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Don't Pay List: Negotiating the Best Deal for Your Money
typical American consumer has been reluctant to challenge that retail
icon, the list price. When I urge participants in my Negotiation Boot
Camp™ seminars to bargain for goods and services,
you'd think I was asking them to commit a felony. "You can't negotiate
set prices." "People will think I'm cheap." "That's not ethical." While
it is acceptable to haggle with car dealers, the prevailing wisdom is
that the same approach will not work in a department store or with your
accountant. In fact, a certain car manufacturer has advertised that
they have only one price so you won't have to be bothered with the unpleasant
task of negotiating. Isn't that thoughtful of them?
Well, guess what, now that the economy has gone south on us, these rigid attitudes about wheeling and dealing are loosening up. The notion that you can stretch your paycheck by negotiating better purchases is enjoying wider acceptance. My suggestions for making deals were featured recently in Smart Money magazine ("Let's Make a Deal," December, 2001), and KRON-TV4 in San Francisco just followed me around with hidden cameras for an entire day as I bargained for consumer products, furniture, hotel rooms, and clothing.
The following tips sum up my approach to getting the best deal for your money:
1. Before you negotiate, do your homework. Read up on the dealer's cost for the car you want to buy. Comparison shop to see what different stores are asking for the same piece of furniture or for similar items. Ask your friends what their dentist charges for a porcelain crown. Do research to determine which products are hot and which are not; the best deals can be made on those that are less in demand.
2. Lower the seller's expectations by asking for concessions. The only way to get a better deal is to ask for one. Challenge everything they say. The more assertive you are in pursuing a better deal, the more they will be inclined to cave in and offer concessions. Remember that the seller is under pressure to make the sale. Especially in a down economy, sellers are desperate to find new business. In many stores, the salespeople are actually instructed to give a discount if the customer merely asks for one.
3. Try the Flinch. "What! You want how much for that refrigerator? Are you crazy?" Flinching is a good way to find out if the seller's expectations are low. It may turn out that the salesperson shares your view that the price is excessive. When you flinch, he may respond with a discount.
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Copyright © 2003 Ed Brodow Seminars, Inc.
Copyright © 2003, The Negotiator Magazine