Every pound saved can make a significant difference in your financial wellness, so the art of haggling is a skill worth mastering. Whether you’re negotiating the price of a new or used car, a piece of antique furniture you really want, or even a cup of delicious coffee, haggling can empower you to save money and make the most of your hard-earned cash. But wait, when and where can you haggle? Can you haggle the price for anything? When is it appropriate to haggle and how can you do it effectively? Naturally, you probably have a lot of questions…
As haggling can be completely alien to some of us and completely outside of our comfort zones, understanding what haggling exactly is and how to haggle well may take some practice, but hopefully, it will help you secure better deals. With 33% of us haggling on bills and other costs, and a further 24% planning to do so, we thought we could offer some pointers in this age-old tradition so that you can make your hard-earned cash go much further.
What Does Haggling Mean?
So, what does haggle mean? Well haggling, also known as bargaining or negotiating, is more than just talking about money. It’s an ancient and culturally diverse practice that involves the powers of persuasion, compromise, and strategic communication. As humans, we have been haggling ever since we’ve been able to talk, and it’s all about reaching an agreement that benefits both sides involved in a sale.
Whether you’re travelling the globe trying to buy souvenirs, closer to home buying items at a market, or even negotiating on a new property, the principles of haggling remain largely the same wherever you happen to be and whatever you are trying to buy.
The Psychology of Haggling
One of the most fascinating aspects of haggling is the psychology behind it. When we haggle, we’re engaging in a complex game of emotions and motivations. As a buyer, you want the best deal possible, to save a bit of money, and to feel victorious in the negotiation. As the seller, you aim to make a profit while maintaining a good relationship with a customer. Both sides need to feel satisfied with the outcome.
Some people love to haggle as the thrill of securing a better deal can trigger a nice release of dopamine. It’s this rush of satisfaction that makes haggling a fun practice for many, whilst in some parts of the world haggling is deeply encouraged and ingrained in the local culture, so it’s a way for people to connect with their heritage and history. However, for some of us, haggling can feel uncomfortable at the worry of offending the seller or being rejected.
When Haggling is Appropriate
While we know that haggling can be a valuable skill to learn, it isn’t always suitable for every situation. Depending where you decide to shop will greatly determine this. In the UK, there is still the perception that many places won’t allow haggling, with 88% of us Brits preferring to pay full price rather than even attempt to haggle a discount. So, where and where not can you haggle?
Good Places To Haggle
- Local Markets and Street Vendors
In many parts of the world, haggling is not only expected but also encouraged when shopping in local markets and dealing with street vendors. Haggling is an essential part of the shopping experience. The same goes here in the UK, with the Great British tradition of Car Boot Sales a great example. Remember, sellers often set higher initial prices, expecting buyers to negotiate for a lower final price.
- Charity and Antique Stores
When you’re in a charity or an antique store, haggling can be a way to uncover hidden treasures at more reasonable prices. Antique dealers, in particular, may be willing to negotiate, especially if they’ve had an item for a while they want to shift. Independent traders are much more willing to negotiate on items, so if you’re on the hunt for a deal, street markets and second-hand stores are perfect to haggle.
- Car Dealerships
Buying a car can be expensive, and car dealerships are well-known for their willingness to negotiate on price. You can often secure a better deal by engaging in haggling, especially towards the end of the month or during sales events. For those who aren’t confident about how to haggle with car dealers on a used or new car, just remember that they want to make a sale so could be willing to throw in extra options or a lower price – just make sure to stay polite and friendly!
- Estate Agents
Both buyers and sellers in the property market expect some degree of haggling when it comes to house prices and terms. Many sellers may specify ONO (Or Nearest Offer) next to the asking price, so feel free to make your offer. Many people still don’t do this, with 30% of homeowners admitting they didn’t negotiate the price of their home. Remember to be confident and as long as you stay reasonable with your offer you won’t have to worry about insulting the seller.
- Services and Subscriptions
When it comes to services like TV, phone and internet subscriptions, or even gym memberships, there’s often room for negotiation. Companies may offer better rates or extra features to retain or attract customers. In fact, broadband and TV is the top product to haggle on, with 54% of people doing so. Your utility bills for gas and electric as well as insurance are also popular to negotiate, so see what type of savings you can make.
When Haggling May Not Work
- Chain Stores and Supermarkets
Unfortunately, haggling is generally not welcome in large chain stores or supermarkets, which is a shame as these are probably some of the most popular places to shop. Prices are typically fixed, so instead, it’s better to navigate towards items on offer and discounts if you’re looking to make savings. However, some stores will price match, meaning if you find something cheaper elsewhere, you can negotiate to bring the price down to match.
- Professional Services
This can be services provided by professionals such as doctors, lawyers, accountants etc. They may have set rates, and attempting to negotiate may not work. Again, it’s better to compare your options to find a better deal and if you do, negotiate on this. If the price of the service can’t be shifted, then see whether anything can be added for free or in addition to the price.
- Fixed-Price Items
Some items, especially those with price tags clearly marked as “fixed” or “non-negotiable,” are not open to haggling. Attempting to haggle on these products may be fruitless, but you can still try – the worst that can happen is you’ll be told “No” and you can then at least say you tried!
Effective Haggling Techniques
Effective haggling requires a combination of strategy, communication, and negotiation techniques. Here are some key ways to help you try and secure better deals:
The Power of Silence
Silence can be a potent weapon in the art of haggling – it’s not all just about talking your way to a good deal. After making your initial offer or counteroffer, resist the urge to fill the silence with more words. Instead, wait for the seller’s response. Don’t worry about feeling awkward as this can work in your favour – the silence can create a level of discomfort for the seller too who may then agree to your offer or an even better one!
Making a Reasonable First Offer
Your initial offer sets the tone for the negotiation. It’s essential to make a fair but somewhat lower initial offer than what you’re willing to pay. Why? Well, this allows room for negotiation while demonstrating your seriousness as a buyer. Avoid going too low as this may cause the seller to not want to negotiate further.
Using Body Language and Non-Verbal Cues
Haggling isn’t just about what you say, it’s also about how you say it. Your body language and non-verbal cues can convey your confidence and commitment.
- Maintain a Relaxed Posture – Stand or sit with an open and relaxed posture to show that you’re at ease – avoid crossing your arms as it may seem rude!
- Use Hand Gestures Sparingly – While some hand gestures can help convey your point, overusing them can be distracting.
- Nodding and Smiling – Appropriate nodding and smiling are good to do and will help maintain a positive atmosphere during haggling.
- Mirroring – Subtly mirroring the seller’s body language can create a sense of rapport and connection.
Building Rapport with the Seller
If you can establish a friendly and respectful rapport with the seller, this can go a long way in haggling. People are more likely to budge on price for those they like and trust, so you’ll need to keep this in mind and work the charm as much as possible.
- Engage in Small Talk – Start the conversation with polite small talk to establish a friendly atmosphere.
- Show Interest – Ask questions and show genuine interest in the item or service you want.
- Find Common Ground – If you discover shared interests or experiences, use them as conversation starters and find that all-important common ground.
- Compliment the Seller – Keep this sincere (try not to be creepy) and compliment the item or the seller’s expertise.
Leveraging Time and Patience
Time can really be your ally in some situations. If you’re not in a hurry to make a purchase, just scouting for a good deal, you can use time as a bargaining tool. Indicate that you’re willing to wait for a better offer or walk away and come back later. This can put pressure on the seller to make a more favourable deal for you.
Handling Rejection Gracefully
It’s essential to be prepared for rejection during haggling. If the seller refuses your offer or counteroffer, don’t take it personally!
Know When to Walk Away
Sometimes, walking away from a deal is the best move. If the seller is unwilling to meet your terms, or if the deal no longer meets your budget or needs, politely express your gratitude and walk away. This willingness from you to walk away can put pressure on the seller to reconsider.
Online Haggling and Price Comparison
Haggling isn’t just for use at your local market or face-to-face with a seller. The online world is full of online marketplaces, auction platforms and service providers where haggling can work its magic. However, one study of UK shoppers found 47.3% found it easier to haggle a better price in person, whilst 32.5% felt it was easier to do so online. It will really come down to what you prefer. Many of the same rules apply, but some may find the online approach to haggling much easier and less uncomfortable to experience.
Tips for Negotiating Prices Online:
- Be Polite and Clear – When sending messages or making offers online, maintain a polite and clear tone. You’ll want to avoid misunderstandings that can easily occur when writing emails or texts, so make your message as clear and friendly as possible.
- Use Price Comparison Websites – Take advantage of the wealth of price comparison websites and tools to ensure you’re getting the best deal. These platforms can help you track prices, find discounts, and identify the best time to buy. Websites like PriceRunner and Idealo can help you help you check prices before negotiating with online sellers.
- Leverage Online Reviews – Online reviews and ratings can provide valuable insights into a product’s quality and the seller’s reputation. This is especially important when using marketplaces like eBay or Amazon when buying from independent stores or sellers.
- Timing Matters – Just like in person, timing can influence your online haggle. Be aware of seasonal discounts, flash sales, and special promotions and this can help you get the best deal. Black Friday and the build-up to Christmas is always a popular time for getting the best price.
When approached in the right way, online haggling can bring success, sometimes more so than in person. A survey by Consumer Reports found that 69% of online shoppers got reduced prices on TVs, computers and other electronic products when haggling on price, compared to 59% in-store, getting a bigger discount on average.
Haggling for Financial Wellness
If you can add haggling to your skillset this can be a game-changer for your financial wellness. The savings you could gain from effective haggling can add up over time, helping you to put more of your hard-earned money into savings and long-term goals. Haggling will help you to avoid overpaying for goods and services, and stretch your budget much further.
So, whether you’re haggling for a new appliance, negotiating a phone or broadband contract, or getting the best price on your next holiday, remember that haggling isn’t just about saving money – it’s about securing your financial wellness and achieving a sense of financial control.
If you’ve enjoyed learning all about how to haggle prices, check out our blog full of further insights. From understanding credit scores to top tips on reducing your winter bills, we hope you can make your money go much further.