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How to Haggle on Price

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 19 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Haggle Offer Price Market Haggling Car

For most of us, haggling is something that goes on in the markets, souks and bazaars of other countries. It’s something we might do when we’re on holiday there, just for the experience, but for the residents of these countries it’s a way of life, part of an ancient culture to try and get the most value for their money.

We’re used to paying the price on the sticker, whether it’s for a new TV or a tin of peas. It’s ingrained into our way of thinking. Even when we go to a market we pay the asking price. Yet when we attend a car boot sale or look at a new car, we’ll often ask “What’s the best you can do on that?” That’s haggling; it’s not entirely removed from our lives. So why don’t we haggle more?

When Can You Haggle?

In theory you can haggle over almost any price, anywhere. You could go into a department store and offer a lower price for a suit, for instance, or into an electronics store and make an offer below the sticker price on a new television set.

The chances are that your offer won’t be accepted, although if the particular line isn’t moving well or is being closed out, then the shop might well entertain a reasonable offer, although it would need to be approved by the manager. In other words, although you might receive an odd look from the salesperson, it could work – and for the sake of a few words you could save a little money.

However, you’re more likely to have success with smaller operations. Next time you go to the market and you’re considering buying a shirt or a packet of socks, trying asking the market trader if he’ll take an amount that’s lower than advertised - £8 instead of £10, for example. If he says £9, then you’ve still made a savings.

That’s haggling. It might not be the fine art it is elsewhere, but it can be a way to cut down on your expenditure and create, if you like, a little extra income from what you already have.

The same applies when you’re buying a car. It doesn’t matter if it’s new or old, the price is more a guideline than anything set in stone. Especially in tough economic times, the dealer wants to shift vehicles. That inventory costs money and means capital that’s tied up. Often they’ll be willing to accept a lower price just to make the sale, so you have the power. Don’t go too low; be reasonable and willing to make more than one offer and you might well find you have a deal.

When Can’t You Haggle?

There are obviously times when trying to haggle won’t do you a speck of good. Try to offer HMRC a lower amount for your taxes and you won’t be popular. The same applies to most of your monthly bills. But those are rates you’ve agreed to pay beforehand.No, you won’t get cheaper prices on petrol by asking, nor will it help you in the supermarket.

But if you approach the idea with some consideration, you’ll find it can work. Of course it seems quiet alien to British sensibilities, yet if you persist you’ll discover that it will become almost second nature, and you should find a small but significant savings over the course of a year. Retailers of all kinds might not like you – and they’ll certainly hope it doesn’t catch on, since they’ll make less and have to spend more time on each sale – but that’s not the point. You’ll be making the most of the money you have, and that’s what really counts.

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