10 tips for effective haggling

Do your research

Start by asking yourself an important question: How much do I want to spend?

Once you have set your budget, your target is to land a deal that offers the best possible value for that amount of money.

The next step is to research the product you want to buy. All products have their own special features. But what do you really need from the product?

There is no point in paying for extra features you will never use.

Have a look around and find the product you think will best suit your needs and budget. Find out how much you can buy it for from other sources, including online retailers.

Give the outlet you want to buy from a chance to compete with their rivals.

Build a rapport with the salesperson

What is the first thing you should do when you meet the salesperson?

Smile and ask their first name. Then use it as often as you can in the conversation. Give them your name too. It’s amazing how a simple gesture like that can start to break down barriers. Some light-hearted chat before you start talking business is always a good start.

If you’re stuck for an idea, just talk about the weather. It really doesn’t matter what you talk about, as long as you start to break the ice. Have fun if possible, but remember why you are there… to bag a great deal.

Wait, don’t haggle too soon

Patience is a virtue. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to do a deal.

Don’t even mention the price in the first five minutes. Allow the salesperson to settle into the conversation as well as you.

It’s always good to let the salesperson tell you about the product you want to buy. You may know a bit already from the research you’ve done, but it relaxes them, and it’s polite to listen to the information you are being given. It makes sense, too.

Let them show you the stock on offer. They may be able to offer a discount on a certain model because it hasn’t got the latest features. If you don’t need those new additions, you could do a deal on the old stock that will suit you

Stand your ground

Conversation also gives you the opportunity to find out a little more about the person you are dealing with.

If their sales pitch is swift and slick and you feel they are trying to steamroll you into a deal simply because that product will earn them the most commission, make sure they don’t get away with it. Stand your ground and keep asking questions. See how much the salesperson really knows about what they’re trying to sell you.

Make sure you, not they, are in control of the situation. Being rushed into parting with your money is bad news. Buy in haste, repent at leisure.

Let’s talk numbers

Never let slip your maximum budget. Giving that information away can hurt a haggle before it has even begun. You don’t want to spend your maximum budget. That’s the whole point of bartering.

Don’t say – I don’t suppose you can knock any money off? Do say – I like those… get the price down and I’ll buy them today. Don’t say – I don’t suppose you could give me a discount? Do say – What sort of deal can you do to persuade me to buy today?

Be positive and focused. To get a good deal you must go in so low it’s almost insulting. It’s no good offering £95 for something that costs £100. If the seller says yes, you’ll never know how much you could have got it for. If they say, “You must be joking, it cost us more than that…”, great! You’ve gone in at the right price, established the floor, and now you can move on from there.

When you make an offer in a haggle, don’t speak again until the salesperson replies. If you say too much you sound anxious, as if you are trying to
justify the offer you’ve just made. These key moments of silence are crucial to doing a great deal.

When you make your offer, nod your head very slightly as you do it. Sending out subtle positive messages like that can work wonders.

Have a “Get Out of Jail” card

One thing you must have when you go into any sales situation is a Get Out of Jail card. By that, I mean an excuse to get out of the shop if you find the pressure is getting a bit too intense.

Have a reason ready; something that salesperson can’t argue with. For example, I’ve got a dentist’s appointment in 10 minutes. I can’t cancel it. I’ve been waiting six weeks for this one; I’ve got to pick the children up from school; my husband/wife/partner is ill. I can’t talk to them about this until they’re better.

It will help take the heat off if the pressure of your haggle gets too much.


My advice is to always go for some extras as part of any deal you do.

Before you start talking to the sales staff, have a look around the shop or showroom for extras you would like to get for free as part of your deal.

Make sure your wish list is realistic. You’re not likely to persuade the salesperson to throw in expensive items as extras. But they may well include
some free accessories to go with the product you are buying, if you tell them it will seal the deal.

The time to raise the subject is when you have haggled hard and you feel sure the salesperson won’t drop any more on price.

Know which extras to go for when the time comes for that final push.

Don’t do it at the start of a negotiation as the seller will build that freebie into the final price – that’s not an extra at all.

Clinching the deal

No salesperson will throw you of the shop out for asking for discount, as long as you do it in a friendly and courteous way. Deals are there to be done, especially in the current credit crisis.

When you get that really good deal, the sense of satisfaction you feel is not just about the money you’ve saved, it is also about proving something to yourself. You’ve set yourself a challenge and come through as a winner.

It’s a major confidence boost and every time you barter for goods in a shop or showroom in future your skill will grow and grow. The more you do it, the better you get. That’s the way it works.

Overcoming red tape

When it comes to disputes of any kind, my approach starts with a simple idea – the squeaky wheel gets the oil.

The person who gets their complaint resolved is the one who takes things further and doesn’t accept a fob-off. Don’t give up, be persistent. Keep squeaking.

You must be firm when you present your complaint, but it pays to avoid confrontation. You need to state your case and keep a level head.

Getting your money back

When you believe you are within your legal rights and entitled to a refund, persistence is the name of the game.

Consumers are well-protected, regardless of how the purchase was made. For example, distance-selling regulations give protection to consumers who shop by phone, mail order, via the internet or digital television.

The protection includes the right to receive clear information about goods and services before deciding to buy, confirmation of this information in
writing, a cooling-off period of seven working days in which you can change your mind, and protection from credit card fraud.

Similarly, even if an item is out of warranty, the Sale of Goods Act covers you for six years from date of purchase for items which are defective.

When trying to get a refund, start with the retailer who sold it to you and remember to be courteous and polite, but firm as well. Give the retailer a chance to sort things out, and be patient.

Dom Littlewood is a BBC television presenter. Don’t Get Done, Get Dom: How to Stretch Your Money, Not Your Budget by Dominic Littlewood is published by Headline Business Plus at £14.99