The Saturday Miscellany: How to haggle; Parker; Fenella Smith; Garry Disher's bookshelf


How to: Haggle

By Oscar Quine

Haggling isn't just for a foreign bazaar, you can do it every day and save hundreds. Here, Martin Lewis, founder of gives you the lowdown on how to knock a price down low...

Use charm, chutzpah and a smile. Aggression or anger will just put their back up. You're asking for a discount – they're within their rights not to give it.

Know when it'll work. You can haggle in big UK chain stores. Just find a supervisor at a non-busy time and try your chances. The powerhouse haggle comes when calling service-company call centres when you're nearing contract renewal. At many firms haggling will succeed in more than 50 per cent of cases.

If they won't play ball, say you'll consider leaving. This often gets you put through to 'disconnections,' internally known as 'customer retentions'. They have a much better deal-making ability.

Rotating column: Lost diversity

By Jane Campbell

In the old days the morning commute was enlivened by observing one's fellow passengers, and categorising them acccording to the paper they read. And what a rich world it was: Daily Mail ladies sitting next to Guardian men; sometimes even a lesser-spotted Socialist Worker made it into the mix.But then came the free newspapers and, almost overnight, the carriage became a homogenous blur: no more spotting of potential mates or comrades on the barricades. It was sad, but we still had books to give us tantalising hints about their readers (even if, as during the summer of Fifty Shades of Grey, we'd rather not have known). But as e-readers become ubiquitous these clues, too, are disappearing. The lost diversity of the Tube carriage might not be as upsetting as that of the savanna – but it's a tragedy in its way.

Instant Ethics

By Ellen E Jones

Dear Ellen

Q. My friend has taken control of my Tinder account? Is this abdication of responsibility at all wise?

A. Wise doesn't go far enough; this is genius. Tinder's only real flaw is its assumption that most people are capable of selecting a suitable romantic partner for themselves. If that were true, you wouldn't still be single now, would you?


Four play: Thomas Edison's inventions

1. Gramophone

2. Telephone transmitter

3. Electric light*

4. Two-way telegraph*

*receives patent this day in 1892

Micro Extract: Dinosaur in the garden

'[Dragonflies] have not changed much since the Carboniferous, 320 million years ago, when they were well over 60 centimetres across, the top aerial predators of their day, and they remained king of the sky for 100 million years'

From 'A Buzz in the meadow' by Dave Goulson (Jonathan Cape, £16.99)

All good things

By Charlotte Philby

Write on

Marking 125 years of ballpoint brilliance, Parker has created a limited-edition revival collection (above), in coral, grey-green, pink and white. £9.35,

Woof ware

Homeware designer Fenella Smith has created a new range of canine-inspired ceramics and stationery (above), raising money for the Dog's Trust, with cards and notebooks out next month. For now we want this table jug. £34.95,

Guy gear

With a "simple no-nonsense approach to menswear" OPEN is an affordable label that doesn't scrimp on style. With Parka jackets for £40 and £5 tees, the first store will open in Hanley, Staffordshire, and online, next week (18 August).

Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
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