Jeff Yeager likes to haggle. The Washington, D.C., author is something of a virtuoso at this lost art, with a deep playlist of tactics that he estimates saves him 10 percent to 15 percent a year on his spending.
“I try to negotiate on all sorts of things, every day,” Yeager says. “And the vast majority of the time, it’s a very positive interaction.”
Yeager, author of the recently published “How To Retire the Cheapskate Way,” is a bit of a renegade. According to a survey by the magazine Consumer Reports, only 48 percent of us have tried to negotiate a lower price in the past three years. That’s down from 61 percent in 2007.
But here’s a tip: When you do decide to haggle, it can be a spectacularly successful strategy. According to Consumer Reports, almost 90 percent of those who took a stab at it got positive results and saved some cash.
So how do negotiation ninjas like Yeager get past this cultural norm –the idea that prices are set in stone – and secure fabulous deals where others cannot? We talked to a few experts and got these pointers:
“If you’re asking about an overdraft fee and they won’t waive it, just go to the escalation script,” says Sethi. “You could say something like, ‘Boy, I’ve been a customer since 2006, and I’d hate to leave because of a $20 fee.’ Right there, you have a 70 percent chance of getting it waived.”
One caveat: Don’t assume your first contact has no power. “I’ve noticed that more and more major retailers have been empowering their front-line employees, to keep you happy and cut you a better deal,” Yeager said. “It’s a tough economy, and they want the business.”
The same principle applies to the time of month. Is it at the beginning, when salespeople still have plenty of time to meet their sales quotas? Or at the end, when they need to make deals.
Indeed, some hagglers drill down even further. “I believe the best day to negotiate anything, from an insurance claim to a salary raise, is the Friday before a three-day long weekend,” said Yeager, who signs all his publishing contracts on Fridays. “Think about it. The last thing people want to do is spoil their own weekend, by leaving stuff unresolved.”
That can come in handy when asking for a raise. Researching average salaries for your position can be done with a few mouse clicks at sites like Salary.com or PayScale.com.
“The very first thing is to do is your homework,” said Vancouver, British Columbia, newspaper columnist Laila Yuile. “You research a store’s prices, then their competitor’s prices and finally the store policies to see if they match and under what conditions.”
Same goes with other merchandise. New car models starting to arrive on the lot? Dealers don’t want last year’s leftovers taking up valuable space. Appliance floor model been hanging around the showroom too long? Time to swoop in for a deal.