5 places it’s entirely ok to haggle on price

Haggling, bargaining, negotiating - whatever term you prefer, the art of striking a great deal might seem like something you only do on holiday - but it’s not. Want lower prices? Learn how to haggle effectively right here in Australia.

By Carolyn Tate

What Aussie doesn’t love discovering a bargain?

While haggling might seem like an antiquated practice in some modern retail settings, there are still plenty of places where it's not only acceptable to haggle; it’s expected.

How to haggle

Haggling effectively requires a combination of confidence (real or projected - more on that in a moment), research, and strategy, which might sound intimidating, but let’s break it down.

Start by researching the market value of the item you're interested in, so you have a clear understanding of its worth. Set a maximum price in your mind and be prepared to walk away if the seller isn't willing to meet your terms.

CHOICE advises you start with a good opening line, such as, “Is this your best price?”

Other tips they offer to help during your negotiation process include:

●  Be polite and courteous, always

●  Be aware of body language (look interested but not too eager)

●  Get your timing right (the end of the day/month/financial year could mean a salesperson has targets they’re keen to meet).

How to get over your fear of haggling

Do you find the thought of haggling scary or intimidating? Many people worry that they’ll seem aggressive or annoying, but a Columbia University study found that most people overestimate how aggressive they seem when they’re trying to negotiate.

One tip that can help you to start the conversation is to think about the seller’s perspective. What would be a good reason for them to want to give you a deal?

“If you frame the negotiation as adversarial, you will ensure it becomes adversarial,” corporate negotiation expert Jeff Weiss told Harvard Business Review. “Instead, approach it as an act of joint problem-solving: What are the critical issues at hand, what are my interests and their interests, and what are some different possible options for satisfying those various interests?

“Negotiation isn’t about conceding, it’s about being creative.”

It can also help to practise your new skill when the stakes are low. Before you ask for a lower price on a new car, perhaps ask your phone provider if they can offer a better deal.

So where should you haggle? Let’s take a look at 5 prime opportunities, where you can save a significant amount of cash.

1. Car yards

When you approach most car yards, you’ll see an expansive lot adorned with gleaming vehicles of all shapes and sizes, all with large price tag stickers attached to their windscreens. But that sticker price isn't always set in stone. Car dealers often have some wiggle room to accommodate negotiations, especially if you come armed with research, you have your finance sorted out, you have a car to trade in, and/or you’re willing to walk away if the deal isn't right.

2. Whitegoods stores

Need a new refrigerator or washing machine? Don't hesitate to flex your haggling muscles in whitegoods stores. With high markups on these big-ticket items, retailers are often open to negotiation, particularly if you're purchasing multiple appliances or you’re happy to go for a display model. It never hurts to ask for a discount, or to mention a better deal you’ve seen elsewhere. And if they won’t take anything off the price, you can always ask them to throw in some complimentary installation services or added extras to sweeten the deal.

3. Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, and other online markets

Haggling isn't just confined to retail interactions. Online marketplaces like Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree provide opportunities to negotiate prices with individual sellers. Whether you're browsing for second-hand furniture, electronics, or clothing, don't be afraid to make an offer below the listed price. Just remember to be courteous and respectful in your negotiations, and you might score a bargain without ever leaving the comfort of your home.

4. Banks and insurance companies

If you’re shopping around for a mortgage, or you’re refinancing, it can be a great time to see what offers are out there, and ask your current bank if they can match it. The same goes for insurance companies, and comparison websites like Compare the Market and Finder can be helpful in doing the research for you. Many banks and insurance firms count on your loyalty or unwillingness to do the work to change providers, but asking for a better deal can save you big bucks in the long term.

5. Computer stores

Technology products can fluctuate in terms of price, and retailers are often willing to negotiate to make a sale, especially when new technology is becoming available and their current stock threatens to be obsolete or out of date. Whether you're in the market for a new computer or smartphone, don't hesitate to ask about discounts, especially if you're purchasing accessories or bundling multiple items together. Also, keep an eye out for seasonal promotions and clearance sales, which can provide even more leverage for negotiation.

Where not to haggle

Finally, it’s also worth mentioning circumstances where haggling is probably not the best idea. Forget about haggling at the supermarket or bookstore, for example, or over other low-priced products.

It’s also not a great idea to try to talk down a small business owner, such as at a restaurant or convenience store - their margins are often tight as it is. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself: Is this saving really important to me? Let that answer be your guide.

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