Don’t Be a Wimp! 22 Things You Should Always Haggle For.

Last weekend I was at a barbecue with my friend, Jason, who told me a good-news bad-news story regarding a deal he got from DirecTV for their extremely popular NFL Sunday Ticket service that allows him to watch every out-of-market game during the entire football season.

After having NFL Sunday Ticket for several years, Jason finally decided to cancel the service because he felt it was no longer worth the price; but when he called DirecTV to cancel, they offered him a 20% discount if he agreed to keep the service. Well, thinking he got a great deal, Jason kept the service.

Unfortunately, he changed his mind after one of his colleagues told him he got his Sunday Ticket package from DirectTV for 55% off the regular price!

Oops.

The truth is, almost everything is negotiable.

Yes, haggling can be an uncomfortable process for some folks but, trust me, you can do it! The worst that can happen is you’ll be told “no.” Keep that in mind the next time you’re in the market for any of these products and services:

Satellite and cable television service. It’s not just premium package prices like NFL Sunday Ticket that can be reduced; determined customers can often get equipment fees waived, and get access to special non-advertised promotions. If your cable provider has a monopoly in your town, play them against the satellite providers.

Real estate commissions. Yes, real estate agents are expensive, but internet-based for-sale-by-owner services are encouraging many to accept rate reductions of a percentage point or even more. You can sweeten the offer by letting them represent you as the buyer on your next home — that way they’ll get two commissions.

Healthcare. Insurance paperwork is such a hassle, you can usually get discounts for medical services if you’re willing and able to pay cash.

Jewelry. You should rarely ever have to pay the sticker price at most fine jewelry establishments, whether they’re a private jeweler or a chain store; the retail markup is typically somewhere between 100% and 300% — and sometimes more.

College tuition. According to Forbes, you may be able to extract a discount from colleges and universities if they are attended by multiple siblings.

Furniture. Markups are typically upwards of 25%. Don’t forget to ask for free delivery.

Musical instruments. While haggling is not generally accepted at the chain stores, mom-and-pop establishments do negotiate. One such store I used to frequent typically shaved up to 33% off their sticker prices.

Gym memberships. The fact that gym contract terms will vary widely from one member to the next makes them ripe for negotiation. Gyms also realize there are plenty of cheaper ways to get fit. Shop around and be sure to play the best price off more expensive gyms. If you’re new, see if you can also get the initiation fees waived.

Cruise tickets. It’s true; the closer to sailing time, the more leverage you’ll have.

Credit card rates. If your mailbox is constantly inundated with annoying credit card offers, use them to your advantage. Call your credit card company and ask if they can match the best rates being offered by their competition.

Airline vouchers. Airlines typically offer a voucher for a few hundred bucks to entice folks to give up their tickets for overbooked flights. However, on two occasions I’ve been able to extract free round-trip tickets from desperate gate agents in need of a volunteer.

Mattresses. Most mattress brands typically come with enormous markups. One notable exception: Tempur-Pedic. And don’t be afraid to ask for extras like free delivery, old mattress disposal, pillows, bed pads and/or a metal bed frame either — especially if you’re paying cash.

Mortgages. Not only are the rates negotiable — especially for those with credit scores over 750 — but so are some of those ridiculous mortgage junk fees.

Big-ticket electronics and large appliances. Use the Internet to be fully aware of current market prices for whatever you’re interesting in buying, and then ask brick-and-mortar store managers to beat them.

Slightly marred products. Here’s one where you can haggle after you’ve already bought something. Assuming you catch it before the delivery truck leaves, furniture and appliances with small cosmetic dents or scratches present a golden opportunity to reduce the purchase price even more.

Automobiles. I know what you’re thinking: Thanks for that pearl of wisdom, Captain Obvious.

Car tires. Comparison shop and then ask the salesman beat the best price. And don’t be shy about asking for extras like tire stems, mounting, balancing, and even an extended tire warranty.

Rent. Here’s a quick tip: If you’re renewing a lease, you can get maximum leverage by opening the negotiations as far ahead of time as possible.

Lawn service. Competition ensures low prices. Here in Southern California, the competition between gardeners is fierce, so it’s relatively easy to play one against the other.

Plumbers. I have successfully negotiated lower prices with my plumber; trust me, that price book they like to pull out is not sacrosanct. For your health and safety, though, always make sure you only deal with a licensed contractor.

Income taxes. Admittedly, this isn’t always possible. But under the right set of circumstances, the IRS will agree to something called an offer-in-compromise. Especially if they think collection of the entire tax debt is unlikely.

See? Even the IRS recognizes that haggling has its benefits.

Photo Credit: bbaunach

 



Comments

  1. 1

    says

    Nice ideas – further reminder that EVERYTHING is negotiable, regardless of how outlandish or unlikely it seems. In the past when the economy was stronger, employees would balk at haggling or there wouldn’t even be a process in place to allow any flexibility. Now, there is. It means the difference between no revenue and “enough” revenue.

    • 2

      Len Penzo says

      I’m not afraid to negotiate for anything, Darwin. It’s all about testing the market and using it to my advantage — the quest to find the perfect price! Often times, it can be done very subtly. Usually phrases like, and “that’s the same good-guy deal I can get from [competitor]?” or “That’s not quite what I had planned on spending.” are enough to get the ball rolling.

  2. 3

    says

    I agree with the list….except…on musical instruments. The greatest markup may not be on a quality instrument and there is a wide range of quality out there. Better to get some advice from a knowledgeable person and buy on ebay. I am a musician and would not want to see a person stuck with a nearly unplayable china made clarinet etc. My husband has purchased quality items on ebay for a fraction of the value. You do have to know your product.

    • 4

      Len Penzo says

      Very interesting, Donna. Thanks for sharing that! You know, I originally wrote, musical “equipment” but changed it back to “instruments” for added clarity. I probably should have changed it back. LOL The stuff I bought from my favorite mom and pop shop consisted of everything from instruments (guitars) to support equipment like amplifiers, PA systems, electronic effect boxes, guitar and bass strings. All I can say is in my case, all the stuff I purchased was the quality “Made in America” stuff.

    • 7

      Len Penzo says

      Thanks for the tip, susannah! When I was doing my research I discovered a few other examples too (which I left off because I had trouble confirming them). Stuff like: trash hauling companies (the ones who drop dumpsters in front of your house); and heating oil (one guy said he had a 1000 gallon tank which allowed him to get better deals).

  3. 8

    says

    Excellent points! I negotiate with retail stores. When I bought my big screen TV, the salesman said they would match any other retail store price. I found one in New York (I’m in California). They matched and gave me a 10% bonus. hen they asked me if I would put it on their credit card. They sweetened the deal with another 10%.
    Bottom line, I received nearly a 40% discount. They since changed their policy to limit the retail stores in the area.

    • 9

      Len Penzo says

      We did the same thing with our TV! Fifteen minutes of comparison shopping on the Internet ended up saving us about $250! And I also negotiated an additional discount of $100 because we bought our refrigerator at the same time from the same place.

  4. 10

    Renae says

    We negotiated free NFL ticket with Direct TV after seeing that new subscribers get it for free. We pleaded our case that we have been customers for yrs and have watched the price increase dramatically while new customers get it free. We pay more so they can get it. $0 this yr. May cancel it next yr as >$300 is too much for this football fan. I encourage everyone to negotiate this.

  5. 12

    says

    It is amazing what you can save if you just ask. I remember when we rented our apartment and it was time to renew the lease. There was a special for new renters for one month’s rent free. I called up and asked for that and discussed what I great tenant I was, blah blah blah, and they gave it to me.

    I have also found that if at first you don’t succeed, try,try again. Sometimes all it takes is a different customer service rep on the phone to get what you want.

    • 13

      Len Penzo says

      Try, try, again is great advice, Kris. Before the Internet, I faithfully followed that rule when calling to buy airline tickets: If I wasn’t satisfied with a quoted price — hang up the phone and call again. I swear, I’d get a different price every time (sometimes higher, sometimes lower).

  6. 14

    says

    Great list! I try to negotiate a discount for as many things as possible, but there are a few here that I haven’t tried. I would never lower my rent though. The cost went up and there are a lot of renters out there.

    • 15

      Len Penzo says

      You make a good point, Joe. There are no guarantees the negotiations will always be a successful — like in the case of rent, or the IRS. Still it doesn’t hurt to try. I think more often than not, success will be in the cards when negotiating these items.

  7. 16

    tracee says

    I tried to negotiate at Best Buy, I was informed that they don’t work on commission so they really didn’t care if they made the sale. I sent an email to the regional manager and never heard a reply. I will not be shopping there ever again.
    HHGregg on the other hand was amazing.

    • 17

      Len Penzo says

      I know Sears was eager to work with us and drop their price when I told them we had found a better deal at Best Buy, of all places. (Sorry to bring up a sore subject with you.) I don’t think I’ve ever really tried to negotiate at Best Buy — I’m almost taking it as a challenge though, to see if I can do it.

  8. 18

    says

    Len, I like the one about marred items….most people don’t think to haggle about this.

    I just bought a mini-fridge, hauled it down to my basement and when I took it out of the box it had a huge dent in the side. Of course it was going underneath my countertop and I wasn’t about to haul it back up the steps, so rather than return it, I called the store up and asked for a discount….they gave me back 10%….not too bad.

    • 19

      Len Penzo says

      We did that with a buffet table we bought. There was a small mar on the side and we got an additional 10 percent off. The mark is inconsequential and not even noticeable unless you know where to look.

      It’s usually not worth it for the retailer to take those marred items back and then make a return delivery to your home, so in those cases folks have a lot of leverage.

  9. 20

    Tim says

    Real estate commissions you should absolutely negotiate…its just so expensive to get your home sold, and in these markets most are taking a loss. Had a friend use the services of a company called sundaybell that matches you with whatever agent you want….supposedly you can negotiate services and commissions online and its as easy as anything…worth a look imo.

  10. 22

    Ella says

    I agree with you, as well as what Darwin’s Money said in the reply list. Everything is negotiable and you should never pay the sticker price,especially some luxuries. Some sites,such as CouponSnapshot.com,RetailMeNot.com and so on, provide coupons & deals for you and you will fall in love with them.When I shop online,I like to chat with the online ESQ and ask for free shipping or $ off.Luckily, I succeed almost every time.

    • 23

      Len Penzo says

      Okay, Ella, you got me. What is an online ESQ? This is something I think I need to learn a little more about!

  11. 25

    says

    needed clothes for a job, went to a major department store and picked out some things,told my wife i would get some of it for free, socks ties etc, i made sure i spent at least 2 hours on his time….remember time is sometimes money…he totaled it, i could see in his eyes he was counting his commission….then i popped the question, i need two ties and several pairs of socks, he got them and started to add them to the total, i told him he needed to throw those in for free to make the sale, the wife almost s)(* her pants….i had told her i was going to get them for free and she did not believe i could do ti…end result i got what i wanted the salesman at this major department was no happy but did it to make the sale…

  12. 27

    says

    I’ll take your college tuition idea a step further – see if you can negotiate an increased scholarship because another university has offered more to you. It worked for me. The school I wanted to attend was offering me an academic scholarship that was half the size of a related school. I told my school of choice and they agreed to up my academic scholarship.

  13. 28

    Ray says

    Both my wife and I were in need of new eyeglasses.Went to walmart first and got a decent price.Then we shopped Bj’s and sams and got prices. Went back to walmart,got 20% off the second pair (it was an ongoing sale) ,haggled and begged (-:: a bit and got an additional $90. off buying the two pair. Bj’s had a bogo deal,but the $100.frames felt flimsier that the walmart $38.frames.Bottom line is that the original quote at walmart was $564. for two pair and we walked out spending only $419. for the two.

  14. 33

    says

    I love that you added Real Estate commissions. They are definitely negotiable nowadays and it never hurts to ask if you can get a lower rate. Even a small change can make a big difference when you’re buying a house that cost several hundred thousand dollars.

  15. 35

    says

    I always haggle when possible. I use an app called RedLaser that allows you to scan the barcode on an item and get the best prices in stores near you. I simply show the store price and most stores will match the price.

  16. 36

    MrsWheat says

    It may be too late to weigh in on this issue, but I think it’s just plain wrong to negotiate with people who work hard and don’t make very much money to begin with. Gardeners do hard physical labor in all kinds of weather. Salespeople make very low wages and depend on commissions to make ends meet. I pay the going rate for their services and find other ways to economize.

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