YONKERS, N.Y., Oct. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A national study by Consumer Reports reveals that haggling over the cost of goods and services is not only alive and well, but can be successful in many cases. More than 90 percent of shoppers who tried to negotiate a better deal on goods and services including furniture, electronics and appliances, floor and demonstration models, and medical bills got one, according to a new survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. The survey of 2,167 U.S. households revealed that most respondents who tried to talk their way to a better deal achieved some success. Of those who negotiated for lower prices on furniture, 94 percent were successful in scoring a lower price at least once during the past three years. Overall, 61 percent of respondents bargained at least once during that time. Some 93 percent were successful at least once in negotiating reductions on medical bills and 92 percent were successful at least once in scoring a lower price for home electronics products. The survey also covered shopper's experiences bargaining on bank and credit card fees, jewelry, cell phone plans, and collectibles and antiques. The full report appears in the November issue of Consumer Reports, which goes on sale October 2. Portions of the story are available for free online at http://www.ConsumerReports.org. "Most people wouldn't think twice about bargaining for a new car or house, but the survey showed that shoppers can successfully negotiate with a doctor, a phone company, and a big-box store," said Consumer Reports Senior Editor Tod Marks. "People think that there is little wiggle room when it comes to things like medical and cable television bills, but if you're willing to risk rejection, the rewards can pay off handsomely." In addition, the survey revealed that men were somewhat more likely to bargain than women: 64 percent vs. 58 percent. Although both genders were equally successful when they tried to negotiate, women tended to dislike the process more: Forty-six percent said haggling made them so uncomfortable that they rarely, if ever, tried it. Only 32 percent of men said they felt that way. How to haggle Regardless of what you're bargaining for, you can improve your success rate. First, try not to be shy. You won't be forcing merchants to negotiate. If they give you a bargain, it's because they can afford it. Second, keep it pleasant. Savvy negotiators know that a smile is harder to resist than ultimatums. In addition, CR's experts recommend the following strategies to improve your success rate at bargaining: -- Gauge the seller's need. Sellers of goods with a limited shelf life may have extra incentive. A car sitting on a lot for months is costing the dealer. Similarly, if the seller of a house has already bought another, he or she may need to drop the price quickly. -- Deal with the decision maker. If a salesperson isn't empowered enough to give you a discount, find out who is. At chain stores, that's typically a manager or supervisor. If your medical plan doesn't cover the entire cost of a procedure, talk to the doctor, not the office manager. -- Negotiate from a position of power. The best time to bargain is when you have the upper hand. For some highly competitive services -- like cell phone carriers and satellite radio, your continued business is especially important because it's expensive to lure new customers. When its time to renew, ask for more minutes for a cell-phone plan. Make it clear that you're willing to take your business elsewhere. -- Time your shopping. Cars are often on sale in November and December, so negotiations then can be partially effective. If you collect your tax information in February, ask your tax-preparer for an early-bird discount. Find fixable flaws. Many goods have minor blemishes that you can live with or easily repair, such as a missing button or dings on a refrigerator. Show the flaws to the seller. -- Offer to pay cash. Merchants may offer a discount because they don't have to pay transaction fees to a credit-card company. The November 2007 issue of Consumer Reports is on sale wherever magazines are sold. To subscribe, call 1-800-765-1845. NOVEMBER 2007 (C) Consumers Union 2007. The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not be used for commercial or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports(R) is published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. To achieve this mission, we test, inform, and protect. To maintain our independence and impartiality, Consumers Union accepts no outside advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the interests of consumers. Consumers Union supports itself through the sale of our information products and services, individual contributions, and a few noncommercial grants.
SOURCE Consumer Reports