Getting a great deal
By Joe Elvin
We share our advice on how to haggle successfully, including a range of expert tips on haggling in shops and haggling via online chat.
Haggling doesn't always come naturally, but Which? research suggests that it's easier than you may think and in some areas of life, it's becoming commonplace.
How to save £500 a year by haggling
In autumn 2015, we surveyed more than 3,000 Which? members about their experiences of haggling over the price of several products and services, and most told us they had negotiated substantial discounts.
77% of those who haggled over their mobile phone contract got a better deal, as did 82% who haggled with their car breakdown cover.
Our research indicates that you could save an average of £152 by haggling over these two services, plus a further £374 by questioning the price of your broadband bundle, car insurance and home insurance renewals. So you could save more than £500 by making just a handful of phone calls a year.
For a rundown of service providers that are most receptive to haggling, as well as field-tested scripts to help you seal a better deal, see the following guides:
- How to haggle for better mobile phone deals
- How to haggle for better home insurance deals
- How to haggle for better car insurance deals
- How to haggle for better broadband deals
- How to haggle when buying a second-hand car
10 tips to help you haggle successfully
The key to a successful haggle is showing that you can get what you want cheaper elsewhere, and that you're happy to go to the alternative source.
After all, most sellers would rather keep you as a customer than lose the sale altogether.
Below we have listed 10 other useful tips to improve your chances of securing a discount when bartering over goods and services.
For more detailed advice about haggling in high street shops, see our videos further down the page.
1Time your haggle strategically
If you're in the middle of a fixed-term contract, you may have to pay a cancellation fee to get out of it. This can work against you in negotiations.
Our free Emindme email reminder service can alert you before a contract expires, so you call to haggle at the opportune time.
2Speak to the right person
If you're after a better deal on your broadband, insurance or another service, it's best to initially tell the customer service adviser that you want to cancel. Often, you’ll be passed on to the retention team, who typically have the power to offer the most tempting deals.
If you’re haggling in a shop, seek out an assistant manager or a supervisor, as they often have more discretion to authorise discounts than other staff members.
Being aggressive is likely to make the salesperson dig in their heels. Sellers aren't obliged to cut the price of their products, so you're better off being sincere and empathetic, and making an effort to build rapport.
4Make it clear you're serious
Sales staff are more willing to cut the price of a one-off purchase if you suggest you're ready to buy the item or service there and then. After all, many have monthly or quarterly sales targets to meet. Show a genuine interest in the product and ask plenty of questions about it. Offering to pay in cash may help, too.
Rather than offering you a discount, a salesperson may try to win your custom by throwing in extras for free. If you're refused money off, try asking for a discount on any accessories you fancy. You might be able to secure some extra data with your mobile phone contract, for example.
6Show, don't tell
If you're haggling face-to-face, bring evidence of better deals you've seen, such as an advert from a competitor. Try approaching a salesperson during quieter times so they have time to negotiate with you. It'll be harder if you're battling for their attention on a busy weekend afternoon.
7Point out flaws
Always point out any signs of wear and tear you spot on a product in order to justify asking for a discount. This is a commonly used tactic when haggling for a car or a display item.
8Use silence to your advantage
It’s a classic negotiation technique to remain silent after stating what you’re after. This silence often feels awkward and the other party will commonly fill it by offering you a better deal.
9Don't be afraid to walk away
Remember that you and the salesperson have the same goal, which is to finalise a sale. Often, it's the party most willing to walk away from negotiations who ends up with a deal they want. If you're not offered a satisfactory deal, don't be afraid to start walking.
10Use our scripts
How to haggle in shops – expert tips
Which? reveals what shop staff don’t want you to know – the tactics for getting sales staff to drop the price.
Our haggling insider, whose identity we have concealed, has been a shop-floor manager in some of the UK’s best-known stores, including a mobile phone shop and furniture chains.
In the video below, he reveals the buying signals you give off that shop staff are trained to spot, and gives advice on how to take control when you're bargaining with shop staff. He also encourages you to try to walk away if you don't get the deal you want to start with – and see what shop staff will offer you as a result.
In the second video, find out what actions are most likely to convince retailers to offer a discount, and which products are worth haggling over.
Haggling in online chat
Which? research has shown it's possible to cut the cost of your online shopping by haggling via online chat services.
A number of retailers now offer online chat services to help you get instant answers to any queries you might have about its products.
In February 2016, we checked hundreds of websites, including all of those in our list of best and worst online shops to see if we could negotiate over the price of their goods.
We noted whether the website offered an online chat service, how easy it was to make contact with a salesperson, and whether we were able to secure a discount on a product.
Our biggest wins included a 10% discount on a £1,350 laptop from dell.com and a 20% discount on a £108 pair of trainers from nike.com.
The table below summarises the results of our haggling attempts. We weren't successful on every occasion, but it's still well worth haggling where an online chat service is available as the outcome is likely to vary depending on who you speak to and when you make your enquiry.
- Last updated: June 2016
- Updated by: Joe Elvin