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Category: | Shopping Help |

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A Shoppers Guide to Effective Bargaining

By Peggy in Ocala, Florida

The biggest problem most shoppers have with bargaining is the misconception that nice people don't do it. Before you can negotiate, you have to get over this attitude. Here are some things to remember.

1. Bargaining will not turn you into a social outcast. All a shopkeeper sees when you walk in the door is dollar signs. If you are willing to spend, he is probably willing to make a deal. He knows that everybody is trying to save money these days, and bargaining shows readiness.

2. Bargaining is a business transaction. You are not trying to cheat the merchant, or get something for nothing. You are trying to agree on a fair price. You expect to negotiate for a house or car, why not for a refrigerator or coat.

3. You have a right to bargain, particularly in small stores that don't offer discounts. Reasoning: According to experts, department stores which won't bargain as a rule traditionally mark up prices 100%-150% to cover high overhead costs. Small stores should charge lower prices because their costs are low.

Try this: Set a price limit for a particular item before you approach the storekeeper. Be prepared to walk out if he doesn't meet your limit. (You can always change your mind later.) Make him believe you really won't buy unless he reduces his price. Be discreet in your negotiations. If other customers can overhear your dickering, the shop owner must stay firm. Don't manhandle the goods that you inspect. Address the salesperson in a polite, friendly manner. Assume that he will want to do his best for you because he is a nice helpful person.

Shop at off-hours. You will have a better chance if business is slow. If you are unfamiliar with the art of bargaining, try the following suggestions. Over the years they have proved both effective and marketable.

1. Negotiate with cash. In a store that takes CREDIT cards, request a discount for paying in cash. (Charging entails overhead costs that the store must absorb.)

2. Buy in quantity. A customer who is committed to multiple purchases has more bargaining power. When shopping is complete, approach the owner and suggest a price about 20% less than the actual total. Variation: If you are buying more than one item, offer to pay full price on the first one, if the owner will give you a break on the other.

3. Look for defective merchandise. This is the only acceptable bargaining point in department stores, but it can also save you money in small shops. If there's a spot, split seam or a missing button, estimate what it would cost to have the garment fixed commercially. The next step is to ask for a discount based on that figure. For example: You find a chipped hair dryer. When you ask for a discount, the manager says he will return it to the manufacturer and find you an undamaged one. On reply say: "Sell it to me for a little less and save yourself the trouble."

4. Adapt your haggling to the reality of the situation. A true discount house has a low profit margin and depends on volume to make money. Don't ask for more than 5% off in such a store. A boutique that charges what the traffic will bear, has more leeway. Start by asking for 15% off, and dicker from there.

5. Buy at the end of the season, when new merchandise is being put out. Similarly, offer to buy older goods at a discount.

6. Persuade your local television or appliance dealer to give you a break so you can keep your business in the community.

7. In most major cities and metropolitan areas, large stores have employees who will do your shopping for you. You don't even have to be there. Call the store and ask for the personal shopper.

Okay, so bargaining isn't for everyone. The key lies in knowing what to say, how to say it, and whom to say it to. It could also means the difference between getting a break, and spending unnecessary money on defective merchandise. To bargain or not to bargain, aye, that is the question.


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Category: | Shopping Help |

Related Links:  | Clothing |

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