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 recently got from DirecTV for their extremely popular NFL Sunday Ticket service. For those who don’t know, NFL Sunday Ticket allows viewers to watch every out of market game for the entire football season.

Well, after having that package for several years, Jason finally decided to cancel the service because he felt it was no longer worth the $335 price tag. Much to his surprise, when he called DirecTV to cancel, they proposed knocking $60 off the price. Thinking he got a great deal, Jason quickly accepted their offer. Of course, his satisfaction was tempered somewhat, however, after hearing that a colleague haggled a little harder and, as a result, got his Sunday Ticket package for — get this — $150!

Oops.

The truth is, most 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.”

And if you need additional motivation, know that those who are willing to haggle often reap significant rewards — so 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 the price of premium packages like Direct TV NFL Sunday Ticket that can be reduced. Determined customers can often get equipment fees waived, and be included in special promotions they may not otherwise have been eligible for or aware of. 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 FSBO 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 never pay the sticker price on jewelry 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. Forbes suggests that you may be able to extract a discount from colleges and universities if they are attended by multiple siblings. Sounds reasonable to me.

Furniture. Markups are typically upwards of 25 percent. 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 regularly frequent typically shaved 25 to 33 percent 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 in exchange for you signing the contract.

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. Even though airlines will often offer a measly $200 or $400 voucher to entice folks to give up their tickets for overbooked flights, on two occasions, I have successfully extracted free round-trip tickets from desperate gate agents in need of one more volunteer.

Mattresses. With the exception of Tempur-Pedic mattresses, most other brands typically come with enormous markups. 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 the manager 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. The thing is, if I didn’t include this, I’d be flooded with emails wondering how I could leave cars off the list. Oh, yes.

Car tires. Comparison shop and ask the dealer to meet or beat the best price. And don’t forget to see if he’ll also include 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 realizes haggling has its benefits.

Photo Credit: bbaunach

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

  • 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.

    • Len Penzo

      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.

  • 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.

    • Len Penzo

      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.

  • I agree with most of this list. I have found that you can have even more success when buying used from the classifieds or even craigslist.

  • susannah

    Moving companies also negotiate, or at least they did five years ago when I called Budget for a cross country move.

    • Len Penzo

      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).

  • 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.

    • Len Penzo

      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.

  • Renae

    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.

  • 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.

    • Len Penzo

      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).

  • 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.

    • Len Penzo

      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.

  • tracee

    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.

    • Len Penzo

      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.

  • 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.

    • Len Penzo

      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.

  • Tim

    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.

  • Ella

    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.

  • carrie

    Why haggle, people give a lot of good stuff away.

  • 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…

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