Asking for a discount in a shop is embarrassing, and there’s no chance they’re going to listen to you. At least, that’s what I thought – until I gave haggling a try and got a £60 discount on a £430 camera.
As part of our article on the best and worst high street shops, we wanted to know whether a cheap online price can help you save money on the high street.
So, I hit the shops armed only with a print-out of Amazon’s price for a camera and a willingness to haggle.
And by ‘willing’ I really mean ‘willing to give it a try’. Having never haggled before, I was sceptical about my chances of success and expected to be laughed out of at least a couple of shops.
Name your price
But those doubts quickly disappeared as the first shop which stocked the camera offered me a £20 discount without batting an eyelid.
Better was to come as another shop offered to sell me the camera for £370, despite the price on the ticket being £430. No-one was able to match Amazon’s £350 price – though one shop was already selling it for less – but every independent was willing to give me a discount.
Several of them seemed to be expecting me to haggle. Most of the independent shops didn’t have a price displayed for the camera, and more than once when I asked how much it was they answered by asking, ‘How much do you want it for?’
I had less success at chain stores, though one Comet staff member I spoke to did say that if I came back on the day willing to buy the camera, he would ask his manager if a discount was possible and suggested he might be able to meet me halfway between the Comet ticket price (£380) and the Amazon price.
No rudeness – just resignation
Once I’d haggled in a few shops, I stopped worrying about whether I’d be greeted with laughter or rudeness. The most common response from staff was a weary resignation about the fact they couldn’t match Amazon’s prices.
My success wasn’t a fluke. Our research shows that almost two-thirds of people who’ve asked a shop if they can match an online price have been successful, saving an average of £52.
So if you prefer to buy on the high street, it’s certainly worth giving haggling a try, especially if you’re shopping at an independent store – though high street shops are always going to find it difficult to match or beat the low prices you can find online.
My top haggling tips
- Some shops will try to give you ‘free’ accessories instead of a discount, so decide before you go in whether you would want these or not.
- You’re likely to get the best deal if you’re buying on the day and offering cash may help too.
- Be wary of dubious claims from silver-tongued shop assistants. Several shops claimed that if I bought the camera from them it would be of a higher build quality than if I bought the same model on Amazon.
What are your tips for successful haggling? Or if you’re still not convinced haggling’s for you, tell us why you’re sceptical.