A Modern Man's Guide to Bargaining: How to Haggle and Get the Best Price...without Acting Like A Jerk
Everyone loves to save their hard-earned cash. So spending as little as possible while getting the most value is always the best way to go. But how can you make that happen without acting like a jerk in the process? Here are a few tried-and-true tips.
I’m an admitted bargain hound. If it’s not on sale, it’s not for me. Does this mean I’m cheap? Not really, I buy nice things but I hunt and negotiate a deal or I wait it out. The main thing I love about a bargain is the money left over. Every dollar I save on a deal stays in my pocket for something else, and that’s a big motivation for me. One problem I see with bargain hunters is the tendency to be a major jerk to make a deal happen. Bullying, lying, cheating are all closely associated with negotiating for many people so decent people shy away from any type of bargaining to avoid operating in that seedy grey area. Last weekend I bought three major items and used these tips to get a good deal with everyone smiling in the end. Here are a few tips on getting the best deal, while keeping your integrity intact along the way.
- Use cash. Credit may be the same as cash at the register, but you’ll almost always get a better deal with a stack of greenbacks. This is part because cash is immediate and guaranteed to have value, checks or credit put you at an immediate disadvantage because someone has to decide to accept that form of payment and the hassle that comes with it. On top of that, cash is emotional for people. A stack of crisp bills brings out a visual and mental response because it’s so engrained in our minds as a source of security and freedom; it also centers attention and gives you control of the conversation. A quick note: Don’t be stupid flashing a huge amount of cash around on a big deal. Bring a few hundred in twenty dollar bills for an impressive stack, and have a cashier’s check for the balance.
- Ask for a deal. It may sound strange, but everything is negotiable. Getting in front of a manager and asking for a better price works about half the time for me, and you can usually save about 10% or more. The key with this is to look for items that have damaged boxes, a bit of dust on them, or other indications that they’re taking up space. It doesn’t have to be a scratch-and-dent for a deal, but finding a legitimate reason why they should come down in price makes it easy for the staff to justify giving a deal. On that topic, don’t EVER give a price first. Ask for a deal and make them come up with the price: “What kind of deal could I get on this? Or “What’s your bottom price on this?”. Letting them set a price comes out lower than I’m expecting a majority of the time. If it’s too high, simply say “ah, that’s still a bit higher than I was hoping to pay.” With that in mind, learn to embrace silence.
- Silence is the best negotiator. I’ve had more deals come together by keeping my mouth shut. 30 seconds of silence in a conversation is uncomfortable and generally results in them negotiating the price down a bit more themselves. Don’t be rude about the silence, genuinely contemplate the deal (while counting silently to at least 30) and let them think on it they almost always come up with their very best deal about 25 seconds in.
- Be fine walking away. The worst deals I’ve made came from “having” to have it. Losing the ability to be fine walking away will always cost you more. Keep in mind that there are always more of everything and if this doesn’t work out, no problem.
- Remember they’re a person. Here’s the part where you remind yourself that the very best price is no good if you come out as a jerk. Never lie, bully, or treat another person like they don’t matter in the deal. Retail isn't always a pleasant job, so work hard to be the highlight of their day, not another reason for them to find another place to work.
Now get out there and get a deal.
Have any tips you like on how to get a bargain? We'd love to hear!