A Shoppers Guide to Effective
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
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
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
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
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.