Start haggling to save money

June 12, 2008 4:11:59 PM PDT
It's something that has a long history in many countries, but haggling is not as common here in the U.S. However, that's all changing. According to America's Research Group, 67 percent of customers surveyed have haggled in the last three months. That's up 12 percent from just three months ago.

And this is not happening in open air markets or on Harwin Drive. Haggling is now happening at some "big box" retailers as everyone is looking for a deal and not afraid to ask.

Jeb Waite considers himself a smart consumer. He was shopping for a new washer and dryer and wouldn't stop until he got the best deal.

"I am not scared to ask for the better deal because it is my money," he said.

He ended up buying at Home Depot. There, he was able to negotiate free delivery and installation, and will get a $100 manufacturer's rebate.

But not everyone is willing to haggle like Waite.

However, you shouldn't just assume the price marked is the best available, according to University of Houston marketing professor Betsey Geld.

"Some large retailers are delegating to sales people the ability to bargain on price," she said.

Haggling used to be a common practice in the 1850s before department stores began setting fixed prices. Now, research shows, the old practice is making a comeback.

"Being a thrifty buyer used to be a virtue," Gelb said.

Even "big box" stores like Home Depot are reacting.

"As the second largest retailer in the country, our motivation is to do what we can for our customer to bring them back, week after week, year after year," Home Depot representative Zion Greenfield said.

Home Depot says it never hurts to ask for a better deal, especially on merchandise "out of the box" or on clearance.

"We very rarely say no," Greenfield said. "We always make that attempt."

But, haggling doesn't always work. At Best Buy, a couple asked an associate if they could get a better deal on a video camera. They were denied, and paid the sticker price.

Ann Moore and Victor Guthrie tried to get a discount because they were looking to buy two laptops. Circuit City didn't budge.

"They lost a sale," Moore said.

Circuit City said that their policy is that regular prices are not negotiated.

But, as haggling often requires, Moore and Guthrie went somewhere else, and got a better deal.

After calling a dozen or so "big box" and discount stores to get their policies on haggling, most would not come out and say, "Yes, we haggle." But, if you read between the lines, some do seem open to it.

Channel 13 contacted the following companies about their store policies regarding negotiating. We either spoke to company personnel over the phone or received an e-mail stating their policy.

Home Depot: At Home Depot, we have a low price guarantee. If you find a current lower price on an identical, in-stock item from any retailer, we will match the price and beat it by 10% - guaranteed.

Best Buy: It isn't our common practice to negotiate pricing. While our managers are empowered to react to local market needs, our true desire is to make sure customers get the experiences they want for reasonable prices (including all the products and services they need to get it up and running) ? that's what our customers have told us that they want from us. We work hard to make sure these values are available nationally through employees insight, product features, promotions, and when necessary price matching.

Fry's Electronics: Fry's offers our valued customers a "low-price" guarantee on all products. By doing so, we are assuring our customers that they are receiving quality products for the lowest possible retail price in the area in which they live. Our 30-Day Low Price Guarantee will match a competitors price, plus 10% of that price. Given these guarantees and our lowest prices, we are not in a position to negotiate further reductions.

Target To ensure that all guests are treated fairly and consistently, we do not negotiate prices with guests. We do offer every day low prices on great items at all of our stores.

Lowe's Lowe's guarantees Everyday Low Prices. If a consumer finds a verifiable lower everyday or advertised price on an identical stock item at any local retail competitor that has the item in stock, we'll beat their price by 10%. A consumer should bring us the competitor's current ad or we'll call to verify the item's price that the consumer has found.

Mattress Firm No comment.

Macy's Macy's spokesperson said their information is confidential.

Circuit City Our official company policy is that regular prices are not negotiated. That said, we are committed to offering consumers competitive prices. And we are pleased to offer our customers our "Unbeatable Price Guarantee." Here's how it works: find a lower advertised price from another local store with the same item in stock, and we'll gladly beat their price by 10% of the difference. Plus, if you see a lower advertised price within 30 days of your purchase with us, we'll refund 100% of the difference.

Sears and KMart : Both Sears and Kmart do not condone any type of bartering with customers, which would be considering an unauthorized discount. Store associates are not allowed to give any type of unauthorized discounts.

Big Lots As the nation's largest broadline closeout retailer, Big Lots has the power to negotiate the best deals in the business. We sell a broad range of high-quality, brand-name products, including consumables, seasonal items, furniture, housewares, toys, electronics, home décor, tools and gifts - all at 20-70% below other retailers.

Finger's Furniture Finger's Furniture does not negotiate.

Wal-Mart This company did not return our call.

Star Furniture This company did not return our call.

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