Negotiate a Lower Bill for Everything From Dry Cleaning to Hotel Rooms
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You probably knew that farmers’ market prices are negotiable, but grocery stores? Oh, yes. If a product is nearing its expiration date, ask a clerk to knock back the price. Got a weakness for LaCroix seltzer? Inquire about a case discount for a bulk order (around 10 percent is typical). Swindling has also scored discounts when one item is marked down, but a related product isn’t—in other words, if that blueberry yogurt is 25 percent off, request the same deal on the vanilla flavor you’re craving.

Restaurants, too, can be bargain hot spots. “If anything goes wrong—the food comes out late, the salad arrives after your main course—say, ‘What can you do to make it right?’ or suggest a free glass of wine, side of fries or dessert,” Swindling says. “Servers have a vested interest in keeping you happy because their tip is on the line.”


One way to score a good deal: If you know a floor model at a certain furniture store has been around for a long time or has some minor, but visible damage, suggest a price cut. Or propose waiving the free delivery in exchange for a reduction.

Some retailers also have a policy that if customers spend over a certain threshold (say, $10,000), salespeople are granted leeway to give discounts (generally 5 to 20 percent, depending on how much the furniture is marked up). “Volume discounts like this make strategic sense, given that the higher the amount spent, the more overall profit,” Latz says. “Plus, it builds customer loyalty, leading to return business.”

Fashion Shopping - Man Checking Out Price Tag on Vintage ShirtClothes

“Some stores keep current coupons behind the counter,” Swindling says. So it’s worth asking the salesperson if he has extras lying around. Doing a quick online search can also be helpful—if you find the item for a lower price, ask him to match it.

Or inquire whether the piece will be on sale soon—and if so, whether it’s possible to purchase it at that price right now. “They may honor the discount ahead of time,” Swindling says, “especially if you explain that you’re going out of town during the sale.”


It pays (literally) to do your homework before shelling out for an LED TV or Sonos sound system. “Search online to see whether people have successfully bargained for a lower price at a particular store,” Latz says. If you read a Yelp comment from someone who got 15 percent off, you now have a precedent to draw from when making your case to the salesperson.

You’ll also have an edge if you offer to buy last year’s model. “Manufacturers offer stores financial incentives to sell off older merchandise,” Latz says. The same goes for floor models. Latz suggests saying, “I’m willing to purchase this television floor model, but only at a discount. What do you think would be a fair price, considering the wear and tear from having it on in the store for hours a day?”

Whatever your approach, “you’ll have greater leverage with mom-and-pop shops than with big-box stores like Costco that have a rigid pricing structure,” Latz says.

August 16, 2016

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