Questions to ask to negotiate a better price
Who says you have to pay full retail price for everything? These eight questions could help you score a better deal while shopping.
Negotiating often means having to be a little bit pushy and understanding basic psychological techniques in order to get a good deal. Because of this, many of us forgo negotiating and continue paying retail price for almost everything we purchase.
We often forget, however, how simply asking for a discount can save money, thereby avoiding the need for negotiating tactics. It's a simple idea but here are eight questions you can ask that could save you big bucks.
1. Does This Expired Coupon Still Work?
Many of us are guilty of clipping coupons for future use, and then forgetting about them only to realize they've expired. Instead of throwing away the expired coupon, take it to the store and ask if they will accept it, anyway.
Bed, Bath, and Beyond offers this for all of their coupons, and Walmart will take expired coupons as long as the register doesn't read it as such. So, don't let the expiration date fool you.
2. Is This the Best Price You Can Offer?
When working with smaller boutique shops, or thrift stores, they expect you to negotiate. Asking if this is the final price, or the best they can do, will often get you a bit of money knocked off the final price.
If they aren't willing to budge, try walking away and seeing if they come down on their price. If not, just be patient and look for another salesperson who's willing to negotiate on price.
3. Can You Match a Competitor's Price?
Big stores like Target and Lowe's will often match a competitor's advertised price on the same object simply by asking. You can either bring in the competitor's weekly circular displaying the price of the exact same item, or use your smartphone to bring up the webpage that displays the price online.
In some cases, you can even submit the price of a competitor after the fact, and receive a refund for the difference. This is another reason why it's important to save your receipts.
4. I Want to Cancel My Service — Is There a Better Deal?
Threatening to cancel your Internet or cable TV service isn't a negotiating tactic you should use all the time, but if you're in the process of moving, or evaluating your yearly expenses, this could be the perfect time to ask this question.
Most companies will offer a six-month promotion, or other short-term deal, in order to keep you as a customer. Simply let them know that you're thinking of switching services, or cancelling altogether, and ask if they can offer a better deal for you to stay with their service.
5. Will You Take $X If I Pay in Cash?
Nothing is a stronger negotiating strategy than cold hard cash. Ask the cashier or sales rep if they will take $X amount of money if you pay the entire balance in cash. Maybe even flash the cash you have as a way to let them know you're serious.
Most of the time they will consider this option, especially when you're buying a car, since the dealership can avoid additional red tape from loans and the fees.
6. Can We Barter Services Free of Charge?
If you have a particular set of skills, you may be able to barter services in exchange for something you need. I offer my landlord bookkeeping services in exchange for a discount on my portion of rent.
I have a friend who gets free labor on houses she renovates by offering scrap metal and other valuable recyclables to contractors in exchange for having them remove the items from the house. It's a win-win for both parties. So don't be afraid to barter your services instead of exchanging money.
7. Do I Qualify for Various Discounts?
A good portion of restaurants and retail stores offer military or senior discounts that aren't publicly advertised. If you don't ask, you won't know what kind of various discounts are available. Most military or senior citizen discounts will be in the 10%-15% range.
Another lesser-known discount is the friends and family discount. Even if you're not sure if a family member or friend qualifies you to receive a discount, it never hurts to ask. Some employees will occasionally use their discount on your behalf.
8. Are There Any Upcoming Sales or Holiday Promotions?
Most stores offer yearly sales and holiday promotions as a way to drum up business or clear out last season's inventory. As a woman, I know that Victoria's Secret offers their semi-annual sale, so that's usually when I make any purchases.
Ask the customer service rep if there are any upcoming sales or holiday promotions, then mark your calendar so you can come back (or order online) to save some money. Sometimes they'll even offer you the sale price right then and there. It never hurts to ask!
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best personal finance bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.