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Haggling is fun! Yes, you heard it here first! Haggling is comprised of deal making, arguing particular points, and, ultimately, winning a game.
I witnessed my first haggling experience during a street fair in Italy. I remember my very bold and sassy aunt telling a street vendor that his shoes were too expensive and that she couldn’t believe he was making any money! The shoes being sold were all-leather sandals made by hand; they were, from my perspective, a pretty good deal on a good product. My aunt named a price and the back and forth started with extreme intensity. My aunt argued that she could walk a few hundred meters and find the same pair of sandals for a bit less and that she was also thinking of buying more than one pair. The street vendor lowered his price and pointed my aunt to another similar product that was being sold at the price she wanted. My aunt countered with the fact the he wasn’t going low enough and that the other pair of shoes were of less quality. My aunt began walking away and the street vendor yelled at a price that was fair and my aunt came back. She tried one more price point and the vendor said, look, you’re going to drive me out of business, do you want the shoes? My aunt purchased a single pair of shoes and got about 35% off the advertised price. When the vendor called her back she knew she was going to get a good price.
Haggling requires a little showmanship and the ability to be bold and logical. You won’t always get the price you want, but the game doesn’t require you to buy (so if the price isn’t right simply walk away). I’ve haggled on everything from contractor services and clothing to wine and appliances. I’ve been laughed at by sellers and yelled at for demanding too low a price. At the end of the day, however, there are tons of sellers who will offer the product you want at the price you are willing to pay; the trick is to not want the product too much and be willing to wait for the right vendor.
Here are some quick tips on how to haggle:
1. Never settle for the advertised price as it’s always marked up.
2. Start your counter-offer at about half of what you are willing to pay and set a limit in your mind. The seller will always want to go up in increments because he knows that you’re playing the haggling game
3. Mention to the seller that you have many friends and relatives who are interested in buying from him and that you will promote his product or services to them (most small businesses rely on word of mouth marketing). Also, Ask the seller for business cards so you can pass them out to friends and family
5. Before you plan on making a purchase do your research and a get a sense for the quality of the product and what other folks are selling the item for (many shops <online included> price match).
6. Mention, or better yet, suggest to the seller that you don’t need the product he is selling and are willing to wait for the right price.
7. Mention to the seller you will pay in cash (the credit card has killed the art of haggling).
8. Smile and use your charm, but stay composed and cool (sellers will pick up on your intentions if you seem nervous and really want the product).
9. Don’t be ashamed or too proud.
10. Be ready to walk away.
11. You can haggle on most products and services (including large ticket items such as appliances, cars, electronics, house, and small items such as clothing, shoes, etc.). Everything is negotiable.
Note: Thanks to Simon for the photo above!