How to haggle on the high street
What’s On tells you how to barter, to help you haggle on the high street, a must read before you go ‘genuine fake’ watch and handbag shopping in Karama.
Thought bargaining was saved for the souk? With serious competition for customers, bigger brands and labels in the UAE are open to discounting prices – they might just not advertise it. Feeling brave and want a great deal? Our friends at ‘good‘ teamed up with moneysavingexpert.com to find out how you can save your hard-earned dirhams in unexpected stores.
THE BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO BARTERING
Get them to chuck something in Often customer service assistants say they’re not allowed to give discounts. If you’re new to haggling, an easy starting point is asking them to throw something in on top. Whether it’s free cables with TVs, polish with shoes or a fridge with a kitchen, if you need an add-on, try not to pay extra for it.
Look for already-discounted items If the price is already reduced (in a sale, manager’s clearance or online promotion) there is often more flexibility. The boundaries have already been flexed, so the psychological loss for the salesperson is reduced as they’ve already given up the idea of getting full price. Towards the end of a sale is a golden haggling opportunity, as shops are keen to reclaim their display space for new stock. It’s worth pointing this out in a friendly way.
Buy in bulk Discounts are often available for bulk buying. This may mean stocking up for a year, buying combinations of products, or even going with a gang of mates who want to buy something similar. The advantage you have is you’re going to hand over a lot more business, and you may secure a reduction because of it.
Do it with chutzpah It’s a powerful consumer weapon, especially when combined with talents not often evoked in the money world: seduction, a gentle patter and a twinkle in the eye. Aim for polite, firm, non-combative and maybe just a touch flirtatious.
Seniority, yes. Head honcho, no If you’re haggling face-to-face, an assistant manager or supervisor is a good person to bargain with. They have more discretion than most of the shop staff, understand the retail game a bit better and are used to pleasing customers. Go to the very top though, and the person will be short of time, and not bothered about one small sale.
Don’t fill the silence As negotiations come to a close, a classic sales technique is staying silent. They want you to accept the price just to fill the awkward silence. Make them fill it with a cheaper offer.
Flaws mean discounts If you’re shopping in person, look for the tiniest of dents or scratches in electrical appliances, or marks on clothing. This makes them more difficult to flog. Clothing can be cleaned and your new fridge will soon look knackered anyway.
Play them off against each other To really up the haggling, don’t target sellers in isolation. Try to play off a number against each other. This has two advantages: it gives you a solid foundation and it prods sellers’ competitive instincts in your favour, as they want to prove they’re better than the opposition.
Get web prices on the high street Many high-street retailers will price-match internet prices when pushed. To find the cheapest e-tailer, use a shopping comparison site like bing.com. Print the results and see if the shop will match the price. If you’re feeling naughty, keep your thumb over delivery costs.
Independent stores are great places to haggle Negotiating in independent retailers, where you can speak directly to the owner, is often a better bet than a chain, as there’s more leeway. This is because in owner/retailer shops, the owner has complete discretion, so a smile and a hint that you’ll become a regular shopper can work wonders.
Counter-seasonal products Companies are more amenable to haggling at slower times of the year, when fewer customers are after their wares. Do the exact opposite of what firms expect you to do, like going for cameras with special Christmassy packaging in January.
Find out their year-end Towards the end of a firm’s financial year or monthly target, retailers and sales people are often much more willing to haggle. At this point, it’s the volume rather than profit that really counts so they’re willing to cut margins down to a sliver, just to make sales. This is also the time when head office sends down special deals and sweeteners.
Don’t be afraid to walk away If you’re nearly ready to buy, then start to use true sales negotiation language. Let them know the exact conditions they must meet in order to close the sale. But don’t be afraid to walk away if they won’t give you what you want – you can always try elsewhere.
Look for obsolete stock Watch out for obsolete products, such as old DVD players and cameras, usurped by newer models. If it’s the last one left, offer to “help them clear their shelves for restocking”.
Pick less busy times Try not to haggle when a shop is crammed with other customers. The last thing salespeople are interested in is reducing their margins when they can see lots of people willing to buy. Go during times of shopping serenity, such as midweek mid-mornings or Friday first thing.
Use stock haggling phrases “Hmm… I’m considering this engagement ring, it looks nice.” Never ever walk in and announce: “My girlfriend adores this ring, it’s the only one left in town and she’ll dump me if I don’t get it.” The salesperson will think: KER-CHING. Even if you absolutely love it, keep a poker face until you’ve shaken on it. Though let them know you’re seriously interested in doing business there and then – at the right price. You’re more likely to score a deal if they know you’re in a position to buy.
Get sale prices when sales have finished If it was on sale, but that’s ended, you know they’re willing to accept that price. Plus if a kitchen company offered you 10 percent off as long as you bought before 20 February, chances are that price will be available after the offer too.
Be friendly, but firm You’re more likely to get a result if the staff member empathises with you. If you’re polite, charming and treat the whole process with humour, you’ll get further.
Ask for the sun and you may just get the moon Remember, do it with humour, do it with style and there’s no price or suggestion too outrageous. You can haggle virtually anywhere for anything.
KEY PHRASES TO USE
- What’s the best deal you can do on this?
- What’s your range of flexibility on this price?
- I’d love to buy this, but my wife/husband will go bonkers if I pay that.
- Price is the most important factor for me.
- I like this, but it’s above my budget, can you do it for Dhs200?
- Come on, you can do better than that! (In a cheeky voice.)
- Oh go on, do it for Dhs650.
- I’m a poor student/nurse/teacher. (Be honest, of course.)
- Oh, I only have Dhs1,200 left until pay day. If you do it for Dhs1,000 with free delivery, I could take it today.
TRIED AND TESTED
Armed with research, advice and plenty of chutzpah, we left our inhibitions at home and hit the malls.
We were in the market for a widescreen TV (honest guv), so eyed up a Dhs12,999, 65-inch model with 3D technology. The sales assistant was super-friendly, but couldn’t be persuaded to throw in any extra products. She did, however, take Dhs500 off the price and added in two pairs of 3D glasses.
This jeweller has stores in Mall Of The Emirates and The Dubai Mall, but crucially also a store in the Gold & Diamond Park, which means they’re used to a bit of banter. After spotting a couple of diamond rings and showing mild interest we got down to business and the calculator-wielding manager took Dhs3,000 off a three-stone diamond ring with a Dhs15,000 tag. What a nice man.
A Proenza Schouler bag caught our eye, but despite the sales assistant helpfully checking to see if it was reduced in their system we couldn’t get a dirham off the full price. We were told that it was part of a new collection, hence it couldn’t be reduced.
After browsing the specs we selected a rather nice pair by Prada. We were given a price for the frame and the lenses, then told that certain healthcare providers would entitle us to 10 percent off, with the same for HSBC credit card holders. No further discount could be scored on top of this.
Avoiding sunglasses that were already discounted, we went straight for some new Oakleys priced at Dhs1,000, citing a present for a brother. After saying they were out of our budget, the assistant spoke to the manager and offered them for Dhs825. Thumbs up.
They weren’t having any of it, which was unfortunate because we really liked that sofa.
We spied the same Samsung TV, and after speaking to several sales assistants they discounted Dhs300 off the Dhs12,999 price tag. Not as cheap at Samsung itself, but a result nonetheless.
No dice on a better price for a pair of AirMax. They looked at us as if we were deluded. Then we asked for free socks instead. It didn’t happen.
We noticed a small mark on a top and approached a sales assistant to haggle. Ten percent was knocked off right away.
There was seriously impressive service from a sales assistant who clearly fancied a fuss-free approach and who knocked off Dhs400 off a pair of Dhs2,800 Chanel shades before we had even uttered the words ‘best price’.
A Zenith watch was what we were after, but not at the eye-watering Dhs37,000 price tag. Discount was already in place from the shopping festival but when we dropped in the reason that we wanted the watch (a 60th birthday), the sales assistant agreed to take another Dhs1,000 off. A further query on a Dhs23,400 Omega Seamaster, plus some puppy eyes, resulted in a discount of almost Dhs4,000.
We couldn’t fault the staff for their helpfulness, but we couldn’t get a discount on a pair of new designer heels, even after peddling a story about a sick sister.
While not one of the more flashy jewellers, these sales guys worked hard for our cash, slashing a huge 35 percent (Dhs36,000) off a diamond ring, plus similar discounts on less expensive pieces.
Tiffany & Co
The home of the gorgeous little blue boxes with even lovelier contents used to regularly offer 10 percent discount, but sadly they are unable to do this anymore. Bye-bye yellow diamonds.
We’ve always wanted a fridge-freezer with an ice machine, so tried our luck on a huge Siemens model, priced at Dhs9,999 and were assured they could take 5 percent off (nearly Dhs500), with the saleswoman being so nice we nearly bought it.
Despite the store being empty we couldn’t persuade Hogan to drop the price on a pair of designer trainers, claiming it was against their store policy.
There were already some great discounts on suitcases, but we wanted more. Choosing two models that were in the sale, plus a full-price Brics carryon, the sales team brought the calculator out, and took 10 percent (Dhs320) off the Brics. After we offered to buy all three together, they worked out a total and – when cheekily asked again to improve the price – brought it down by a further Dhs150. Sold.
For smartphones, smaller stands seem to be the place to go, with this stall (outside Nike in Mall Of The Emirates) immediately knocking nearly Dhs600 off the Dhs3,199 price of an iPhone 5S. With a bit of light-hearted chat about paying in cash, we settled on price of Dhs2,600.
Crate & Barrel
While prices aren’t flexible, if you have a tenancy agreement dated from the last six months (with your name on it, of course) you’re entitled to 10 percent off a single transaction, which if you’re buying a sofa, bed, dining set and coffee table is certainly worth it. Buy big and save big.