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The right way to haggle

By ninemsn staff
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Air date: Monday, March 31, 2008
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With petrol prices and interest rates on the rise consumers are being advised to do anything to save a few dollars - this includes haggling for the best price.

The once ancient custom of haggling at market stalls for a cheap price will soon be making its way into mainstream shoppng centres and stores.

We talk to consumer advocate group CHOICE to discover more about the art of haggling.

A recent survey conducted by a US based consumer group found 90 percent of people who haggle or try to talk down the price of an item were successful. Many shoppers also said they were simply too shy to try to negotiate a lower price.

Asking for a lower price was once a normal part of shopping, according to CHOICE.

"We tend to think haggling is rude but we fail to realise for many centuries haggling and barter was considered the norm," said CHOICE spokesman Christopher Zinn.

"Only since the industrial revolution and particularly with the advent of the 20th century shopping mall — have we come to consider haggling as not an option."

"It is important to know where you can haggle and where not to. Obviously you are not going to be able to haggle down a product from Woolworths," he said. "You will have more luck at a flea market or an expensive electronic product."

Haggling is much more likely in areas of high competition where stores or outlets are fiercely competing for sales. Often when you deal directly with the store owner, it is much easier to talk down the price of an item.

It's important to remember that the seller has a limit. That is, they will not reduce the price beyond a certain point, Mr Zinn said.

"You are never going to be able to haggle a loss for the seller — so it is good to have done your research on the product to know its general value."

Here are just a few things to keep in mind when hunting down that bargain and haggling for a better price.

Tips for talking the price down

  • Pay cash: If you offer a lower price in cash you are more likely to get the bargain you are after.
  • Shop around: Know the going rate for the particular item you want to purchase. Internet searches are a great way to start on this front. Also look for slight imperfections that may reduce the value of the item you are after.
  • Get to know the seller, be polite: When haggling on price, your personal interaction is everything. Try to build a relationship with the person you are buying from as it will help you haggle on price. For example, a grocer is much more likely to let a loyal and trusted customer haggle over price rather than some shopper they have only just met.
  • Ask for a better price: Having done your research, you should know where you can get a better price. Try asking the seller to match or better that price.
  • Walking away: When haggling, you and the seller will obviously disagree on price and you need to understand that you may not get the bargain you are after. It’s important not to settle — and to walk away from the negotiation if you can’t get the deal you want.
  • Closing time: Haggling at the end of a day can often be more successful as many shop owners are eager to simply move some stock before they close up for the day.
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