Asking for a discount might seem daunting, embarrassing or even downright rude, but when you discover you could save an average of £1,000 per year, it suddenly seems more tempting. Topping up your income with £5 saved here and £20 saved there can make a big difference over time. There’s no shame in asking for a fairer deal, and it’s perfectly legal to challenge the price of any product in a shop in the UK.
Having the confidence to haggle is the best way to make your money go further so we’ve put together some simple rules for bagging a bargain. Our tips are from an expert haggler, Dr Sandi Mann, a Senior Psychology Lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire.
1. Don’t be embarrassed
Try not to let the fear of being told ‘no’ put you off asking for a better price. “There’s no need to feel embarrassed,” says psychologist Sandi Mann. “And don’t worry about being seen as ‘cheap’ if you ask for a discount – getting the most for your money is just common sense. You can make great savings, so try to get used to the possibility of being turned down, and don’t be afraid to ask. It’s amazing what you can get.”
2. Pick the right time and place
You’re likely to have a better chance of bagging a bargain at a shop that is independently owned, but some chain stores will negotiate on prices, too. “The end of the month is the best time to haggle,” says Sandi. “Most shops work to monthly targets and will be keener to close a deal at the end of the month than at other times.
“Look out for sales, too, which imply the shop wants to clear its shelves for new stock, and suggest an extra discount or throwing in a freebie as an incentive for you to buy.” It’s reasonable to ask for a discount of between ten and 15 per cent.If you find out you’ve missed out on an offer that has now been withdrawn – for example, £20 off an electronic item or 20 per cent off a fitted bathroom – ask if they’d be willing to do the same deal with you now. “It’s obviously a discount they can afford to offer so it’s always worth trying your luck,” says Sandi.
3. Look like you mean business
Practise your poker face because getting a bargain is all about staying in control of your feelings and body language. It’s hard not to get emotionally attached to bigger items, such as cars, when you find one you really love. But if the sales person picks up on how keen you are it’ll be harder to strike a good deal. “Use body language to help you appear confident and in control of the situation,” says Sandi. “Keep eye contact, lean forward and nod when you’re discussing prices. Avoid things such as tapping your feet or jiggling your hands which might make you look anxious to buy.” Get the person you’re dealing with on your side by subtly mirroring their body language. “Try crossing your legs in the same direction or putting your arms in a similar position,” says Sandi. “It helps them think that you’re on the same wavelength.”
4. Be confident
There’s no reason why getting a bargain can’t be fun, and you may find a little charm goes a long way when it comes to discounts. “Subtly compliment them,” suggests Sandi. “Even if they see straight through it they’ll still warm to you for trying. Find out their name early on in the conversation, and try to use it at
least once.” Avoid using hesitant language and phrases such as ‘Don’t you think?’ or ‘You know?’ and try not to ‘um’. Ask for the deal you’d like confidently, then wait. “Silence is golden,” says Sandi. “Leave them with something like: ‘Can you do anything for me…?’ Then try to wait, even if it’s uncomfortable, for them to fill the silence with a wonderful offer.”
5. Bring support
It’s always helpful to take someone with you if you plan to haggle – especially over something big such as a car or house. Ask them to flag up the cons while you talk about the pros. “This encourages the seller to lower the cost, while still making it clear you’re ultimately interested in buying,” says Sandi. “Watch out for sellers using the same technique on you, and saying things like ‘I’d love to give you a discount, but my manager won’t let me’.”
6. Walk away
You need to be willing to walk away if you don’t get the deal you want – you never know, the sight of you turning to leave might be enough to prompt a better offer. Decide how much you want to pay for something, start lower and if they can’t match want you want to pay, walk away.
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