Consumer Reports Survey: More Than 90 Percent of Hagglers Scored Better Prices on Furniture, Electronics and Appliances, Medical Bills, and More

November issue provides tips on how to improve your success rate on

bargaining with doctors, big-box stores and other sources

Oct 01, 2007, 01:00 ET from Consumer Reports

    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
     "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