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BLOG: The art of haggling

Tahmina Mannan
Written By:
Tahmina Mannan

Tahmina Mannan reveals how simple haggling techniques could help you get the best deals and dramatically cut your bills.

As I get older it is becoming increasingly apparent that my childhood education lacked some very important lessons. Like the art of negotiation or just how effective silence can be to get your own way.

And it seems that it’s not just me.

Brits are notorious for being far too polite to be pushy. During inedible meals at overpriced restaurants, we will smile and nod when sullen waiting staff ask us if the warm beer and toughened animal dribble is going down okay.

Negotiating is a valuable tool for just about every aspect of our lives, be it at the Sunday market or during a discussion with our partner.

As the cost of day-to-day living seems to increase with no end in sight, the only way to save money might be to give less of it away. In comes the age-old art of haggling.

Report after report keeps highlighting the worrying proportion of the UK who is failing to shop around and switch to better deals, be it energy providers or even for their groceries. This is rarely down to laziness, often a lack of time being the biggest culprit.

But if you’ve been loyal to a business and they have shown you very little reward in return, it may just be time to demand the recognition. After all, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Mobile phone companies are a good place to start for novice negotiators. If you’re nearing the end of your contract and you’ve been with the same provider for a while, it’s worth calling up to see what they can do to sweeten a renewal on the contract.

Before you call up with guns blazing (don’t by the way – tantrums get you nowhere!), it’s important to know what you are talking about. A simple search on comparison sites will give you a general view of what’s out there.

Know what is considered a fair deal.

Firstly you should check your actual usage. Many of us don’t get an itemised bill, or if we do we don’t check it. However, you could be paying for minutes, calls and texts that you don’t use – research by showed that 93% of mobile phone customers rarely use all their minutes.

Don’t expect the salesperson at the other end to just give you the best deal at the drop of a request. You need to highlight your loyalty and be prepared to be firm. Ask what they can do for you – you’ll be surprised at the deals you can get.

Remember that most good providers want to keep you as a customer, and if you can show them that you have found a better offer somewhere else and are serious about moving, they will work to make you stay. Use competition in the market to your advantage. Mention what rivals are offering, this will highlight that you’ve done the legwork.

Use silence. Not only will it give you time to think over what you are being offered, it will often be mistaken for doubt over the proposals and may just push the other side into offering a better deal.

If you reek of desperation, you’re unlikely to get the best deals, so make it clear that you are prepared to walk away, otherwise they will call your bluff.

The skill of haggling is knowing when to accept the price being offered. Doing the background research and sticking to a maximum price you’re willing to pay will keep you focused and show that you mean business.

With the country set to face yet more economic hardship and consumer confidence at a serious low, haggling may just become as common place as the sight of former ‘social faux pas’ like money-off vouchers at a restaurant.

And remember, even if you haggle down a fraction of what your previous contract was, over a 12 month period – it could amount to quite a sum.