Saving Cents: Haggling for bargains

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by By Sherry Williams / 11 News

khou.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:23 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 9 at 3:12 PM

HOUSTON-A great way to save money is to not pay full price, but our American culture seems to frown upon haggling in stores.

It's viewed as jumping to the front of the line-something you just don't do, according to University of Houston Bauer College of Business professor Betsy Gelb.

But certain stores will give you a break on the price, if you simply ask.

Here are Professor Gelb's three tips for successfully negotiating a lower price:

Be nice -- "You want that person (the salesperson) to be your advocate, and if you're nasty, that person is thinking, 'It's not worth it,'" said Gelb. If it's not worth it to the salesperson, they'll be less likely to argue their case when they " go to the back" to consult with a manager.

Be realistic-A store is not going to sell you something for $49 that has a price tag of $250.

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Be ready to walk-Professor Gelb said to have a flexible mindset, knowing that if the store will not agree to the price you want, you will leave. But don't leave in a huff.

She said certain stores will not negotiate with you, like grocery stores or discount retailers like Wal-Mart and Target. Gelb also said it can be hard to haggle over clothing costs in a department store, because those items typically move fast. It is easier to haggle over the price of an item that has been sitting on the shelf for a while.

So just what do you say when you're negotiating? Gelb has a few suggestions:

"I want that item but I only have $55 to spend. May I have it for that amount?"

If the sales person says, "No," ask nicely to see the manager,or ask if they will take your request to the manager themselves.

"I see this sofa has not sold in five months. I'm prepared to buy it today for (make an offer)."

"I've been shopping around for this item at your competitor's stores. Store X has it on sale for (dollar amount.) If you will match their price, I will buy it from you."

If your attempt to bargain does not work, the worst thing that will happen is the sales person will tell you no.

Still, Gelb said for some people, that is enough of a deterrent.

They see it as a personal rejection or failure and they find it just too embarrassing, she said.

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