How to haggle effectively and get the best price

If the thought of haggling over prices in a store makes you uncomfortable, you’re not alone. But many Australians aren’t aware that you can nab some big bargains if you’re willing to negotiate.

In many parts of the world, negotiating over the listed price of goods and services is a common part of everyday life. Rather than being considered rude or imposing, haggling is an expected part of the process.

But not in Australia, despite the fact that many retailers are given licence to be flexible on prices. Research from Finder reveals that just one-third of Australians haggle over price when buying a new car.

Professor Lionel Page, from the University of Technology Sydney, told The New Daily that Australians can be reluctant to haggle because it’s not traditionally part of our culture, especially with listed prices in a retail store.

But you could be missing out on huge savings by accepting the listed price at face value.

“You feel like you’re stepping out of line a bit,” says Prof. Page.

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Large electronics and appliance retailers such as JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, Myer and David Jones often have a lot of room to move on price, since bulk orders mean they are able to buy these items at low wholesale prices.

Many retailers allow their staff to negotiate on price, even if this isn’t advertised openly in the store. Obviously, it’s better for their bottom line to keep this under wraps.

Prof. Page says it can’t hurt to ask if the price of things is negotiable – you may be surprised by the discounts on offer if you do.

So how do you get the best price possible?

First of all, Prof. Page says all good negotiations start with a ‘bluff’ on both sides. The retailer’s listed price is what they’re hoping to get, but not necessarily the lowest they’ll accept.

You should also know the maximum price you’re willing to pay as the buyer, but revealing this amount straight away weakens your bargaining position and could end up costing you money.

“You don’t want to reveal too much,” says Prof. Page.

Read: Supermarket prices to rise even further as COVID inflation hits

Revealing your real maximum too early means you can’t pretend to have a lower maximum after that. If the seller’s minimum price was lower than your revealed maximum price, you’re losing out on the difference between the two.

At the same time, it’s important to be reasonable about the price you are willing to pay. A successful negotiation for both parties will involve compromise on both sides.

Trying to tip the balance of the deal too far in your favour risks annoying or antagonising the other person negotiating.

“The other person may prefer not to have any deal [rather] than deal with somebody who is not willing to compromise,” says Prof. Page.

Financial adviser Helen Baker says the most crucial part of any successful haggle is doing prior research and being armed with the best information. For example, many large retailers offer ‘price-matching’ guarantees, but it’s important to know exactly how each retailer’s process works.

Read: Prices ending in 99 don’t fool customers, may backfire on sellers

“Check the website of the store you’re looking at approaching to see what their terms and conditions are,” she says.

“For example, at Myer, the price match request must be made before the purchase and done in person instore. The competitor must be an Australian store or website, and they must have the exact same item in stock.

“Others, such as bottle-shop chains First Choice and Dan Murphy’s only offer to match or beat the price of stores within a 10km radius, while Bunnings will do the same only on non-trade prices and most retailers rule out matching or beating promotional or sales prices on items or the prices paid for commercial quantities of goods.”

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Written by Brad Lockyer