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:
- Give merchants or service providers a reason to negotiate with you.
- Don't ask questions that can be answered with a yes or no.
- Decide what is a fair price ahead of time.
- Offer to pay with cash instead of a credit card in exchange for a discount.
- Ask for a discount on slightly marred items.
- 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:
- Consumer Reports: Learning how to bargain can reap big bucks
- NBC's Today Money: The art of haggling: What have you got to lose?
- ConsumerMan: Herb Weisbaum's consumer advice.
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