Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Are you good at getting a good deal?

For many haggling over prices, be it at a flea market or the market place or a store to get the best deal, can be uncomfortable and yet for others like me, its not so much about the final price as much as the kick you get out of bargaining. Yes you read right I’m a haggler, a best dealmaker and it comes naturally to me.

Whatever be your mojo, one thing is certain, everyone likes a good deal. 

‘A dollar saved is a dollar earned.’

Being able to nab a bargain by negotiating can save you many dollar bills, and by not negotiating you could be leaving your hard earned money on the table for someone else to enjoy.

Depending from which part of the world you come, negotiating or bargaining could be common and part of everyday life, it is in fact expected by the seller. Or you may come from a place where the listed prices are final, negotiating the price is culturally unexpected and considered rude or imposing.

Listen to the queen —It never hurts to ask if the prices are negotiable. When you enter a store, a simple “what’s on offer?” to initiate the negotiating may do the trick, it will surprise you to know the list the retailer or store manager will shout out.


Tips to keep in mind —

– Do you feel you are stepping a bit out of line by asking for a discount, which forces you into accepting the listed prices at face value? 

Make sure you research prices online, be armed with the best information, this way you will know if you are paying a fair price, 10% above is your cut off for accepting the listed price.

– All good negotiations start with a ‘bluff’ on BOTH sides the seller and the buyer. The retailers listed price is what they’re hoping to get, but not necessarily the lowest they’ll accept. As a buyer, know the maximum price you’re willing to pay.

-Be reasonable about the price you are willing to pay. A compromise is usually inevitable. Don’t reveal your buying price right away; it could weaken your bargaining position. Go 20% lower than your price, and be willing to strike the deal in between.

– Trying to tip the balance of the deal too far in your favour risks annoying or antagonizing the seller. A successful negotiation for both sides is when both are reasonable about the price expectation.

– In many countries retailers are issued a license to be flexible on prices, they buy at wholesale prices and often have a lot of room to move on the prices. Though this is almost always not openly advertised. For obvious reasons!

– Many large retailers offer “a price match” guarantee. Be informed on the terms and conditions of each retailer. When the “price match” request should be made, whether in store, in-person? Whether the item is a promotion or on sale?


– Read the fine print for terms and conditions.


When the  “The Art of Negotiating” works —

You will always have mixed results on your various attempts to haggle. It can swing any way, sometimes you win sometimes you think you have won! The motto I live by –‘ if it is no longer fun, walk away.’

At the market place — Lets take a typical market scene or your subziwla down your road. Here I ask for a deep understanding of the trail — farmer to wholesaler – wholesaler to retailer – retailer to subziwala, each one has taken their cut before it reaches you. 

How much do you really think you can make off your subziwala without hurting his daily meal? 

A few rupees here and there from your privileged position can be a significant difference to the seller and the cause of real suffering. 

On the other hand, if you are at the supermarket, where the price is fixed, go with a shopping list, but be willing to take advantage of the specials of the day and tweak your menu’s to save bucks. Just a change of mindset! Haggle with yourself, it’s a good brain exercise.

Another important tip, if you shop later in the day, most perishables get marked-down, take advantage of that and save thousands each year.


At the retail store—

Online shopping seems to be the current rage and definitely the way forward to beat traffic, time constraints and carrying heavy shopping bags. Do your research on brands for items on your list and fair prices to pay, not prices you feel like paying. Then head to the store, it is only in-person that a real deal can be struck. The where, when, how, why can only be in the physical. ‘Keep it friendly’ is the most important advice I can offer. Know what is appropriate too. Ask the sales assistants, they usually are best informed on discounts, deals and coupons for the day, a lot work on commission so they gladly reveal best buys. Another great tip is to buy cheaper brands of the same product; the stores usually keep well-researched products. Big bargains.


At a high end department store —

It is usually here that one is the most awkward to negotiate. But let me tell you, this is the best place to get deals, freebies, offers and gift vouchers. Refunds and exchanges are easy to maneuver. Especially now as COVID-19 has taken the back seat, everyone is rushing to cash in on the time lost. Stronger, cleaner consumer protection is out there to drive a hard bargain. Business needs to resume.


Haggling is just part of a story of life —

Not asking for unreasonably cheap prices.

Not an opportunity to drive a hard bargain.

Not passing the buck and befuddling customers out of asserting their rights.

…. But helping people get back their money in times of great stress, be it the buyer or the seller.

Vinita Alvares Fernandes
Vinita Alvares Fernandes is an Economics graduate, a writer and a Trinity College certified public speaker and communicator

Latest Articles


  1. I never bargain because I don’t know the prevailing market prices beforehand. Also, it is below my dignity even to ask for the price of vegetable, I pay whatever the shopkeeper asks me to pay.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected


Latest Articles