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; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

    £14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

    Reach Volunteering: Trustees with Finance, Fundraising and IT skills

    Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses reimbursable: Reach Volunteering: St...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent