How to Haggle for the Best Deal, From Broadband to Travel | Cash

take a chance

It might not come naturally to you, but many companies are open to haggling, so don’t discount it. They want to make a sale, even if the profit margin is a little lower, so a displayed price is not necessarily the final price. No contracts were formed until the money changed hands. The worst that can happen when haggling is to get a no from a seller.

Earlier this year, which one? surveyed broadband customers found that those who haggled saved an average of £85 a year – a 20% discount. The savings were even greater for people who have a combined broadband and TV package: £128 a year on average.

Jenny Ross, what? Money editor says that in his online shopping research he found that people can sometimes get discounts of up to 20% from popular retailers just by asking for a better price on the company’s online chat function.

Someone holds a glass of champagne next to the bottle
Can haggling with your hotel result in a bottle of champagne on arrival? Photography: François Nascimbeni/AFP/Getty Images

She adds: “You can also save money on your next vacation by haggling with your travel agent or calling the hotel directly rather than settling for online pricing. This can result in a discount, free upgrade or even a bottle of champagne on arrival.”

do your research

Have as much information as possible at your fingertips when starting your trading. For example, look at competitors’ prices using comparison sites like Google Shopping, Kelkoo, and PriceRunner.

Michelle Bailey, who writes the Time and Pence blog, haggled £600 off the price of new windows and doors by talking to various companies and seeing the prices they charge.

Or Goren, the editor of the Cord Busters blog, says, “Before you call, write down two numbers – the most you’re willing to pay and the lowest you’re willing to pay. Those numbers should guide your bargain.”

He advises that if you stay focused and within the limits you’ve set, you’ll have a better chance of winning.

go with ideas

Keep the cost in mind, but also consider what you can also accept. Could the company offer something that would make the business better for you? batteries? Sofa pillows? A few extra months of contract?

However, Claire Stitt of Stapo’s life hacks website says you should think about what you really want and need. “It’s no use having a phone contract with 500 text messages a month if you usually only send 10,” she says.

Gray contemporary modern sofa with lamp
Would the company be willing to offer something that would make the deal better for you, like sofa cushions? Photography: Mihalis_a/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Describe the benefits

A haggled deal is a win-win. The merchant gets a sale that he otherwise wouldn’t have made, and you get a good price. Try to show the trader the beneficial impact the sale can have in the future. Shilpa Panchmatia is a retired businesswoman who teaches people how to grow their business. When booking a hotel for a conference, she pointed out that she would make bulk reservations every month for an entire year and got the manager to waive the room rental fee. “The secret was to show the [manager] the bigger picture and how it would benefit,” she says.

Think about booking rooms in bulk for an overnight stay at a wedding, for example – a venue might offer a discount in exchange for having a guaranteed number of rooms booked.

choose your moment

Try going to a store during the quiet period, when no one is under pressure to take you forward.

If you’re buying a car, go to the showroom at the end of the month, possibly last Thursday. Becky Derbyshire, who runs the Lifestyle Blogger UK website, recently haggled in her Ford Fiesta. She says sellers are often desperate to hit monthly targets, so they can lower prices.

Polly Arrowsmith has been bargaining for years, including with companies like Harrods and Prada. His successful trades include taking hundreds of pounds out of a dishwasher and furniture. A lot of her wins have come from knowing when sales are coming in, so she knows retailers will be ready to cut their margins.

Build a good relationship

Be nice, calm, polite and assertive. Say you’re a cash buyer or can pay today, to show you’re serious. Importantly, be sure to start the bargaining process with the person who has the authority to do business.

Keep him in a good mood. People are more open to persuasion if you make them feel good, rather than trying to knock them down on price. Make them want to help you.

If it’s a no or you don’t get the discount you want, graciously accept, thanking the person you’re talking to for their consideration. At some point you may be back to haggle on something else.

Negotiate the renewal

Often, if you threaten to leave a company when a contract or subscription comes to an end, you will be offered an offer to stay. Don’t just accept – see what offers are available for new customers and request one to be a loyal customer.

Insurers are now prohibited from quoting policyholders a higher price to renew their home or auto insurance than they would offer a new customer. But that doesn’t mean that what you’re offering is the cheapest price. So let your provider know about the comparison site prices they should beat.

haggle when complaining

If you need to complain about a service, such as problems with your broadband, ask for a discount as well as a repair. I did this recently and got a six month fee refund, a free one year upgrade and a wifi booster.

Offer to pay in cash

Stores typically charge 1-4% of the transaction amount when you pay for something with a credit or debit card. While merchants may have to pay to put money into a bank, it may be a lower cost, so it’s worth offering as part of your conversation.

Five stacks of newly minted one pound coins arranged in increasing height on British pound notes.
Bring cash payment when haggling. Photography: Rosemary Calvert/Getty Images

Get closer to small businesses

Brad Burton is a business motivational speaker who founded Network Central, a business networking organization. He says it can be much easier to haggle with smaller companies because they have the flexibility that comes with a shorter chain of command and are often hungrier to sell.

“When it comes to trading, offering immediate or short payment terms is always a good starting point for solving any cash flow problem,” he says.

“Don’t make unreasonable offers. Understand that any business needs to make a profit and that they are offering a product or service that you want and/or need – so be respectful.”

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