Usually I start an article like this by saying ‘It’s time for another reprint of one of my Australia and New Zealand magazine articles’. Except, this time, it isn’t really time, because we only had one last week when I published the Cost of Private School Education: Australia and the UK Compared.
The thing is though, the article I’m about to present here appeared in the magazines July edition and I always like to try and put them online here about a month after they’ve appeared in print. So I am running behind, hence the catch up.
Six simple words
My dad was a car dealer for something like 30 years, so negotiating on price was in his blood. Not just buying and selling cars either, he would haggle wherever and whenever he could. As a young child growing up in the UK in the 70s, I would watch as my father haggled over everything.
For example, the brand-new bike I got for my 12th birthday was up for sale for £26; he got it for £21.50. My brother and I both wanted a Crombie, a most fashionable winter coat at the time. They were marked up at £15 each; he got the two coats for £26.50.
Negotiations were always intense and lengthy, and often it would be the last 50 pence that would take the longest. ‘Just pay it dad’ me and my brother would be thinking, but no, we would have to go through the ritual of the deal collapsing. My dad would then lead us out of the shop, but that was part of the game.
More often than not the shopkeeper would call us back and do the deal at the price we wanted.
Why am I telling you all this now?
Because the art of haggling is alive and well and living in many stores in Australian shopping malls and retail parks. I’ve haggled many times and it is nowhere near as difficult as it was back in my dad’s day. All you need to do is say six little words; ‘what’s your best price on that?’
I’ve done it loads of times, here are some examples:
- A dishwasher up for $599 in a major department store, ‘what’s your best price on that?’ Got it for $549.
- In a jeweller’s store, buying earrings for my wife, they were priced at $349. ‘What’s your best price on that?’ I got them for $266.
- We were in another jeweller’s trying to decide whether to buy a clock for $59 when my wife surprised me a little by saying ‘what’s your best price on that?’ We bought the clock for $44.
This isn’t even haggling! All we are doing is asking one quick short question. What is the worst that can happen?
Of course, these six simple words won’t work everywhere. You can’t haggle with the automated checkout machine at the supermarket. It would also be rather sad to try and haggle when buying a bunch of bananas from your local greengrocer.
A good rule of thumb is if the store has a line of checkouts, shopping baskets and trolleys, haggling will be a waste of time. On the other hand, electrical stores, furniture stores, white goods, beds and mattresses, stores with proper salespeople, are all fair game.
All items with a good mark-up for the seller have the potential for a discount.
Anybody moving to Australia who has a shopping list of household goods they need to get on arrival should really give these six simple words ago. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with how easy it is and how much money you will save.
Of course, if it doesn’t work for you, you can always try my dad’s trick. Just walk out. I don’t think you’ll get called back like he so often did, but there are plenty of other shops out there waiting to do deals.