How I Got Over My Haggling Hatred
I used to really hate haggling. That vain, self-conscious part of me that doesn't want to appear cheap, or worse, stingy, has always had an aversion to haggling. As I've gotten older, though, I've come to realize that it's a necessary evil, and who doesn't love a little bit of evil?
A few years ago, I briefly dated a young man from Kenya. Because he looked like a bit of a beach bum with his dreadlocks and baggy pants and silver earrings, he got away with bargaining in places that I wouldn't THINK of bargaining. Like electronics shops, or bakeries. The guy had no shame! He would never hesitate to ask for an additional 20% off of anything - and he almost always got at least 10% off. He was like a discount savvy pirate, and I HATED shopping with him because of it.
But I eventually saw the light. After living in China, where you bargain for EVERYTHING, from crisps to coats, I've found that bargaining has lost some of its stigma. First of all, I had to get over my shame of appearing cheap, which meant that I had to GET OVER MYSELF. Hard to do, when you're vain and thin-skinned, but it helps. Second, I learned that no one was going to lose money on me, the customer. Salespeople, no matter what they say, are not going to pay out of their pocket to give you a good deal (and if they do, it's time they found a new job). Lastly, I learned to be really nice. This is hard for me, because I'm naturally kind of... well, not snobby, exactly, but I'm just not the smiley type. But a smile and some kindness really go a long way in life, and if you're like me and you have to ration your friendliness, you might as well use it when you can save a buck or two.
Go ahead, call me a cynic.
Asking for additional discounts isn't easy at first, because no one wants to be the subject of a craigslist rant, but really, it never hurts to ask. I'm not suggesting you really dig in your heels with your babysitter or the kid that mows your lawn, but businesses that care to cultivate good customer relationships will be willing to make a deal. It's cheaper for a business to turn you into a repeat customer than it is for them to gain new customers, so remember that your patronage is highly sought-after.
I recently had to put my bargaining skills to the test when purchasing Pergo floors for my basement - and it worked! I saved $200 by simply being firm in my price range and very friendly. There's always a little wiggle room, so give it a shot! The worst that can happen is the salesperson saying "No", right?
Tips for Haggling
The basic rundown goes like this: Be polite, but firm. Don't be ashamed. Don't flash any bling.
Howtohaggle.com gives you a simple breakdown of why you can and should haggle, and simple mistakes to avoid.
New York Magazine gives you the most basic list of bargaining "Do's".
Lifehacker recently linked to a good article through Reader's Digest.
Bankrate.com has an oddly mixed haggling article for both buyers and sellers, mostly pertaining to houses. I've often used the "Invoke a Higher Power" tactic when bargaining, and I dig that salespeople are encouraged to "flinch" whenever you make an offer.
Get Rich Slowly has some good haggling tips, as well, and ones that I employ include being polite, shopping at the end of the month, and not being afraid to walk away.
AskMen.com points out that you can ALWAYS get an article of clothing cheaper if there is something slightly wrong with it. Defective details mean an automatic 10-20% off of an article of clothing at my local Target.
Real Simple reminds you that there's nothing wrong with bargaining at a tag sale (garage/yard sale).
If you really want to go hardcore, there's always something to be learned from Haggle Gran.