Haggling isn't just for flea markets and street fairs. Believe it or not, you can actually negotiate for discounts and lower prices in a lot of the places you shop every single week, from the grocery to Target. Gym memberships, internet bills, and big purchases like electronics and furniture are all also way more negotiable than you might expect. Here are 10 places you didn't realize you should be bargaining for a better deal.
1. The Grocery Store
When it comes to getting extra discounts and haggling for lower prices at the grocery store, the key is to understand which departments are most open to discounts.
One great opportunity for extra savings at the grocery store is in the deli, as Kyle James, owner and founder of coupon and bargain-hunting site Rather-Be-Shopping.com, told AOL News.
"In particular, look for hams and roasts that are less than a pound in size and politely ask for a discount," he said. These cuts may be too small for the store to slice and sell as normal, making managers more motivated to strike a deal to move them out of the store. "Start by asking for 50% off and negotiate from there."
Also, keep an eye out for items nearing a sell by date and anything that you're buying in bulk. Whatever the special circumstance, talk to management and see if a discount can be offered.
2. Target and Walmart
If you're a total Target (or Walmart) addict, this one is for you. You don't have to wait for the store to mark something on sale to necessarily get a discount. And, what's more, you can sometimes get even bigger discounts on items that are already on sale — if you know what to look for and when to go into bargain mode.
The best way to negotiate for a discount at Target, Walmart, or other big box retailers is to look for damaged goods. As long as the item in question isn't so damaged that you can't (or just aren't willing to) use or wear it, you're in a good position to rack up some extra savings. Show the damage to a manager and you'll probably be offered a discount on the spot. According to one report on Consumerist, Target will offer up to a 13% discount on damaged products.
If you buy your groceries at Target or Walmart, you're in luck, too. WiseBread.com reports that managers routinely haggle down the price on food that has reached its "best by" date and that savings can range from $3 to 50% off (even more if the packaging is also damaged).
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Finally, check the stores' websites for merchandise listed as discontinued. Armed with this knowledge, you can request significant discounts because managers are dying to move those products out of the store for good.
3. Hospitals and Doctor's Offices
The doctor's office doesn't seem like a place to start haggling for a better price, but it's actually a great place to find some extra savings.
"Doctors have to deal with a number of patients who don't pay the bill," Ed Brodow, author of Negotiation Boot Camp told Forbes. "They would always rather get something than nothing."
Brodow also recommends doing some research into the rates your doctor bills for Medicare and then negotiating to get that rate yourself — he says he personally got an $1,800 bill knocked down to $500 using that strategy.
Same goes for a hospital stay. Always request an itemized bill and go through line by line. If anything doesn't seem right, call for clarity. While you on the phone, see if they'll make a deal for a discounted lump cash payment.
4. Lawyer Fees
This one operates on the same logic as haggling at the doctor's office. Fees for professional services might seem set in stone, but, like doctors, they're more open to negotiating than you might expect. Forbes recommends examining your bill closely and looking for billable hours that look inflated or for any instances in which an associate or paralegal did the work that a partner should have been handling. Pointing out these little things can result in a drastic cut to your bill.
5. Furniture Stores
Furniture (real, grownup furniture, not the much-assembly-required stuff) can be a pricey investment. Luckily for bargain hunters, it's also an area that's very open to negotiation. If you're looking to get a discount, start by asking about floor models (which should already be cheaper) and look for ones that are slightly dinged or damaged, which will give you great grounds to request an additional discount (up to 50% off).
Stephen Antsidel, a consultant with 20 years in the furniture business, told LifeHacker that taking floor models, being willing to wait for a special order, paying in cash, or buying multiple pieces at once are all great ways to help your chances at a discount.
The rules for getting discounts on major electronics (think washers, dryers, refrigerators, etc.) are similar to those for furniture. The first step in haggling for a bargain is to ask about floor models, which managers are typically more motivated to sell for a lower rate. Look for signs of small, superficial damage (dings and blemishes — nothing that could affect how the machine works) and ask for additional discounts.
"Store managers typically want them sold immediately so they don't take up valuable real estate," Kyle James told AOL News about haggling for electronics. "These items will typically be marked with a special tag. Start the negotiating at 20% off the asking price and be prepared to meet in the middle."
7. Gym Memberships
Gym memberships are almost always up for negotiation, but it's important to keep some common sense tips in mind. Don't ask for discounts in January, when gyms are flooded with New Year's Resolutioners who are willing to pay full asking price. Ask in the summer when gyms are less crowded and more memberships lapse.
Also, be prepared with quotes from other local gyms and ask if the manager or membership sales person can match or beat the rate being offered by competitors. Usually, if a customer is threatening to leave and cancel their membership, the gym will be inclined to make a better offer.
8. Cable and Internet
Like gyms, cable and internet companies are quick to negotiate with customers who say they're thinking about leaving for a competitor. If your rate goes up (like at the end of that cushy introductory fee you signed up for), call your provider and ask if there are any new deals or discounts that you qualify for. If they say no or don't offer enough of a discount, explain that, in that case, you have to seriously consider switching to a competing service (bonus points if you know the competitors' current deals and introductory rates to quote to your service provider) and wait — usually an offer for a discounted rate will follow.
9. Department Stores
High-end department stores are another surprising place you can haggle for discounts. According to a New York Times article, many managers are allowed to discount items to 10 percent below a competitor's price, so coming armed with a competitor's ad (or pulling up the price on your phone) can lead to significant savings.
And, as with all product discounts, damaged merchandise is open to extra discounts. If you find a coat that's missing a button or a slightly-snagged sweater, you could be holding a major bargaining chip.
10. Jewelry Stores
When shopping for high-end, expensive jewelry (like an engagement ring), come in with a lot of research (make sure you know what the fair market price for the kind of stone and setting you're interested in is) and a firm budget. Let the salesperson know your budget upfront to set your own ground rules. Then, when you find a piece that you like, Forbes recommends making a reasonable offer and being prepared for the employee helping you not to budge on the price. Don't falter. Thank them for their time and walk — slowly — out of the store. Oftentimes, a manager or other higher up will stop you, ready to negotiate.