/ Money, Shopping, Technology

Would you try negotiating using online chat?

Woman on laptop

Haggling in person is a real turn off for lots of us, so what about haggling online instead? Is it easier to negotiate behind the safety of your computer screen?

Haggling is a proven method to cut the cost of products and services, which we’ve repeatedly highlighted in our research. Whether it’s haggling over the phone for cheaper broadband or haggling over products on the high street – we’ve tried it all.

And now it turns out that negotiating a discount is just as effective using online live chat.

Negotiating with online sales assistants

A fair amount of retailers now have online chat services on their websites. In fact, we checked 104 online shops and more than a quarter of them allowed us to send messages to a live sales assistant.

What’s more, we managed to secure a discount with one in three of them without the need for complicated negotiation techniques.

It was as simple as speaking about a product, showing interest in buying it and asking whether it was possible to get a discount. In some cases, we had hundreds of pounds knocked off the original price.

Our biggest wins included a 20% discount on a £108 pair of trainers from nike.com and a 10% discount on a £1,350 laptop from dell.com.

One nifty tactic was to keep quiet if your negotiations have fallen flat. Just keep the chat window open for a few minutes without typing anything, and sometimes the sales assistants will come back to try and close the deal. For example, after a BonMarche salesperson told us they couldn’t offer a discount, we stayed silent and they offered us a 10% discount code to use right away.

To haggle or not to haggle?

So it’s clear that you can be just as successful at haggling while sat behind your computer screen as you can while doing it in person. And to me, this could well be the simplest and most convenient form of negotiating.

Would you be comfortable haggling via online live chat? What’s the biggest discount you’ve managed through a bit of negotiation?


Seems very logical that it should be easier, and that customers have the whip hand in not needing to walk to competing vendors.

It should be noted that online retailers have , or are, using your profile and giving differential pricing based on your browsing record. It was even said that Apple users were a signal on pricing compared to other operating systems.

Please note I specifically do not wish Which? to become a negotiating intermediary taking a cut for “commercial purposes” . It is worrisome enough with its tie-up on Best Buys and with pricerunner.com that the adequacy of its operation free of commercial considerations are in doubt. As a subscriber I am already paying enough to keep the charity going without the external businesses .

I have used this with Euro Carparts when buying a battery. Found the battery I wanted (Bosch) cheaper at another online supplier, but got a price match from Euro with whom I was more comfortable.

However I have no problem with telephone negotiation as I do, for example, annually with the AA to get around 40% off the “renewal premium”.

As for Which?, I do agree with DT. I do not like a consumers’ charity that I support with my subscription making money on, for example, the energy switching site. The line between independence and financial gain (fuelled, I suspect by the way senior managers are handsomely rewarded with bonuses) inevitably becomes very blurred.

I think the only safe way is to find a warm desert island and become a recluse, unfortunately my wife insists on joining me!

I had a live chat with TalkTalk, saying I thought my bill was high. It was reduced from just over £40 to around £25, fixed for 18 months. Didn’t threaten to leave as I had 6 months left.

Paula says:
17 December 2016

I tried haggling with Virgin but was told my contract ran until April 2017 and if I wanted to cancel I would have to pay £167. So I will wait until April.

Davide Galea says:
7 December 2017

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