Bag a bargain by holding your nerve at the shop till

Too embarrassed to haggle in the shops? A website will do it for you, says David Prosser

Why are the British so reluctant to haggle when they are out shopping? Regular bargainers get thousands of pounds off goods and services, but most of us feel far too embarrassed to ask for a discount.

If you're one of the mortified majority, a new website may be able to help. Haggle4me.co.uk claims that it will get you discounts on almost anything. It is aimed at people who don't have the nerve to haggle for themselves, but who would still like to save money.

Users post details on the site of the item they want to buy, with the cheapest price they have been able to find. Haggle4me's army of hagglers then compete to beat your quote. The haggler who gets you the biggest saving gets to split the money equally with you. So you pay less and the haggler makes a few quid, too.

Does it work in practice? To find out, we posted three requests on the site and set the hagglers to work. Save & Spend also dispatched its most shameless reporter to find out what savings she could secure without the experts' help (see below).

The first challenge was to get a cheap deal on an iPod - naturally, we wanted Apple's latest model, with a 60Gb memory and a colour screen. In the Apple Shop in central London, this model would set us back £299 - so, how much could Haggle4me save us? The site passed this test with flying colours. Within minutes, it had negotiated us a £30 discount - 10 per cent off the £299 for the right model.

Next up was a plasma television - Panasonic's top-of-the-range 42in-screen one. John Lewis's website quoted £1,949, but to test out Haggle4me properly, we did a bit more research and found the TV for £1,754.99 on Pricerunner, the net-based shopping service.

Again, the site was up to the challenge - it found the model we wanted for £1,625.12, a discount of just over 7 per cent.

Finally, could Haggle4me save us money on a week's skiing holiday for two? Chalet Antoinette in Chamonix looked nice, and £628 per person from Ifyouski.com seemed a snip, given that the flights were for 8 April, in the middle of the school holidays.

This time, however, we stumped the site. It couldn't get us a discount on that deal, but made a couple of suggestions: "If you travelled a week earlier, you could get the same holiday for £569 per person, a saving of £118." And: "If you stayed at the Best Western Le Morgane Hotel in Chamonix, a room on the same dates would cost a total of £560. You can book your flights direct with easyJet and hire a car for £360. Making a grand total of £920, a 26 per cent saving."

Steve Dixon, founder of Haggle4me, says that the site's hagglers broadly fall into two categories: "People who spend time shopping around on the net to find things cheaply," he says. "And people who phone suppliers and try to beat them down on the price."

Expert hagglers try all sorts of tricks. You can try pleading limited resources, for example, or asking for a discount on a display model, or an item that doesn't look perfect. "What's your best price?" is a good starting point, but you must be prepared to persevere.

Playing shops off against each other is a strong tactic. High-street stores now routinely offer price-matching promises, though many don't shout about it. Asking a shop to beat its rivals' prices makes a lot of sense.

If a shop won't budge, think laterally, like the Haggle4me team. Can you get something extra thrown in with what you wanted to buy? Is there a discount for cash, or payments made in another way? And always make sure you're dealing with a manager or supervisor - someone who has the power to offer a discount.

Deborah Linton: 'He agreed to £290 and a hug for an iPod'

My first stop was the Apple Store on London's Regent Street. "Hi. Oh, I really do hope you can help..." Very sickly, very sweet. "I ordered an iPod for my brother's 21st. Is it 60gb? Yes, that's the one. It hasn't arrived and they've cancelled my order so I need to get hold of one as quickly and cheaply as possible."

With a shop full of people ready to spend, a lone cheapskate acting the damsel in distress was met with considerable disdain. "It's £299," said the salesman. "And you can't do it any cheaper?" I asked. Ten minutes of banter with the manager ascertained that, no, they couldn't do it any cheaper, wouldn't do it any cheaper. I did discover that a student card could secure me an 8 per cent discount, and that I could buy a " refreshed" (second-hand) iPod at a 10 per cent reduction, but that just seemed cheap.

Next I tried John Lewis for a plasma-screen TV. "I've broken my boyfriend's telly. I need a new one today and can't pay over the £1,720 he got his for." I chose a cheeky chappy - always a good move.

John Lewis champions price matching, and throws in a five-year guarantee, so there was no budging. But the nice man did point me towards Dixons, where he knew the television was cheaper, and promised he would match the price if I came back with details.

Determined to do better, I went to Tottenham Court Road. If my haggling was going to work anywhere, it was here. The iPod was tough - Apple is strict with profit margins, but Hussein in Arena Electronics agreed to £290 and a hug. He didn't get the hug, but offered £1,675 for the TV.

Next door, in Musical Vision, I did even better. Amin insisted "we must look after the lady" and agreed I could have the TV for just £1,650.

And the skiing holiday? Ifyouski.com contacted the chalet operator and politely told me discounts were off-piste.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

PROMOTED VIDEO
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

    Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

    Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

    £30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

    UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

    £45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

    Day In a Page

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape