Bargain like an expert with 5 top tips for getting a discount at any store

May 09, 2020
Finding the best discount might just be easier than you thought! Source: Getty.

Everyone loves a bargain – but instead of waiting around for sales, what if there was a way to get a discount all year round?

Asking for a price reduction can seem a bit daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll really start to see the fruit of your labour. As people start to enter retirement and begin cutting back on work hours, knowing how to haggle down the price can make all the difference when you find an item just outside your price range.

If the idea of asking for a price reduction concerns you, remember that retail staff are very competitive and quite often will be more eager to close the sale rather than lose your business to a competitor. This is why many stores these days offer price-match deals to sway customers in their direction, right from big-box stores such as The Good Guys and Harvey Norman to department store Myer, hardware giant Bunnings, Officeworks, Chemist Warehouse and cost-conscious retailers Kmart and Big W.

Here are my five top tips on how to ask for a discount at any store.

Mention competitors

Retailers know that competition is stiff with stores selling similar, if not identical, items just down the street. Use this to your advantage by mentioning to a sales assistant that you might go to a rival store to get a better price. This will usually grab their attention quickly and put you in an excellent position to shave a few dollars of the asking price.

Don’t be embarrassed about looking like a smart shopper (more on this in my next point) – the proliferation of online retailing means stores these days expect customers to have done their research.

That doesn’t mean, however, that bricks-and-mortar retailers will try to beat the prices offered by online-only stores. Most big chain shops limit their price-match or price-beating guarantees to companies with physical stores, so citing Amazon or similar won’t necessary get you a great result.

Do your research

When eyeing catalogues for the lowest price, look for the stores that appear to have marked up their items a tad. Armed with this information, you can approach the store with an offer to match the price of their competitor that you’ve located in a rival catalogue or website. This works great for larger chain stores, as these are usually more accommodating of price matches than smaller businesses.

Check the website of the store you’re looking at approaching to see what their terms and conditions are. For example, at Myer, the price match request must be made before the purchase and done in person in-store. The competitor must be an Australian store or website, and they must have the exact same item in stock.

Others, such as bottle-shop chains First Choice and Dan Murphy only offer to match or beat the price of stores within a 10km radius, while Bunnings will do the same only on non-trade prices and most retailers rule out matching or beating promotional or sales prices on items or the prices paid for commercial quantities of goods. Some, such as Harvey Norman, will take delivery and installation charges into consideration when determining whether a rival store is actually cheaper.

Get it in writing

The key to tactful negotiating is being armed with strong evidence, so be sure to get any verbal offer in writing. If you’ve managed to haggle down your chosen item in one store but think there could be a better deal around the corner,ask the sales assistant to write down item details, including any serial number or other key identifying details, plus the price and date on a business card or brochure. That way you can take the business card with you to show the next store what their competition is offering.

This then allows you to shop around while still hanging onto your original offer – just make sure firstly that you check whether the price the original store is offering is for a limited time only (you don’t want to go back to buy only to find it’s no longer valid!) and second, don’t delay your comparison shopping because some stores only offer a price-match or beat guarantee on prices available on the same day or on items that are currently in-stock.

Consider going for the big-ticket items

Don’t be deterred by a sky-high price tag, as products with a more significant profit margin often allow more room for negotiation. Take car dealerships, for example, which are one of the most common haggling grounds for a lower price.

Other items that can afford to lose a couple of extra dollars on the asking rate include TVs and entertainment units, fridges and freezers, dishwashers, and washing machines. The Good Guys is particularly worth checking out because if you find the same item priced at $5 or more below your purchase price within 30 days of buying from the company, The Good Guys will refund 120 per cent of the price difference. (As an aside, Chemist Warehouse and Bunnings have a similar offer, in which they’ll match a competitor’s price and give you a further 10 per cent off the difference.)

Ask for a deal-sweetener

If you’re new to haggling, try asking for a deal-sweetener to maximise the value on your purchase. Even if you end up paying full price on the item you originally came for, negotiating for something to be thrown in for free is a great way to save. Things to bring up at the counter as potential sweeteners may include a free warranty, extended service, batteries or free delivery.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your financial or legal situation, objectives or needs. That means it’s not financial product or legal advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a financial or legal decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get independent, licensed financial services or legal advice.

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