Tell me about the art of negotiation for consumers

Do you sell to the public, or as a customer, have you bought things traditionally negotiated for price? Specifically, looking for advice or experience on how you get the best price, from either side of the table, based on your mad negotiating skillz, anecdotes too. Not so much for B2B or, hey I got this awesome deal wihout really trying beacuse of X unusual circumstance.

Know the product before you purchase it. Know the cost of the product, know as much as you possibly can.

My advice about cars, from another thread.

The best situation to be in as a consumer from a bargaining standpoint is 1) to not feel an overwhelming need to buy an item right away, and 2) be willing to walk away if you don’t get the price you want.

This has worked pretty well for buying cars and a few other things.

I love the auto dealer tactic of earnestly asking you "Are you planning to buy a car TODAY? (is the idea that if you show desperation they’ll give you a great deal, or maybe to make you feel guilty for wasting their time if you’re not highly anxious to buy?).

I’ve always been tempted to reply “Christ YES! Whatever you do, don’t let me leave here without a car! Any car! SELL ME A FRIGGING VEHICLE!!!”

They’d put me on a list though. :frowning:

I’ve heard that, but when it’s tactful I appreciate it. I’ve been asked in a calm manner, “If we meet your expectations and come to a fair price, is there any reason we couldn’t make a deal today?”

I like it because:
There’s a qualifier in there, I don’t like their offer I haven’t agreed to anything for the salesman to hold against me later.
Its an offer to set fair expectations with the salesman: Yes, I’ve done my research and looking to see if you’ll give me a good enough price or, no, I need to come back with my spouse, I haven’t done any of the research I need to negotiate with you, etc.
Also, saying no, I’m not ready to make a deal today opens you up to looking and getting the, “OK, now that we’ve looked around and talked a bit, is there anything we CAN do to earn your business today?” At which point if alls going well, I just might tell them, “Well, I’m not really planning to close today, but if you’re really desparate to get this done today and offered X price with Y and Z ad-ons/perks/whatever it’d be pretty hard to say no.”

FWIW, I’m interested in anecdotes or advice outside the automotive world as well.

Sorry, had to add: My last dealership experience was like this. Called and got the sales manager. Aparently, they’re the only ones who can answer calls. Told him what I wanted, he made my trade-in sound pretty valuable, I asked for a price on anew car and he said it’s on the website. I say okay, but I have you on the phone, can you tell me? He refers me again to the website. Seemed constantly annoyed with me like he was trying to end the call as soon as possible. Needless to say, as soon as we walked in the door, they started lowering expectations immediately.

Todderbob’s recommendations are right on. You tell them by doing things like that, “I am already sold on what you have in stock, the only question is: Are you going to be able to give me the best deal?” It works on houses and electronics too. I have my checkbook (mortgage preapproval and I’m putting down 40% in cash) right here- I want that TV and will walk out the door in two minutes with or without it.
Stick to your maximum and don’t bend. Also, always tell them the price you want to pay and don’t let them point to a price first. If you say your price first, you tell them that you know what you are talking about.

Bidding at auctions requires a similar mindset, "I am not going a penny over $500 no matter what. "

I don’t usually buy expensive items, but for furniture and stuff over a 100 euros or so (and when it’s not in some chain store that just doesn’t do discounts) I always ask if they can knock something off the price. Especially if you’re going to buy more than one item, IME it’s usually trivial to get 10% off without any more haggling than “I’d like to get two of those, if you can get me better price than 2 x [price of one item]”.

Actually, “Are you buying a car today?” is a statement that I’ve always been drilled not to say, and as such recommend be drill out of trainees.

“Are you buying a car today?” Puts them on the spot to affirmatively take ownership of a vehicle, right then and there. You almost always scare them off by doing that.

And, if you don’t, you’ve got a pushover anyway, so there’s no reason to ask that question. The usual qualifier I use, to judge interest is, “I know you’re a smart guy, you’ve been looking a cars for some time… would you say it’s been closer to 3 or 4 days, or 3 or 4 weeks you’ve been looking at cars now?”

They usually, regardless of how long they’ve been looking, say “3 to 4 weeks,” this sets up a “Well, you’ve been looking for almost a month, and you said you haven’t found a car you like nearly as much as this one*, and you said the price is reasonable… sign here and take it home right now.” (Notice how it’s not a question?)

*the other part of this close is another part of the sales process.


A good, trap, mind you, but a trap no less. It’s one I’ve used frequently.

The qualifier is actually to their benefit, not yours.

It allows them to give you wiggle room, if you say “No,” and figure out how to overcome those objections.

“No, my wife needs to see it first.”
“Well, lets go on a test drive and show it to her!”

“No, I don’t have auto financing.”
“If we can arrange favorable auto financing, then you’ll take it home today, right!?”

etc, etc, etc.

It allows them to overcome your objection, that you didn’t know you were telling them you had.

You’re smart, and that sounds like a good tactic which works well if you’re adamant.

But against a skill, well trained salesman, you’re playing into their hands. Don’t worry, you’re not likely to encounter many of them… but if you do, you’ll never know it. (Until you go to trade in your car.)

Sorry, I can’t give you anecdotes outside of the automotive industry. All of the housing decisions I’ve ever been involved in have been rental… although I’ve noticed that cash-in-hand does tend to lower the price.

Signing a lease for 6 months, payed up front, typically drops your rates from 5% to 10%. Especially in an economy like this one.