was the last time you went shopping and got a bargain? Not the kind of bargain you
get when a store has a big sale, but a bargain that you make by negotiating
with the seller? If you're like most consumers, your answer probably is "Never."
If you bargain over price at all, maybe you do it in flea markets where, popular
wisdom tells us, vendors "expect to bargain." You'd never dream of bargaining in a
Why is that? We're a nation of shoppers who rally to the cry, "Never pay full retail!" So why are we reluctant to actively bargain for the best price? And why do we think bargaining is appropriate only in some settings?
It may have something to do with the notion that it's impolite to talk about money, a bit of etiquette that makes it hard for us to broach the subject in any context. Also, we know that stores determine prices within a formal system that lacks flexibility. Manufacturers set prices for their goods; each industry has norms for markup; and stores, especially chains, have uniform pricing standards and high overhead costs.
Finally, bargaining often is thought to be the domain of the hard-nosed haggler, no place for the genteel shopper.
None of that, however, should keep you from bargaining for a lower price in the retail arena. With an attitude adjustment and a strategy, you can become adept at bargaining for everything from a refrigerator to a diamond ring.
Adopt this motto
as the linchpin
It doesn't hurt
|It's all in your attitude|
Let's start with the taboo about talking about money. Parents tell their children this so they won't tell the neighbors about the family's finances. In that context, the taboo makes sense. Sometimes, though, refusing to talk plainly about money puts you at a disadvantage. Shopping is one of those timesbecause shopping is largely about money. If the seller is the only one who talks about moneyby setting the priceyou either can pay up or walk out. However, if you talk back, you have more options and one of them may be a better deal.
As for the structured pricing of the retail systemit has plenty of room for bargaining, especially because so few people do it. The manufacturer's suggested retail price is just thata suggestion. Feel free to take it or make one of your own.
Retail markupthe difference between an item's cost to the retailer and its selling priceis where retailers make their profit. It varies by industry and ranges from a low of about 15% on large appliances to 100% on clothing, with most items falling between 30% and 60%. Specialty retailers know they can't get full markup on every item they stock. The smart ones prefer to keep things moving out the door, even at a deep discount. That's how they make room for new stock at full markup!
One last, and critical adjustment: You don't have to be hard-nosed to bargain. In bargaining, as in other exchanges, the aggressive approach rarely pays off. Instead, be assertive without being adversarial. While retailers don't expect to bargain, most are willing to talk reasonably about reducing a price and many actually do it. So adopt this motto as the linchpin of your attitude adjustment: It doesn't hurt to ask. The simple question, "What's the best price you can give me on this?" can get you pleasant results.
Effective bargaining isn't accidental. To succeed as a bargainer, you have to be prepared. Start with a strategy:
Finally, remember that the best deal isn't always defined by the lowest price, and price isn't just about product. Things like availability, delivery, installation and assembly, and service have value, too. The rock-bottom price on a bike is no bargain if it doesn't include a warranty.
To your new attitude and wealth of information, add experience. On the next big purchase you make, try out your bargaining skills. Don't be discouraged by poor results; try again next time. Practice and experience will give you confidence and the savings you want.
are willing to
is just that
|©1999 Credit Union National Association, Inc.|