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The Secret to Saving on Practically Anything

The Secret to Saving on Practically Anything

Appliances, clothing, even groceries—many items can be had for less if you follow these expert negotiating tips.

By SEIU Member Benefits

Sure, you can negotiate the price of a house or a car. But have you done the same for an appliance? Or a sofa? Or a big-screen TV? Or a steak?

Yes, you can negotiate on these and other products as well—as long as you realize how motivated a manager or owner is to sell them. While less than one-half of shoppers attempt to bargain on everyday goods and services, nine out of ten who do will save money, according to Consumer Reports. To get the most—for as little as possible—consider these tips:

Be nice. There’s no reason to become confrontational while haggling. You’re far, far more likely to succeed if you present your case while pleasantly engaging sales staffers and/or store managers.

Buy in bundles. When you combine two or more items, you gain leverage to cut the overall cost.

Do your homework. Find great bargains from the “online only” companies and print out the most favorable ones—not just for cost, but for warranties, free shipping and tax-free transactions. Then, go to your business of choice with the research. You’ll want to work up the “food chain” to get to a manager who has authority to deal.

Look for returns, floor models, overstocks and ‘abandoned’ special orders. Consumers return items for a wide range of reasons—many of which have nothing to do with quality—and that detracts from their ‘brand new’ value. Meanwhile, from a business perspective, overstocks and special orders that are never picked up simply represent excess inventory taking up valuable space.

Take advantage of ‘sell by’ dates. It’s standard operating procedure for supermarkets to mark down produce on ‘sell by’ dates, given that the grocer has only one day to clear it out. However, there are opportunities before that day for dairy, baked goods, meats and anything else with an expiration date to negotiate the prices.

‘Whittle down’ the big ticket. Do you suffer from sticker shock when looking for big-screen TVs, furniture, appliances, jewelry, etc.? Then reduce the pain factor by talking the retailer down. Sales reps stand to make a ton of commission on big-ticket items, so they’re highly motivated to sell.

Ask for ‘stuff.’ Dropping phrases such as “Can we knock off the tax?” or “Is free delivery available?” or “Could I have this assembled for me?” often result in a “Yes!” Retailers pay sales taxes, for example, but might be willing to mark it down. You just need to ask.

Pay cash. Merchants get charged fees when you use a credit card. If you offer them cash in hand, you save them money on a transaction.

Point out flaws. While you don’t want to disparage merchandise, you can kindly draw attention to various chips, markings and other imperfections. Most managers will discount these items.

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