That’s me – the bargain queen.
Of course, I love a good sale, but I mean bargain as a verb, not an adjective. In other words, I’ve recently come to realize that I’m an expert negotiator of prices. A few recent examples:
My coffee table. I found a perfect condition West Elm Parson’s coffee table on Craig’s List for $150. I negotiated the seller down to $125.
My cable bill. My bill recently shot up to $117 for basic cable and Internet. I called Comcast and was able to get the bill knocked down to $90 per month, but I also was able to get HBO thrown in for free for six months (hello Boardwalk Empire).
My latest vintage purchase (a *gorgeous* black clutch with gold accents). There are a couple of small tears on the inside of the bag, so I was able to negotiate the price down to $20 from $24.
So what are the keys to successful price negotiation? This is what has worked for me:
1. Be willing to ask
This is the most important tactic of all. My sister was shocked when I asked about getting a price reduction on the clutch and was totally surprised when I got the deal. It never, ever hurts to ask for a price break. The worst you can hear is no.
2. Find a bargaining chip
Speaking of the clutch, my success in that negotiation was due to the slight tears in the bag. It was my bargaining chip and was difficult to say no to. My bargaining chip with the coffee table was the original asking price; normally, fair price for used items is one-third of the retail price and that guy was asking half. Do your research and present a compelling argument for a price reduction.
3. Be willing to walk away
If you find a solid bargaining chip and ask for a price reduction and the seller isn’t willing to negotiate, my advice would be to walk. If your bargaining chip is questionable and you really want the item, you might reconsider and go back for it later. This is a personal choice, but if I know I have a strong case for a reduction and the seller won’t negotiate at all, I always walk (this happened recently with a desk I wanted on CL. Curses). I don’t want to do business with people who won’t be reasonable.
4. Mention personal, endearing details
When I called Comcast about my cable bill, I mentioned that I’m a school teacher and that paying over $100 per month for cable is simply too much. Teaching is a notoriously underpaid profession and people tend to respond to favorably. But regardless of your profession, dropping personal details into the conversation never hurts and makes your negotiation less faceless to the person on the other end.
5. Schmooze and smile
Before asking for a price reduction always be sure to pay a compliment. The quality of the goods; the layout of the store; the friendliness of the employees. I’m also always very thankful to the employee when I get the reduction I’m asking for – I’ve even gone so far as to contact managers to pay the employee that I worked with a compliment.
6. Be open to non-monetary deals
My Comcast bill didn’t come down as much as I was hoping for, but throwing in HBO for free definitely appeased me. Sometimes, employees don’t have the authority to grant a discount, but they can give you a voucher or certificate for your next visit. And when you get right down to it, the point of negotiating is to get more for your money, so that’s why I find non-monetary deals to be worth the effort, even if I don’t get exactly what I’m asking for.
Some people think negotiating is a hassle, but I think it’s totally worth it. Do you negotiate prices? Did I leave any important tips off the list?