I’ve grown up with haggling (my parents mostly)… and it’s interesting to see people’s reactions when you talk about asking for a discount or haggling.
Big Retail Chain Stores are not haggle-friendly
I always sort of assumed that in big retail stores, chains like Target or Wal-Mart, you cannot haggle on prices.
For the most part, that’s true that you can’t haggle on prices.
They are prices set by corporate, and cashiers don’t have the ability to offer even a 10% discount. And if they did, all of the low margins of those stores goes down the drain, and quality may drop, etc.
I don’t bother quibbling over $1 store items either.
What’s the point? Just pay the $2. If it was $20, I’d reconsider, but not for $1.
My NYC Necklace story
I was in New York when I saw this really cool necklace but it came as a set with earrings. I liked the necklace because it was something like gold flecked turquoise, but it wasn’t real stone.
Anyway, they had priced it at $27 and I went to the counter to ask for a discount on the product if I could just buy the necklace alone, without the earrings.
(They were an independent store by the way)
They told me: No can do.
I asked why.
I called their bluff and told them:
- I didn’t want the earrings because I didn’t have pierced ears
- The store already had a bin of loose sets of earrings that were going for $4 – $5 they could put the earrings in
- The earrings were INCLUDED in the set with the necklace, which meant they had an added cost to the overall price
They decide to go ahead with their bluff and told me it was all or nothing. $27.
I asked for a 10% discount then. Nope, no hope of even a 10% discount.
They thought I was some country bumpkin tourist in my walking outfit who was going to buy it even if they didn’t want to give me a discount.
I held the set in my hand a bit longer, and it was in that moment I quickly re-evaluated my priorities:
- Did I really want this necklace? Yes.
- Am I willing to pay $27 for a necklace? No.
- Do I need this? No.
- Can I find something better? Possibly. It was New York after all.
- Are they even open to wanting to compromise to do business? No.
That sealed it for me.
I set the necklace & earring set down on the counter and started to leave.
The funny thing was.. that they saw me leave and they started saying: Hey! Where are you going?
I turned and said: You clearly don’t want to do business with me. So you’ve lost it forever. (Never mind I was a tourist, they didn’t know that)
Some may have seen that last sentence as being rude, but you weren’t there, and they were pretty rude to me in the store.
Instead of being nice or civil while I was asking for a discount, they were giving me looks and answering in an attitude like: Who does she think she is, coming in here asking for a discount? Is she poor or crazy?
There’s no need to be condescending if you have a potential customer in the store. I’m simply asking because I didn’t think a papier-mache necklace, no matter how cute, was worth $27.
I was willing to pay $20 – $24, and I was even trying to work out a compromise, telling them they could keep the earrings to re-sell to obtain the rest of the amount.
And if they had said something like: Buy one, get one free, I may have decided to buy something else, had they put the deal on the table.
People feel ashamed to ask for a discount
It’s business, and you’re not asking for their first born child.
Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours and all that. Being nice to customers means you could have a repeat customer or one who will give fabulous word-of-mouth.
Or, even if you’re nice and throw in some small token for free, people get happy.
If you are headed into an independent store, asking for a discount shouldn’t be frowned upon, because they may be totally eager to do business with you and are willing to knock a couple of bucks off the price to move their inventory.
If they don’t want to really sell it, or they say that the prices are already at rock bottom, then you can make a choice to either leave, or buy it, if you really wanted it (but were just giving it a try).
Whatever it is, if they decide to give a discount or a deal, it’s on THEM to know whether they can do it or not.
If they really want your business, they’ll take it.
If not, then the ball’s back in your court to decide whether you’ll take ’em at full price (which, if it’s a “WANT” you will do).
Will I keep haggling in the future?
Yes. But I pick my battles.
I will continue to be nice when I ask for a discount or a deal, and if the store owners get belligerent or rude just simply because I’m asking, then they don’t deserve my business nor my money.
I’m the one with the power in that store, because I don’t NEED that item (for the most part), and I can always find a deal somewhere, sooner or later if I’m patient.
I won’t haggle in a dollar store. And I won’t do it in big retail chain stores. In some cases, I don’t do it if it’s really a good price and what I’d actually want to pay for the item.
With that being said, if I see an item that has a scratch on it in a big retail store, I’ll ask for a discount to give it a try.
If for any reason, any store or owner doesn’t want to give me a deal or a discount, I do a hard, quick re-evaluation of whether or not I want the item, running through my needs/wants list from above.
More often than not, I end up walking away, and finding a better deal after a bit of searching.
Win win all around.