/ Money

Should we have to haggle to get the best price?

Men shaking hands in shop, black and white photo

Six out of seven customers who haggle on their mobile contract get a better deal. And you can knock almost £200 off your summer holiday by negotiating with a travel agent. But should we have to turn to haggling?

Whatever your view is on haggling, it’s clear that it works.

However, it could be argued that you shouldn’t have to go through this process to get the best price. Where do you stand?

Haggling in a free market

There are many who prefer to save money by doing their research and buying from the cheapest provider, rather than arguing with firms who dare to charge over the odds. And if everyone did this, firms might be forced to drop prices across the board, and those without the courage to haggle would get their discount.

But, does that mean those with the nerve to ask a particular company for a lower price shouldn’t be rewarded?

The UK is a free market where businesses will charge as much as their customers are willing to pay. As consumers, we should be looking to pay as little as businesses are willing to charge.

Like it or not, our research proves that the best price often isn’t the figure printed on the price tag.

Haggling is not as scary as you think

A lot of us Brits are a conservative bunch, for which the thought of going head-to-head with an experienced salesperson is terrifying.

Yet, our figures highlighting the success rate of certain haggles should help to ease those nerves.

If that’s not enough, we’ve even provided field-tested scripts that you can recite word-for-word in order to get a better deal.

So, rather than complaining about the businesses who dare to ‘overcharge’ their customers in a free market, why not pick up the phone and get the price you deserve? You might be surprised how easy it is.


Which? should be campaigning for fair prices for everyone, not just those who are prepared to haggle. I am happy to shop around and make price comparisons, but we need to move away from inflated prices and the need to haggle.

If some get lower prices by haggling then their discount is paid for by those who do not or cannot haggle. Perhaps we should think about those less fortunate than ourselves.

I would be grateful if Joe will find out if Which? will give me a discount on my subscription. I have been a subscriber since the 80s. I would also like a discount on your book on buying and selling houses, since my copy is out of date.

Please drop the discussions about haggling, Which? Please get on with helping everyone, which is what you are good at.


I entirely agree, Wavechange. Attempted haggling is not guaranteed to be successful and many people do not feel good after such encounters. Fair pricing and fair dealing should be the norm. It’s quite obvious that companies are padding their quotations to accommodate some negotiation and this is definitely not in the interests of consumers generally. If I decline a quotation and am offered a lower one I refuse to entertain it and take my business elsewhere as I consider the company to be in contempt of fair trading.


Sincere thanks for the support John. I have turned down quotations in similar circumstances. I often have a small dig at Which? but I feel very strongly over this issue.


Very well said, wavechange. I agree 100%

In the past I have haggled and done very well out of it (car trade-in price upped from £3,500 to £5,200 was my best) but it really is an archaic idea in a civilised, modern society. Let’s leave it to middle-eastern market traders.

I feel sorry for the shy and timid in society. Getting overcharged and ripped off by tough, pushy salesmen at big-profit companies.

I don’t do it now, and blacklist any company that even hints that a better deal might be on offer. Just this week, my ex-car-insurer refused to quote me a price; instead offering to beat any other quote by a tenner. They’re permanently my ex-car-insurer now.

And, Joe, I too would like to haggle the price of my subscription. Please tell me how I go about this.


It’s a hard world and those who make the effort to get the best price – whether shopping around or haggling – will be the most likely to get the best deal. There rarely is a “fair” (fixed) price – the price is what both seller and buyer can accept and it can vary depending upon circumstances. Many businesses making or offering products or services look at their annual sales budget which includes two types of cost – the cost of labour and materials in each product, and a fixed overhead (e.g cost of premises, rates, staff, plant and machinery). They need to predict the annual volume of product likely to be sold and spread the overhead cost over those sales. If sales have been slower than expected they may reduce the price to boost them and try to recover their fixed overheads. If sales have been better than expected they may have recovered their fixed costs and can reduce the product price. It’s the way a free market operates. It is even more the case in business to business purchasing – the NHS (and Government) would be a lot richer if they learned to haggle properly.
I think it is perfectly acceptable for Which? to help consumers achieve the best price by educating them in haggling – better known as negotiating. No point in ignoring the real world.


Malcolm – I very much agree that the NHS, government, businesses, etc. should be haggling with their suppliers to achieve good deals. The university that I used to work for was very good at doing this, either alone or as a part of a purchasing consortium with other academic institutions.

On the other hand, a charity that I work for has considerable involvement with a charitable trust that receives government funding. The charitable trust routinely employs various contractors that charge high prices. Our charity has found that it can get the same work done by local contractors for typically half the price.

A consumer buying goods and services is very different from business. The retailer can vary their prices according to the circumstances you mention. They can offer discounts if their turnover is low or for other reasons. I don’t see any problem with loyalty discounts, and some of the holiday companies that I use do offer them to all previous customers.

Why should the customer be expected to haggle for a fair price? What about Mrs D, who is in the early stages of senile dementia and now finds figures confusing, Mr & Mrs R, whose life is dominated for the past two years by their daughter’s brain tumour, or Mrs N (MBE for her services to the community) who is struggling to continue to live alone with the help of care. I don’t think you or I deserve lower prices just because we have the ability to negotiate them.


Wavechange, It would be wrong to penalise everyone who can negotiate their way through life simply because there are people, such as you mention, who cannot; the answer is to give these unfortunate people the help they need, whether through family, friends, charity or other official organisations. If you seek to destroy any benefit from initiative then the future is worse than bleak.


If we fight for fair prices for all, then we can help everyone. That’s my initiative.


My time was charged out at £1500 a day, I got nothing near that. And I would have been out on my ear if I tried to make a case for more money.