I’m a huge believer that you can and should negotiate the price of everything. I love haggling and finding a bargain. Most people are embarrassed to ask for a better price; I take pride in knowing that I am able to get something for cheaper than 99% of the population. I negotiate with my cell phone company, the cable company, and the bank.
It’s a great feeling to know that I’m not getting ripped off today (20 cents for a text message? Come on. The cost to them is 0 cents). Here are three short stories about my experiences negotiating the other day and how easy and effective it can be.
Negotiate for Freebies
I stopped by the liquor store to get a bottle of whiskey because I was having some friends over for a meal on Friday night. One of the guys working at the store came over and asked if I was looking for something specific. He helped me pick out a nice whiskey. The price wasn’t bad, but in D.C., everything is expensive, so I thought that it wouldn’t hurt to ask for a little discount something extra.
I visit the same liquor store every few weeks, so I asked if he had any giveaways. He was gracious enough to throw in a few glasses and a tiny bottle of something I had never tried before. Sweet! Not that I needed it, but he definitely got my continued business and I got to show off my fancy new glasses to my friends. He made me a happy customer and I was ecstatic about getting free stuff just for asking!
Negotiate for Personal Services
After the liquor store, I stopped off to get a haircut. Several months ago, I negotiated with the barber and we agreed that if I starting coming every four weeks (as opposed to the usual 5 or 6), he’d do it for $15 instead of $20. The problem is that the guy doesn’t speak much English, is well into his 70s, and every time I sit in his chair, he asks if I’ve ever been there before.
I got nervous that maybe I’d throw away that $5 savings, but after the haircut, I gently said, “Do you have change for a $20?” and when he gave me a funny look, I reminded him that about our arrangement. That jogged his memory a little bit and he was happy to give me a $5 bill back. We both win in this situation. He gets consistent business in his little underground barber shop that is always empty and I save money and look my best more often.
Negotiate Free Shipping on Returns
Finally, I got back home, turned on my Xbox360 and found that it was flashing the Red Ring of Death. Gosh, was this really the end? It had been about three years, so it was hard to complain too much, but of course, it’s always best to ask. As it turned out, the warranty was extended for this specific problem for an extra two years, which just so happened to expire 7 days later. Jackpot!
I called up and they said they’d pay for shipping, and all I had to do was pay for a box and shipping materials. I asked to speak with a manager, who listened to me rant about how they produced a defective product and as a loyal customer, I shouldn’t have been responsible for having to pay to have my item fixed. It shouldn’t have broken in the first place and they should have paid for all costs associated with fixing the console.
He understood that I shouldn’t be held responsible for their error, so he agreed to pay for the shipping costs and materials, both ways.
The Power of Negotiating Your Price
These three interactions cost me about five minutes of my day and saved me about $10 on shipping, $5 on a haircut, and got me free drinking glasses. Definitely worth the effort.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a little something extra or a discount for being a good customer.
You’ll be surprised to see how often you’ll both save money and be in a great mood after getting a great deal. Plus, when you go out with friends, you’ll be armed with terrific stories about how your awesome negotiating abilities got you special privileges (when all you really had to do is ask).
This is a guest post from Daniel Packer of Sweating The Big Stuff. Daniel writes about negotiating, budgeting, and currently saves over 50% of his take-home pay while paying off his student loans. To read more, subscribe to his feed or follow him on twitter.
Photo by Sam Pullara