Not everyone is comfortable with asking for a better deal or for a lower rate—for a fee or penalty to be waived. It’s a process known as bargaining or “haggling.”
According to The Many Benefits of Online Haggling, 69 percent of the online shoppers who tried to negotiate a better deal on a TV, computer, or other electronic product were rewarded with a price reduction.
Take Amazon for example. Negotiating via live chat is the ideal way to haggle online, provided you can track down a rep. (Here’s where you start.) Hint: Amazon reps are willing to price match, discount shipping costs and even grant refunds if a product doesn’t live up to your expectations. You can even ask for a better price.
Haggling online offers a certain sense of anonymity we don’t enjoy when face-to-face in a store. It feels safer. And it’s a great place to practice your haggling skills. And always ask for more than you’re willing to accept. That way everyone walks away a winner.
Once you’ve logged in and put something in your shopping cart, find a place on the site to chat with a live agent (for Amazon, see above). Then kindly ask for a coupon code or discount.
Say that you really like [the item in your shopping cart] but hope he or she can do something to help you out on the price. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done this, only to be rewarded with a code I wasn’t aware of or a personal discount of at least 10 percent.
Generally, here are six ways to get a better deal on anything:
1. Have a script handy
Plan ahead. Know what you want, how you will ask for it, and how you will respond. Write out your opener so you can relax and get right to the point, courteously.
If you’re asking about an overdraft fee you’ve asked the bank to waive, without success, you could say something like, “I’ve been a customer since 2008, and I’d hate to leave because of a $20 fee.”
Right there, statistically, you have a 70 percent chance of getting it waived.
2. Someone with authority
It’s pointless to negotiate with someone who doesn’t have the authority to cut you a deal. That’s why you want to go higher up on the corporate ladder to a supervisor or manager when asking for a discount. That may or may not be the first person you contact.
More and more, major retailers are empowering their front-line employees to keep you happy with the authority to cut you a better deal. Even Walmart sales clerks are authorized to give on-the-spot discounts up to 10 percent, especially if an item is scratched, missing a button or in some other way damaged. These days competition is keen and retailers want your business.
3. Consider your timing
When dealing face-to-face, make sure you plan this encounter. Put yourself in the shoes of the person who will take your call. If it’s Monday morning, you might want to hold up. You don’t want to start out with a crabby customer service rep.
Think about when that salesperson or customer service rep might be anxious to wrap things up, like at the end of the week—especially on a Friday before a three-day weekend.
4. Do your homework
Asking for a deal is great, but if you have some ammunition to back you up, even better. Know the market, know your prices. Be ready with the facts of an offer you’ve heard this company offering on the radio or perhaps you’ve received already.
SiriusXM internet radio is notorious for offering the public super deals, like $5 a month But they expect you to renew your service at full price? Tell the rep you’d love to get the deal they’re offering your friends and neighbors. Then stick to your guns.
Know what alternatives are out there for their product or service. The more choice you have, the more likely you can get a break on the price.
Typically, store managers have authority to give discounts of 10 to 15 percent on large purchases to keep a customer from walking out of the store. They know that once you leave, the chances that you will come back are slim.
5. Think seasonally
Think fall for a moment. That’s is a terrific time to get a deal on landscape and garden stuff because the nurseries are closing up to make room for pumpkins. Merchants just want to be rid of what’s left and needs to be gone to make room for the next season’s merchandise.
Apply this principle to all kinds of situations to improve your haggling skills.
6. Be ready to walk away
Here’s the secret of successful haggling: He who’s most willing to walk away from the deal has all the power. That is the person who is least motivated. If you absolutely have to buy something, the seller (retailer) has all the power. If you don’t, then you have the power.
The simple act of calmly and slowly closing (never slamming) a notebook, laptop, briefcase, purse—or standing up as if you are leaving—is one of the most powerful tools a negotiator has. Without saying a word, allowing your body language to speak for you, you allow the other party to fear that you may not continue.
It’s super easy to walk away from an online haggling session. Just make sure you have logged into that site before you started the chat. Now you can leave, but they have your contact information. They can see you left something in your shopping cart and they know how to contact you.