A Little Known Fact

Most people accept the fact that when you buy a car or a home, you can negotiate price—or more accurately—try to negotiate price. Just because you make a lower offer than the asking price, doesn’t guarantee that ultimately you will pay less. But it is an accepted practice of the car and home buying process.

Did you also know that there are many other items on which you can negotiate price? I’m not talking about a flea market, swap meet, or farmer’s market. What I am talking about is furniture, jewelry, appliances, home improvements, home repairs, electronics—the list goes on and on. I can honestly say that I have successfully negotiated price on just about every item you can think of. In fact, there was a time that I needed surgery on a broken finger and at that time I had no health insurance. Well, believe it or not, I negotiated the surgical cost with the doctor and saved about $1,000.

It is much more difficult to negotiate price with a major retailer like Sears, Best Buy, Ethan Allen, or Kay Jewelers. However, on certain items—close-outs and floor models—even national chains are willing to bargain. They don’t advertise this practice, of course, but it happens every day.

To be successful negotiating price on the items listed above, you must keep two things in mind. First and foremost, you have to ask for a discount on every major or semi-major item you purchase. One thing is certain: If you don’t ask for a discount, the merchant isn’t going to offer one. If you ask for a discount 100% of the time, the odds of getting a lower price are greater than if you only ask 50% of the time. It’s a fundamental law of statistics.

Second, how you approach the merchant is very important. Flexing your muscles or browbeating the salesperson will yield nothing. Here’s my approach.

“Boy, this is exactly what I’m looking for, but it’s a little more than I want to spend. Any chance you could talk to your manager and see if he can do a little better on price?” The salesman will likely try to convince you to buy a cheaper model, but you must insist that this is the model you really want. If you can’t get a discount, thank the salesperson for their time and say, “This is the first store I’ve shopped, so I guess I’ll have to look around a bit to compare prices.”

Now remember that this exact language won’t work for every single item on which you want to bargain. You’ll have to modify your approach depending on what you’re trying to buy. The key point is to be polite and if they won’t move on price, say that you have to shop around. It works. It really does. The more you practice, the more successful you will be.

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