Money Your Budget Ten secrets to becoming a champion haggler
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Ten secrets to becoming a champion haggler

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Most of us love a bargain. But when we come face-to-face with a salesperson while buying something, embarrassment can stop us asking for – or demanding – a better deal.

But repeat after me: paying full retail is for suckers. So why deny yourself the thrill of the chase – and the opportunity to nab a brag-worthy bargain?

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Here are 10 tips to landing the deal of the century.

1. Price match

Sometimes saving a few bucks is as simply as finding a better price from a competitor via your smartphone. Companies such as Jetstar, Officeworks, JB Hi-Fi, Flight Centre, Dan Murphy’s and Harvey Norman all offer best price guarantees. It pays to read the fine print, as there are often strings attached.

If the store you want to buy from doesn’t have a best price guarantee, ask anyway.

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JB Hi-Fi is one of many retailers that offers best price guarantees.

2. Do your research

Going into battle prepared is not just about finding the best price. Knowing the ins and outs of the product can also help you eliminate unnecessary features and negotiate a better deal.

3. Schmooze or lose

Strike up a good rapport with the salesperson and you’re halfway there. A few jokes and a smile can get you much further than an aggressive attitude – though that’s been known to get the desired result too.

4. Cash is king

When author Leo Willcocks was a student, he wanted to buy his girlfriend an engagement ring but was a little short of cash.

“I realised that jewellery shops often have sales of 50 to 70 per cent off, so this means that there was room to haggle,” says Mr Willcocks, who also knew they loved cash.

The ring he wanted was $2500. The salesperson was willing to knock off $350 – then another $100.

“I told her that she still needed to do better. All up she knocked off $1000.”

5. Take your time

You’re not in a hurry, but the salesperson will likely want to lock you into a sale pronto. Playing hard to get never hurts.

 6. Don’t take the first offer

A friend, who prefers to remain nameless, recently knocked $150 off her contents insurance.

Calling to inquire why the cost had gone up, she was given a “lame excuse”.

Australian dollar
Cash is king.

“I said: ‘Well, as a loyal customer for the past two years who hasn’t made a single claim why should I stay with you?”

She was offered $80 off, but went one step further, asking them to go through every aspect of her policy, cutting a further $70.

7. Find the sweet spot

Jay Chubb negotiated on pretty much everything while setting up his Melbourne business Nest Coworking.

“Gumtree was almost a daily event,” says Mr Chubb.

Wanting to deck the place out with original Eames chairs, he found someone selling secondhand models (worth around $3800 each new) for $800.

He bought 10, negotiating the price down to $500 a pop.

Mr Chubb, a seasoned haggler, says it’s important “to find that sweet spot where it’s not so low it’s ridiculous”.

“I generally aim for about 50 per cent of what they offer. It’s like casting the net.”

8. Don’t relinquish the power

Mr Chubb had negotiated for a six-year lease on his offices. However, after spending $100,000 renovating, he realised he was only halfway through, and he’d need to extend the lease to 12 years to make any money.

It pays to be a bit cheeky.
It pays to be a bit cheeky.

“It was the worst beating I ever took on a negotiation,” he says. “If you’re not prepared to walk, then you don’t have any power.”

9. Be as cheeky as possible

When it comes to Gumtree, Mr Chubb will often text a seller asking if they’d be willing to consider a lower offer.

“I like to behave very respectfully while offering very disrespectful prices,” he laughs.

10. No discount? Try and get a freebie

Sometimes your best haggling efforts will land you nada. But fear not – you may still be in with a chance for free stuff!

Buying a new laptop? Perhaps the retailer is willing to throw in a cover. Buying a bike? Anything less than a free helmet would be scandalous.

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