Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Art Of The Bargain

I must admit that when it comes to bargaining I've got no game.

I never quite got the art of the bargain. I love going to a sale and getting a great deal, but I’ve got nothing when it comes to bargaining for it. Take, for example, my best friend. She can haggle with a sales person in a chic New York boutique for a deal and get her price. She expertly negotiates her deal, sometimes even walking away, only to be called back and met either with her price or somewhere in the middle.

The aforementioned boutique, with it's expensive finery, may just work with a customer because they are the direct owner of the goods and will settle on a discounted price in order make the sale and still make money. The key would be to figure out when and where bargaining is appropriate.
A quick web search of the "art of the bargain" led me to this site that offered up these helpful tips:
  • In an open-air market, with no prices posted, you bargain. In a department store with marked prices, you do not.
  • If you're dealing with the owner, it's probably appropriate to bargain. If you're dealing with a salaried clerk, it's probably not appropriate.
  • It should be worth everyone's while.
  • When in doubt, merely note what others are doing.
  • Once you've determined that bargaining is expected, you need a sense of how much you can expect to drive down the price. Make a counter-offer too low, and you look bad. Too high, and you'll pay more than you need to.
  • Typically, at an outdoor market you can expect to get the price down by 10-30%.
  • Don’t buy the first thing you see. Look around. Get prices from a few merchants. You’ll soon get a sense of what’s reasonable.

Is there an art to the bargain or a bargaining gene that I didn't get? I realize that there are only a handful of places that you can actually bargain for a price and I'm more than sure that Neiman Marcus isn't one of them. So that leaves the obvious places. Yard sales, flea markets, farmers markets, auctions, store closeouts, consignment shops, car dealerships, etc., but could I be wrong? In these tough economic times, people seem to be bargaining more and more in places that you wouldn't think would settle for a negotiated price. The result has given the consumer the upper hand.

Even major retailers like Best Buy, Circut City and Home Depot are getting in on the bargaining culture to retain buyers. Citing the wealth of consumer information available on the Internet and something they are calling "the Ebay phenomenon", this article explains the shift in major retailers price flexibility and acceptable consumer "haggling".



So lets say I find myself in a position to bargain, where do I begin with price? 30%? 20%? Whats the general rule when working a deal? How much back and forth is appropriate? And what about the old, "I'm walking away," technique? Is that something you need to have a "feel" for so you know when it's execution will procure your desired price?

17 comments:

Dr Zibbs said...

I've always been a major bargain hunter. The key is to know the value of the item.

Heff said...

Being male, of course my primary goal is to "Get in and Get out" at whatever the cost.

Cheryl said...

I go for some ridiculously low price, and slowly increase. They will usually meet you in the middle somewhere. And if they don't, walk away.

Knowing how to bargain in China is vital for survival

Gwen said...

I'm a haggler but I have the advantage of making my living as a negotiator. My best advice is know the value of the item, know how to justify your offers, start low and know how high you are willing to go (also called your "drop dead number.") The goal is to meet somewhere in the middle. In a successful negotiation neither party goes home happy but neither goes home mad, either.

SkylersDad said...

I don't haggle at all, I lose all my energy the moment I start shopping for anything, and just want to get away!

Giggle Pixie said...

Oh yeah, I'm a haggler. I can always get stuff on the cheap. Must be that 1/2 Jewish side of me!!! :-)

Chaka said...

I hate bartering and negotiating. Some people get a thrill from it but for me it's like listening to a sales presentation. I'd rather pay more and skip the wasted time and energy. I'm such a party pooper.

Cora said...

I've tried it at garage sales and in a market in Hawaii and in all those times except one I failed miserably at it! The one time I succeeded, I walked away feeling like a jerk, and that was no better! My Dad is BRILLIANT at it. So, I dunno. I think you've either got it or you don't. I don't. And I'm okay with that.

BeckEye said...

I don't have the energy for shopping let alone haggling prices.

LegalMist said...

I've never tried bargaining on prices at a grocery or clothing store (unless there is a minor flaw such as a ripped seam, which I know I can fix at home). I think I'd spend more time than it would be worth, savings-wise, to try to talk someone down a few dollars on a new suit jacket or a couple dollars on my grocery bill.

But for larger purchases it can really pay off. I always start, as Dr. Z said, with knowing the value of the item. Look it up online, know what a reasonable range is for a variety of makes and models and what is the best advertised deal. Then go to Circuit City or Best Buy or Sears or wherever armed with a printout of their competitor's advertised sale prices, and ask if they can beat the deal. Often they will offer you a better deal. If they say no, but they'll match it, ask if they can give you the same deal on the slightly better model xxxx. If they say no, ask if they can throw something else in for free (free delivery for a large item, or cables for that computer, or extra ink cartridges for the printer, for example). Usually I'll walk away with a better deal than the advertised special. And if they are completely unwilling to bargain, I'll just go to the retailer that advertised the special and buy it from them -- always asking, of course, if they can also throw in those cables and/or extra printer cartridges for free....

Try it. It's fun.

Sassy Britches said...

Absolutely there's a gene. And also a personality trait, I think. I'm one of those people who doesn't like what can be remotely perceived as a confrontation, so barganing is never an option for me. I don't want to offend by even offering.

I'm even amazed by people who use coupons. I would just use the coupon, period. Nope, others strike deals and have all these newfangled "rules" that they can get more than one item and double up on coupons and somehow use them when they're expired and all this. No way. I'm out. I'll either pay for it, I'll go somewhere else, or I'll do without.

mike said...

I will tell you how to bargain for $10. How about $5? $1.40? C'mon. You're killing me.

Bird* said...

i suck at bargaining.

A said...

My problem is when I want something I just buy it and don't care about the bargain. I have that I want it now! problem...sigh...I wish I was a bargain hunter!

TishTash said...

My mom is excellent at bargaining. She says that the last time she did, it was with the devil and she got me.

I think she was trying to say she loves me or something.

It's Just Me said...

We own a dock and boat lift business. When someone asks we usually lower the price. The best line is ...."what kind of deal can you give me?" or "is that the bottom line?" or "what is the best you can do". If it means that we lose $100 or lose the sale we will go for reducing the price almost every time.

Fancy Schmancy said...

I'm familiar with the gene, but I wasn't born with it, either. My mother is an avid tag saler, and has run multiple consignment/antique stores. She never pays full price for ANYTHING, not even food. If it's not on sale, it's not on her list that week. I'll try to bargain, a little, but I never push it. If I don't get the price I want, I have no problem walking away. That's not a technique for me either, I just don't want it anymore.