Haggling doesn't always come naturally, but Which? research suggests that it's easier than you may think, and for some purchases, it's becoming commonplace to question the price.
This guide will show you how to haggle successfully over the phone, in shops and online.
What is haggling?
Retailers want you to think a price on a label or website is final, but often it isn't. Haggling can often bring the price of an item or subscription down and get you freebies thrown in to boot.
The latest Which? research found customers who haggle saved an average of £128 per year on broadband and TV packages, £85 a year on broadband bills, and £35 per year on mobile contracts.
It might seem awkward if you're not the kind of person who usually haggles, but the rewards can be plentiful, and certain service providers and retailers, like broadband and mobile networks, actually expect customers to haggle anyway.
Once you know what you're doing, you might not find it so uncomfortable after all.
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 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 over the phone or in shops.
1. Time 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.
Instead, wait until your contract ends and contact your provider to get yourself a discount.
2. Speak 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.
3. Be polite
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.
Here's an example of how the conversation could go if you're haggling for a mobile phone deal:
4. Make 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.
5. Be flexible
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.
6. Show, 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.
7. Point 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.
8. Use 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.
9. Don'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.
10. Use our scripts
A number of retailers now offer online chat services to help you get instant answers to any queries you might have about its products.
You can use these to haggle with the same tips as above, just in written message format rather than over the phone. For some first-time hagglers, this might be a more comfortable option.