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Hagglers Rarely Lose

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Chances are, if you do, you’ll get a better deal.

Keep that in mind when you shop for a home, where virtually all costs are negotiable.

A Consumer Reports National Research Center survey of 2,167 households this past summer found that more than 90 percent of those who tried to talk down the price succeeded on furniture, electronics, appliances, even medical bills.

The most successful hagglers shaved an average $50 off the asking price of an individual item or service.

Of those who yakked their way to a better deal, 94 percent scored a lower price at least once during the past three years. Overall, 61 percent of respondents bargained at least once during that time.

Ninety-three percent managed to dicker reductions on medical bills and 92 percent worked out a lower price for home electronics, the report says.

Among those who bargained for furniture, 94 percent saved money; for large and small appliances, 92 percent; floor and demo models, 91 percent; bank and credit card fees, 87 percent; jewelry 86 percent; cell-phone plans, 80 percent; collectibles and antiques, 78 percent.

The greatest number of winners were found in furniture where 61 percent of hagglers saved $50 to $100; 58 percent of those haggling over large and small appliance prices also saved $50 to $100; 54 percent of those vying for less on home electronics and jewelry, both saved from $50 to $100; 53 percent of those shopping for floor and demo models saved $50 to $100 when they dickered and 50 percent of those saved from $1 to $49 when they tried to get the price down on cell-phone plans.

Among the dickering group, the biggest winners by dollar amount were the 35 percent of consumers who slashed $100 or more off medical bills; 26 percent who reduced cell-phone plans by $100; 22 percent who knocked $100 off floor or demo model prices and 21 percent who did the same for bank and credit card fees.

On average, 61 percent of shoppers surveyed actually bargained for cheaper prices at least once over a three year period, one in three consumers aren’t exercising their negotiating muscle.

Haggling experts reminds consumers, there’s nothing wrong with asking for a cheaper price. The worst that will happen is the merchant will say ‘no’ and you won’t be any worse off.

On the other hand, make price dickering a regular shopping technique and you are likely to save hundreds of dollars a year, especially if you haggle around just like you should shop around for the best price.

Not for the introverted, shy or withdrawn, negotiating does require a level of assertiveness and the willingness to risk rejection, the report says.

And be aware, that merchants often price items with wiggle room. You aren’t forcing them to negotiate, but if you don’t, they just rake in more profit.

To improve your negotiating success rate, Consumer Reports’ experts also advise:

  • Gauge the seller’s need. Merchants selling items with a limited shelf life may have extra incentive. Likewise, a home seller with a new job elsewhere or who already has purchased another home is motivated to move.
  • Go to the top. Seek out a manager or supervisor if the person on the floor says ‘I don’t have the authority.’ If your medical plan doesn’t cover the entire cost of a procedure, talk to the doctor, not the office manager.
  • Negotiate from a position of power. Bargains are most likely when you have the upper hand. It costs cell phone carriers and satellite radio companies large sums of money to lure new customers. When it’s time to re-up your service contract, load on requests for more minutes, lower prices and other deals.
  • Time is money. Hit the sales. Cars are often on sale in November and December. Consumer Reports indicates when other items hit the sales bins. Get an early-bird discount from your tax preparer by filing before the rush. On floor models and demos use flaws and blemishes, that don’t affect the items operation, to put downward pressure on the price.
  • Bring cash. Remind the merchant of the transaction fees it won’t have to pay to a credit-card company if he or she accepts your wad of dough.

Written for www.RealtyTimescom. Copyright