For some people, “never pay full price” is not just common sense, it’s a shopping mantra. These savvy consumers realize the listed price on an item isn’t always the real price, and they know that many businesses are willing to be flexible in order to make a sale or keep their customers happy. All you have to do is ask.
Yet unless they’re buying a house or a car, many people don’t bother to negotiate before making a purchase. Perhaps they don’t like confrontation, or maybe they worry that asking for a better deal will make them seem cheap. That’s a shame, because haggling works, and brushing up on your negotiating skills could mean saving hundreds of dollars every year. Almost 90% of people who’ve attempted to haggle over a price were successful at least some of the time, according to Consumer Reports.
Here are five times when engaging in a little friendly negotiation could save you a lot of money.
1. Electronics and appliances
As with many other major purchases, you can often negotiate a better deal on appliances and major electronics. Salespeople and managers at stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Best Buy are often empowered to offer you a discount, but you have to ask first. Ask whether they are able to match competitor’s prices, slash the price on a floor model, throw in extras like free delivery, or give you a deal if you bundle multiple purchases.
In some cases, you may even be able to negotiate a better deal without ever setting foot in a store. Greentoe.com lets consumers name their price on appliances, electronics, and other costly products. Retailers will either agree to your offer or respond with a counter-offer. Either way, you could save up to 20% off regular prices.
The average person pays $99 a month for cable, up nearly 40% from 2010. If your monthly bill has you wincing, it’s time to get on the phone and see if you can get a better price. Cable providers are often willing to offer you discounts in exchange for keeping you a customer, or they might offer to throw in extra channels or other perks. Simply calling and asking for a better deal might be enough to snag a deal, but coming armed with information about competitor’s offers is even more helpful, say experts.
“I think of it like buying a new car. You know the prices at different dealers so you can negotiate,” Dan Rayburn, a telecommunications industry analyst, told Marketwatch.
3. Credit card fees
As with the cable company, a call to your credit card issuer can lead to a lower interest rate, waived fees, extra rewards points, and other savings. A third of people surveyed by Consumer Reports said they’d negotiated bank or credit card fees, and 73% said they’d succeeded in having those fees lowered or dropped at least once. If you use a card frequently, banks may be especially eager to keep you happy (and keep your business).
“Consumers do not always realize they have that kind of power,” William McCracken, chief executive of Synergistics Research Corp., a market research firm, told CreditCards.com. “[If] you feel that you deserve a lower fee, call and ask. Many times, [you] will be pleasantly surprised.”
Mattress prices are almost always negotiable, and if you’re serious about buying a new bed, you should go into the store ready to haggle. Not only can you probably talk the salesperson down on price, but you may be able to score things like free delivery, a free frame or box spring, and free haul away of your old mattress.
“The advice I give people [shopping for a mattress] is to never ever pay whatever the retail price is, never pay that price. There’s so much markup in that industry,” Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman, an editor for Consumer Reports who monitors the mattress industry, told the Huffington Post. If you’re shopping at a big chain store, you may be able to knock as much as 50% off the original price, according to Lehrman.
The average wedding costs $31,213, according to The Knot. Part of the reason the cost is so steep is because of the “asymmetric information” problem – people who’ve never planned a wedding before have no idea how much catering, a venue, and a DJ should cost, and they may take a vendor’s initial quote as the final or only price.
Couples may not realize that deals may be available if their wedding happens off-season or on a less popular day of the week, or that a vendor may be able to remove items from a package or throw in extras if they really want your business. Offering to pay cash or the entire bill upfront (rather than just a deposit) may also entice a vendor to offer you a discount, according to GoBankingRates.
Follow Megan on Twitter @MeganE_CS
Want more great content like this? Sign up here to receive the best of Cheat Sheet delivered daily. No spam; just tailored content straight to your inbox.