the asking price, and simply offered what I had as cash in pocket to buy the vehicle. On three separate occasions, my offer was accepted because the transaction was quick and the money was guaranteed (whereas with a check they have to wait, etc). Even brand new cars are up for being haggled over – car salesmen expect that and work with you on price all the time.
Appliances are often 'haggle-able', too. Especially if you can note a small dent or chip that is merely cosmetic. I once bought a dryer, virtually brand new, for $75 that way, just by pointing out a ding on the side that no one would ever see. What that communicated to the salesperson is, "I'm willing, but I need convincing. Let's make a deal." From there, we worked it out.
So, if we do it for large items like cars, why not small items like clothes, vacuum cleaners or even trainers?
Again, I think it’s a mentality. We need to get around it. After all, we are a consumer-based society, for better or worse, and definitely a capitalist society. They want your money, probably more than you want to part with it. Lol So, let them help you spend it, as the link above advises.
I agree with the link above – never be super attached to what you’re buying. (I think that’s good common sense in any situation, but it is critical in haggling). Believe me, salespeople can smell a desperate sucker coming their way and in some cases will jack up a price specifically because they know (a) the item has some demand and (b) you don’t intend to walk away without it. If you can keep your cool, and not care, you stand a much better chance of getting what you want at a substantially reduced price.
The good news? With the economic in bad shape, haggling is coming back into style. And I agree with the philosophy "if you don’t ask, you don’t get." It’s a virtual certainty. The worst the seller can say is 'no thanks' or 'the price is fixed.' Then, you can make a decision based on that information, or even decide to spend your money elsewhere.