Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Negotiating a Better Price on Household Goods

Have you ever seen something in the store that you just had to have, but the price tag made you think twice? Wouldn't it be nice if you could shave a few dollars off the price?  In many cases you can.  It's often just a matter of asking.  For many people, talking about money is uncomfortable, and negotiating price is no exception.  I've always been hesitant to negotiate, but after watching my husband (who does a lot of negotiating as part of his job), I've learned a few techniques that make the process easier. 
First and Foremost, Don't Be Afraid to Ask for a Discount
You may think certain stores never give discounts, or that certain merchandise is non-negotiable, but you never know until you ask. What's the worst thing that could happen?  The person you ask might say no, and the two of you will go on with your days.  Or, they might say yes and you'll end your day with a few extra dollars in your pocket.

For example, one year I was in charge of going to Target to purchase Angel Tree gifts with the money my daughter's class had collected. I really wanted to get as many toys and clothing items as I could for the Angel, so I decided to ask for a discount. I never thought that a big department store like Target would give me a discount, but I figured it couldn't hurt to ask. I explained my situation to the manager, and he gave me 10% off the purchase.

Thank you, Target!!!

Ask Nicely
These canvases retail for $589 for the pair in the Ballard Designs catalog.Custom Soliloquy Giclee Print
Whew, that seems like a lot of money to hang on the walls, not to mention I would have had to pay shipping and tax (yes, Ohio residents pay tax on Ballard orders).  Lucky for me I live near a Ballard Designs outlet.  I headed to the outlet and was fortunate enough to find the exact same pieces for $199 each.  Less than $400 for the pair was better, but I still felt a little uncomfortable about spending that much money for mass produced art.  So, when the salesperson came my way, I told her how much I loved the canvases, but that I was a little hesitant to spend all that money at once.  I asked her if they ever offer discounts.  She said they often do, and she would ask the manager.  Sure enough, she came back and offered to sell me the pieces for $169 each.  I imagine her response would have been quite different if my attitude had been rude or if I had insulted the merchandise. Instead, we had a nice conversation and I complemented the merchandise. Now, those beautiful canvases are hanging in my living room.

Before I left, my helpful salesperson mentioned that the store will usually take 15-20% (depending on the store's cost) if the customers asks.  Good to know.  That leads me to my next tip...

Know Which Stores Will Negotiate
In this Family Circle article from November 2008, Pam Kramer tells us which types of stores are likely to negotiate and which ones aren't.
There may be exceptions to these rules, such as in the case of my Target story or damaged merchandise.  I always try to negotiate if there is a significant flaw or damage.
    Be Familiar With Your Merchandise.  In another example from my local Ballard outlet, I spotted some Olivia side table frames priced at $99. 
    Ballard Designs Olivia Mirrored Side Table
    They were missing the mirrored tops.  I knew that the retail price of the tables, if perfect, was $149, but I also knew that the perfect tables were on sale for $99.  I politely asked the salesperson why the tables without tops were being sold for the same price as the perfect tables.  After consulting the catalog and verifying that I knew what I was talking about, the salesperson offered me the imperfect table frames for $69 each.   Now I've got two of them in my living room.  I had to spend about $20 each to get the glass cut, but that's still a savings of $10 per table, not to mention that I didn't have to pay shipping.

    Being familiar with the merchandise also saved me some cash when I went to Best Buy to purchase a portrait lens for my camera.  Have you seen the Canon 50 mm 1.8 lens? 
    All the cool kids have one (by that I mean all the cool bloggers), so I had to jump on the bandwagon and get one for myself.  Before heading to the store, I looked online and found that the lens was on sale for $108.99.  However, when I got to the store, it was marked at $125.99.  I asked the salesperson about the price difference, and she happily gave me the sale price.  Now I've got a shiny new camera lens and an extra $17 in my pocket.  Now, if only I could figure out how to work the lens...
    My savings may seem insignificant, but believe me, they are beginning to add up. 
    Loyal Customers Are Valued Customers
    Customer Loyalty

    My husband likes to buy most of his electronic equipment at one place (HHGregg) for two reasons.  First of all, he knows that the salespeople at that store will negotiate (see tip number three).  Secondly, he knows that the salespeople there are aware of his many past purchases, and they want to keep him happy so that he will continue to purchase from them in the future.  That's his bargaining chip at that particular store.  When we moved into this house, we had nothing but old tube televisions.  We decided it was time to replace a few of them.  Hubs bought three televisions from the same store, and negotiated a great deal because he was buying several.  When it came time to replace the kids' computers, we headed back to HHGregg and mentioned our previous purchases.  Because of our loyalty, the salesperson knocked $75 off the price of each computer.  It felt great to save $150 on one transaction.
    I know there are many other negotiating tactics that people use when trying to get a lower price.  These are just a few that have worked well for me.  I think the main piece of advice I would give anyone trying to get a good deal is "ask."  The deals aren't going to seek you out, and chances are your salesperson is not going to voluntarily offer you a deal.  You may feel uncomfortable at first, but after a few times it will feel like no big deal.
    Do you have a favorite negotiating technique?  Please share the wealth, so to speak, and leave your tip in the comment section.

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