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Your Take: Do You Negotiate or Haggle Often?

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Reading this article by Jane Boon on negotiating down the price for luxury watches reminded me of my trips to China as a kid. When I was younger, we’d visit my relatives in Taiwan once every two or three years. On those trips, we’d often go to various open air markets and street vendors where negotiation was not only expected, it was crucial to the buying process. While I’m not always 100% comfortable with doing it now, I think I really enjoy the dance once I get moving.

My most recent memory was of going to Bermuda and buying a conch from a vendor off the street. The quoted price was $10 a piece for something I knew couldn’t be worth more than a dollar, factoring in labor to find, clean, and polish the conch. Time after time I saw tourist walk up, hear $10, and pull out a ten dollar bill (the kid was selling them beside an open air market, where our friends were wandering). Eventually, I walked up and asked him how much, he said $10, I cringed and said that was too much. Over the next half hour, as I was happily drinking my adult beverage and watching his kid reposition his huge duffel bag of conch shells, the number of tourists passing by had slowed down so I asked the kid if he’d sell me one of the conches for $6. He shook his head. I said $7. He kind paused, then I said I’d buy two for ten (we were with friends) and immediately pulled out the ten dollar bill – he agreed. He went from not being sure whether he wanted to sell it for $7 to selling two for $5 a piece. It was probably one of the highlights of our Bermuda trip (that and wandering into a $500 per person slots “tournament” at Atlantis). :)

I usually don’t haggle much while in the U.S., unless it’s at a market or for a big ticket item, but it seems like I should. How about you?

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13 Responses to “Your Take: Do You Negotiate or Haggle Often?”

  1. cubiclegeoff says:

    I think if the situation was right, I’d haggle, but generally I’m not in that situation. And I know you can always negotiate, but I feel weird about it at retail places usually.

    However, I do think cars are basically all negotiable (with few exceptions if they state clearly that the price is fixed). Because of that, I’ve walked out of dealerships and gone elsewhere.

  2. zapeta says:

    I’ve haggled when buying a car, about rent rates at my apartment, and with the cable company. You can have some success haggling if you are making a large purchase (appliances or electronics come to mind) and its a smaller store or the salesperson is on commission and allowed to haggle.

    • uclalien says:

      These are all situations where I’ve haggled/negotiated also. I got my wife’s car for about 15% under the lowest blue book value when I found a motivated seller (she was moving back to Indonesia).

      Last year, I noticed that rental prices had dropped in my area by about 10-15%. I told my building manager that I wanted a reduction in my rent and didn’t want to pay for a 2nd parking spot anymore (a roughly 9% discount in total, which I felt was more than reasonable). When he came back and said he could only not raise my rent, I gave him my notice. When it was all said and done, I ended up moving into a smaller place that was 40% less.

      Negotiating with cable companies can be hit or miss depending on available alternatives. With the emergence of satellite providers, it’s easier to play one off of another. At the end of your contract, call them up and say you want to cancel your service. I’ve never had them simply say okay. They’ve always offered me some promotion or discount to keep me.

      Negotiating for appliances, furniture, mattresses, etc. can make a huge difference. Depending on the retailer, most of that stuff is market up a ton. For instance, my buddy was a salesman at a mattress store that will go unnamed. He was selling a certain mattress for nearly $5,000 that could be purchased for $800 at Costco.

      The key in all these situations is being willing to walk if you don’t get what you want.

  3. skylog says:

    the only time i have really negotiated, in this respect, was last year when i was trying to lower my cable bill. i did manage to get my bill (after my 12 month promotion ended) from about 180 to 135, but it was not enough and i ultimately canceled the service and moved to another service.

  4. Frugal says:

    You always negottiate for car and house. If you don’t, only you lose.

    If I am ready to walk away, I always try to negotiate, not always successfully, but what do I have to lose, my offer?

    I just bought a house 16% lower than the list price. Near NYC area, the prices have not budged much, but I was willing to wait and walk away.

  5. indio says:

    I grew up in Hong Kong where haggling is a way of life. There are typically 4 prices; the 1 that is written on the product, the 1 for tourists, the 1 for locals, and the 1 for expatriates that speak Cantonese. As a result, I’m not shy about haggling or bargaining, especially if it is a big purchase. I’ve gotten the Toyota dealership to reduce their price several times, even when they weren’t having a publicity nightmare.

  6. Abby B says:

    Haggling on a daily basis is definitely more common outside of the US. Things we have recently haggled for include printer ink, a digital multimeter, a USB-sata cord, and next will probably be when I go to buy a pair of shoes.

    People are more willing to haggle when they are in the situation where some money is better than no money. Sure they’ll still try and get a high price, but they’re probably more willing to accept something lower simply because it will still put money in their pockets.

  7. daenyll says:

    I talked the sales guy down on my mattress for my first apartment. I’d originally scouted a few weeks prior and seen a sale, but was unable to purchase at that time due to not having anywhere to keep it prior to my move to school. So when I went back and actually went to purchase the price was marked higher and I had to talk to a new guy. I managed to get him to knock it back to the sale price I’d seen and take a little more off since I was hauling it on my own and wouldn’t need delivery. A very satisfying experience for my first true haggling attempt.

  8. Strebkr says:

    I guess the people at Uverse got sick of people getting upset at them for raising their rates. I guess too many people were calling in trying to complain and haggle their prices down. If you have some form of yahoo DSL or Uverse then you probably got this email. Here is the language I ‘agreed’ to by opening the email.

    • Abusive Treatment: We have added language that allows AT&T to terminate the service of customers who repeatedly harass or abuse our employees.

  9. Stella says:

    I find it difficult to “haggle” for items (say a sweater or shampoo), but have no such difficulties renegotiating service rates. I recently got DirecTV to knock $12 off my monthly bill and when I noticed my monthly EFT for my car insurance had gone up by 10%, I call and they were able to get the rate down to lower than what it had been before the increase.

  10. Strebkr says:

    I have a friend of mine who LOVES to haggle. I told him next time I need to buy something significant I’m bringing him along. I’ll give him 25% of what he saves me plus lunch. We both get something we want out of the deal.

  11. Shirley says:

    I did call and haggle with AT&T and got a lower rate (without a contract) for our internet DSL, landline and cellphone services. The fellow that I talked to was very courteous and friendly, and quite helpful. The entire bill is 90-100 dollars per month now.

  12. Pmoa says:

    I haggle everything now. From co cast to xm radio. Although, I’m one of the few that enjoy playing hardball with car dealerships. And also love haggling for watches on our cruises…where else do you get to have a little control over what you spend?


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