#950 Sharpen Your Bargaining Skills

2 Jan

Bargaining in a foreign language may end up getting you "more than you bargained for." They gave me two pairs instead of one - I didn't argue.

Bargaining in a foreign language may end up getting you “more than you bargained for.” They gave me two pairs instead of one – I didn’t argue.

Start with the rule – Never Buy Anything Without Bargaining. If you’re buying mostly second-hand, this should be relatively easy to do. The basics of bargaining are : See price, offer new, lower price, negotiate from there. You’re not going to hurt your chances if you bargain. If anything, you’re going to be saving money, which is the ultimate goal. If you don’t end up with a successful negotiation, it might help you sort out in your mind whether you really want to buy it and what price you’re willing to pay for it.

If  you thought, “this is such a great price,” to begin with…but still negotiated as a good, thrifty-minded person will do and ended up with a better price, then you’re doing the happy dance all the way home. If you ended up agreeing to the original price, then you’re still doing the happy dance. Like I said, bargaining never hurts.

I even bargain at regular stores by saying things like “I noticed this has XYZ that’s not quite right, can you take something off.” Or “this display model is a bit worn around the edges – do you have a new one in stock (usually the answer is no)… O.K. then can you give me X% off?” Or “I’m really interested but a bit on the fence, can you throw something in with this to sweeten the deal.” The nice thing about first-hand stores is that they are eager to please with many employees who readily give out 10 or 20 percent off.

No matter where you are, be nicely critical of the item to strengthen your position.

No matter where you are, be nicely critical of the item to strengthen your position.

There are a few tricks I use… like trying to pick the least grumpy looking person. Or, sexist, but picking a man (as I am a woman) to talk to. Men would obviously pick a non-grumpy woman. Sometimes this backfires though, so you have to read the person and situation a bit beforehand. It can’t be insanely busy in the store or the employee will be too distracted. I state my request nicely and usually with a degree of innocent concern. If necessary, I repeat myself clearly, but in a slightly different way every time so I’m saying the same thing over again, without saying the same thing over again. It’s never more than a couple minutes of my time.

Of course in places or countries where bargaining is expected…yard sales, flea markets, Morocco, Egypt…there is no excuse for not bargaining. If you’re one of those people who are feeling apprehensive about bargaining. Then here are a few tips:

  • Practice what you’re going to say and decide on the price you want beforehand. This will help you be confident and clear when you speak up.
  • Open the dialogue nicely and state what you want clearly. “Hi, this is a great chair you have here. Would you take $100 for it?”
  • Be confident and continue to talk to the owner or employee. If they don’t want to budge, decide whether to walk away. Remain friendly, but feel free to point out “flaws” that can strengthen your bargaining position.
  • Practice makes perfect. The more your bargain, the better you get at it. Like anything, the more practice the better. It’s argued that a lot of “geniuses” weren’t really “geniuses,” just really well practiced. Become a genius bargainer.
  • Try the old “walk away” trick. This works best in flea markets or Arab countries. It also works best when you know the owner or employee wants the sale, but isn’t cooperating as much as you would like on the price. Literally, shake your head, say thanks and walk away. Chances are they’ll chase you down and agree to your price or one closer to it. I’ve had people run after me down the street after walking away, so it really does work.
  • It might take more than once. If you establish rapport with the store owner, and they know you and what you’re interested in, you may have to come in multiple times before they sell you the item at a negotiated price. Of course in the meantime someone may buy it, but it’s worth the risk. This is best for items that you might want, but really are out of your budget range. The owner may eventually be willing to come within your budget range for the item after several visits. This works best for antique or rug stores, and obviously it has to be close to home or during a longer vacation in order to establish the relationship and bargain more than once.

Bargaining. Try it. I promise you’ll save money, and be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is.

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