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Your view: haggling in John Lewis

Woman going into John Lewis

Bartering is a skill more and more of you seem to be experimenting with. In our haggling debate, the discussion turned to John Lewis. Can you barter in John Lewis, and should you want to?

Gordy bit the bullet and gave haggling a go:

‘Having heard a young mum and her advice on haggling, I gave it a go in a shoe shop – my wife and daughter retreated in embarrassment. “I really like these and they’re just what I’m looking for, they feel great, don’t suppose you could do something about the price, could you?”

‘The salesman returned a few seconds later – “I could knock a tenner off the price”. I screwed my face a little – “oh, £15 then how’s that?” I left in new shoes with a smile on my face… my wife and daughter left (still embarrassed) but in shock!

‘If they say no, leave, but you may only make it to the door when you are approached with a better offer.’

Figgerty brought the debate round to John Lewis:

‘Has anybody haggled and succeeded in getting a significant discount in John Lewis. I tried in a John Lewis store and was told they had no authority to reduce the price. I asked to speak to the salesperson’s manager and was told they were at lunch and that they also could not reduce the price. I made no excuses, just left. Does haggling succeed in a John Lewis store?’

John had some luck in John Lewis, living up to its ‘Never knowingly undersold’ policy:

‘I recently bought a new dishwasher from John Lewis. The salesman totted up the price including disposal of the old machine and delivery to give a total of £410. When I pointed out that their website offered this for £349, they went into a huddle and waved bits of paper around and finally (one hour later!) agreed that they would supply at the lower price. As I am retired, the time taken was not important to me, but I reckon that £60 saving is worth the time spent.’

John shows that it’s good to keep retailers on their toes, even in John Lewis. However, commenter ‘Lower de cost’ didn’t have such luck:

‘I tried haggling in Sheffield’s branch of John Lewis with no joy. I wanted to purchase two Samsung smart TVs, total value over £2.4k at the time. I even spoke to the floor manager, with no success. They lost my trade for the sake of 1 or 2% discount, or an extended warranty.

‘Walking out of the store is the best method of telling them the customer is always right.’

Robert, who gets our Comment of the Week, argues that haggling is ‘OK up to a point’:

‘You also have to consider value for money too. I buy electronics from a hi-fi shop and white goods from John Lewis, and on the odd occasion I have needed after-sales to fix something they have, without a problem.

‘I have no confidence in certain other retailers; they’d probably decline after a few weeks use, unless you had their three-year extended warranty. I do not haggle with the shops I value, as they do not haggle about service.’

Are you a haggler? Or do you stick to the brands you value and pay them in full price?

Comments
Member

The only haggling attempt I would make with John Lewis would be to persuade them to price-match an online-only retailer. Their “never knowingly undersold” policy applies only to retailers with physical shops, but I imagine that with a little persuasion or haggling, they would extend this on a one-off basis to online-only retailers, resulting in the peace of mind of buying from John Lewis (free extended warranties etc and excellent customer service) but the price of an internet retailer.

Member

To be fair John Lewis do pay tax in the UK unlike a well-known on-line store which I dare not mention otherwise this post will be not be approved

Member

Those who are haggling are putting up the price of goods for those who pay the advertised price.

But many are selfish and don’t consider anyone other than themselves and their families.

Member

It’s not often I disagree with you, but the same could be said of many things. For example, those who pay by debit card subsidise those who pay by credit card. I always pay by credit card so that I pay no more than 99% of the price (taking 1% cashback or greater incentives into account), whereas those paying by debit card pay 100%.

Why shouldn’t those who invest the time in haggling pay less? If other customers are less price-sensitive, then they can pay more. Haggling represents the best of a free market and it is fair and reasonable.

Member

NFH – I think you are being slightly optimistic as to your effects on the retailer. Because you pay by credit card the retailer is paying the card company anywhere up to 5% for the pleasure of your business. If you paid him by debit card the retailer may pay 35p for the transaction.

Who is the chief beneficiary? The card companies. You may say that they provide a form of insurance on your purchase – aswell they might given the huge rake off they take from traders and the ability to charge-back to the retailer. I see it more as a tax for doing business on vendors created by financial companies and consumers.

Perhaps Which? could kindly confirm whether businesses who take credit cards are forbidden under their contract from providing/advertising cheaper prices to those who pay by cash or debit card.

I am quite surprised sometimes by consumers dislike of Banks but there eagerness to support the bank owned corporations that provide card services and truly expensive store cards.

Member

Perhaps Which? could kindly confirm whether businesses who take credit cards are forbidden under their contract from providing/advertising cheaper prices to those who pay by cash or debit card” – Such a prohibition was made unlawful by the Credit Cards (Price Discrimination) Order 1990. However, the Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012 have since limited any difference in price based on means of payment to the difference in cost to the trader.

Member

NFH – It is standard business practice to negotiate on prices, but we are discussing individuals making purchases for themselves. Not everyone is up to haggling and many people lose confidence as they get older. I don’t see why they should subsidise those who are good at haggling.

You are absolutely right over the issue of card payments, and I have no problem with credit card surcharges providing that they reflect the actual cost to the retailer. With small companies I tend to ask how they would like paid, and some do prefer a debit card, cash or cheque, simply because of the cost of taking payment by credit card.

Member

Why should the seller have to be the price maker and the buyer have to be the price taker? In a free market, anyone should be able to set a price at which they are willing to buy or to sell. This principle applies irrespective of the market in which the goods or services are being traded.