Miss the Big Sale? Claim Your Savings Anyway
The sudden aggravation of my son's allergies became the last straw for this frugal family. While we had suffered through a summer or two in our old farm home with little to no air-conditioning in most rooms, this year was going to be different. Credit card in hand (we enjoy collecting on those rewards points), my husband headed to our local Pamida for the 12,000 BTU beauty. (See also: Wear Frozen Clothing and 9 Other Ways to Beat the Heat)
Soon after he arrived, he called me from his cell phone — a bit more than aggravated. "Lins, it's showing $50 more than what you said it was going to cost." I reached for my sale ad and realized that the great price on the very last one in stock had ended — yesterday.
"Tell them you want it anyway." I figured it couldn't hurt, right? After all, I had been reading so much on haggling lately (but never really tried it). How hard could it be?
The happy ending to my story is that I got my A/C for yesterday's sale price. We slept in two hours of dehumidified and cooled air last night. (I set it on a very conservative cycle to save energy.) My son woke up without his little pink eyes today (he had white ones, instead). We are very happy.
We also learned a bit about real-world haggling techniques. (See also: How to Negotiate With Confidence and Strike the Best Deal)
Know THE Price
This is different from "Know your price." Your price (what you're willing to pay) may be higher than what you can actually get it for. Or it may simply be way too cheap for the store to make any money on it. A better way to approach this is to know the bottom-line price the store is willing to let the merchandise go for. Sale ads are great resources for this. If you know that a chair went on sale for $99 last month, then you know that this is a price they are probably comfortable selling it for.
In addition to competitor's ads for the same week (which many stores honor without haggling), keep a record of sale ads for that same store for the past six months or so. If you see an appliance on sale in March, but don't have the money, save the sale ad until you do. Bring that same ad with you when you're ready to make your purchase, and you have just proven that you know your stuff. Most stores won't deny you their own best prices — especially if it moves merchandise.
While many upscale stores may have trained their entry-level sales associates how to give discounts, don't assume that it will be easy. If you can locate a manager right away, don't be afraid to approach them directly with your offer. It will take much less time, and by doing so, you will build a relationship with that manager (which will come in handy when you ask for another discount at a later date).
Leave the Door Open
After you have made your sale purchase, clarify the store's (or manager's) policy on similar transactions for future items. Would they be willing to discount another large purchase in a week or so? What kind of items do they see going on sale next month? Did you thank them kindly for their discount? By building a relationship with your favorite stores, you are doing more than haggling. You are networking a future of savings opportunities. (See also: How to Get What You Want on Customer Service Calls)
Once you make your first successful "off-sale" purchase, you will become confident in your abilities. Why shop the same way again?