The Art of Asking
by Jeffrey Strain
Mastering the Art of Haggling
One of the most potent saving tools you possess as a consumer is the ability to ask for a discount. This ability can easily save you thousands of dollars a year, yet the majority of people fail to use it. Most of us are used to walking into an establishment and handing over the amount of money indicated for the item or service we want to purchase. Some may spend hours researching the best deal by going through sale advertisements, comparing prices and doing other research, but few will try to change the price once they walk into the establishment itself. This is not so for those who are trained in the art of asking for a discount.
Have you noticed that some people always seem to be able to finagle deals better than you or anyone else you know? Even when you thoroughly research something and think you have received the best deal possible, they manage to find a deal even a little better than you were able to get. Although it may seem like they have some magical power to create great deals out of thin air, the more likely explanation is that they have mastered the art of asking.
The art of asking for a discount is nothing more than being curious if there is a better deal out there, and then be willing to ask the questions to find out. To illustrate, if you have reserved a hotel room in advance to get the best rate possible and you walk up to the receptionist to announce your arrival, do you automatically pay the price for which you reserved the room? Although this would seem like the obvious step to take, it fails to utilize the art of asking.
What would be better is to walk to the front desk, announce your arrival, then say, "I think I have the best room rate possible, but I am not positive. I am a member of these organizations" and list all of them. Then simply ask, "Is there a better room rate associated with one of these organizations?"
By far, the most difficult part in the art of asking is actually getting up the courage to ask. If, however, you can get over this initial barrier, you will have made a significant contribution to your arsenal of money saving techniques. If you find yourself feeling uneasy or embarrassed when you know you should ask a question, just say to yourself, "What do I have to lose?" Questions are free, so it won't cost you anything to ask. The worst possible outcome is that the seller will say "no" which will leave you in the exact same spot as you were before you asked the question. If the seller says "yes," then you've saved yourself some money for taking a minute to express a few sentences.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when asking if there are better deals out there:
Ask Politely: Being courteous and asking with a smile will go a long way in having the person you're talking with want to help you. If you are rude or demeaning in any way, they will have no incentive to try to see if they can get you a better deal. Never forget that you won't be able to get a discount without their help, so always treat the staff as you would want to be treated yourself.
Ask the Appropriate Person: The general rule here is to ask the highest level person you can. The higher up the chain of command, the more flexibility the person will usually have in granting any requests you make. If you are planning on buying multiple large appliances and want to ask for a further discount to buy them all from one establishment, a manager will have more authority to make a deal than the regular sales staff.
Point Out the Reason: If there is a legitimate reason for you to be asking for an additional discount or other compensation, let the person know why. If you saw the same item advertised at a competitor for less, say so. If you have consistently been a good and long time customer, mention it. If the store or service has failed to provide what you expected, make note of it.
Ask for Advice: If there is something you truly want, but it is beyond your budget, mention this to the salesperson and ask their advice on how they would reduce the costs associated with what you want. Staff members many times have greater knowledge on the subject and may offer acceptable, less expensive alternatives that you have never considered.
Take the Time to Reward: If a salesperson helps you get a better deal than you expected when you arrived at the establishment, reward their effort. Take a few minutes to tell the manager what a wonderful job they did or send a letter off to the company headquarters mentioning the person who helped you. If you frequent the store often, the employees will know that you reward good service and will go out of their way to help you the next time you ask for something.
You should begin asking away. Try to ask if there are better deals at least once a day. The more you practice, the better you will become at it, and soon your friends will consider you one of those people who seem to possess the magical power of creating great deals out of thin air. Remember that asking costs absolutely nothing and it has the potential to save you significant amounts of money in all areas of your life.
Jeffrey Strain is owner of SavingAdvice.com, a website dedicated to saving you money. Copyright Jeffrey Strain.
Discuss "Haggling" in The Dollar Stretcher Community.
Debt from my past is preventing me from saving for my future! Tell us: Yes, debt is hindering my ability to save and I could use help dealing with it! or No, debt is not a problem but I am trying to get ahead financially!
More Money Tips & Tools
- 10 places to look for $500 in savings
- 9 savvy strategies to save for a rainy-day fund
- 5 big bills you can cut fast
- Money-saving secrets of the rich and frugal
- Do you pay more becasue of variable pricing?
- 5 financial strategies from King Solomon
- Getting a reluctant spouse to consider credit counseling
- This week's Readers' Tips