Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Let's Make a Deal: Haggling at Department Stores & Other Shops

Haggling over prices is expected at flea markets, yard sales and auto lots. But my sister, Debra Patterson, negotiated a sweet deal for kitchen chairs at a department store.

Her pitch: “If we buy more, can we get a discount?” The salesman didn’t have authority to respond, but a manager was able to give her a discount of $120 on the set of four chairs.

Asking for a lower price is a strategy that wins high marks from Consumer Reports. In a recent national survey of more than 2,000 shoppers, Consumer Reports National Research Center discovered that 61% of consumers have bargained for furniture, cell phones and other services at least once in the last three years. And of those who tried to cut a deal for home furnishings, 94% were successful in getting better bargains.

Among buyers who negotiated lower furniture prices, 61% saved $50 to $99, with 14% saving more than $100, and 26% saving $1 to $49.

Bargaining can also yield handsome savings on medical bills, home electronics products, appliances, jewelry and antiques, according to the Consumer Reports survey.
Whether dealing with a boutique or a national chain, here are some successful strategies:

- Seize moments of power. Use the opportunity of negotiating a new service contract or renewing an existing agreement to ask for a rate cut or extra perks.

- Use cash. Stores typically pay transaction fees of 2% to 8% on credit and debit card transactions, according to Consumer Reports. Cash sales have an extra appeal and many stores are willing to provide discounts for shoppers who pay in cash.

- Shop for flaws. Managers often give discounts for products with small flaws or for floor models.

- There are also savings in numbers. You can ask for a discount when you buy in multiples.

This is from my latest column in the home & design section of the Miami Herald.


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