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Column: How to haggle and save big

Tuesday - 7/16/2013, 5:15am  ET

WASHINGTON - I remember going to Mexico for the first time with my parents.

We walked through the shopping bazaars looking at sandals and other hand crafted goods. This is where I first learned that "haggling" was expected.

Haggling is another word for "negotiating," and American shoppers are just not used to this. We're used to paying whatever the price is.

I wanted a pair of sandals (the ones with real tires for soles), but the price the vendor was asking was way beyond my humble allowance. When I told the vendor "no" and started to walk away, he stopped me and gave me a lower price. Let the haggling begin!

I wondered whether I could haggle back in the states. You bet I could, and I started haggling over the price of goods the minute we returned from our trip to Mexico.

A Consumer Reports survey found that 89 percent of those who'd haggled for a better deal got one. You can haggle over anything: Hospital bills, cars, furniture. If you can buy it, you can haggle over it.

Here are some tips about how to be a better haggler:

  1. Give merchants or service providers a reason to negotiate with you.

  2. Don't ask questions that can be answered with a yes or no.

  3. Decide what is a fair price ahead of time.

  4. Offer to pay with cash instead of a credit card in exchange for a discount.

  5. Ask for a discount on slightly marred items.

  6. If the retailer or provider won't deal, be prepared to walk away.

I've haggled over price with the phone company, the cable guys and lastly with my insurance guys. The result? I got a discount from all of them.

Now go out there and get a deal!

Here are several web pages that offer haggling tips:

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