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
Saturday 18 March 2006
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.
Crowd-to-let: How crowdfunding sites can give investors a slice of the property market for £500
After the election: What will Britain's financial future look like on 8 May?
General Election 2015: How you vote next week could affect your finances
Social tenants locked into energy tariff for 40 years
Five Questions On: GB Energy's new tariff
- 1 If I were Prime Minister: I'd give tax cuts to the rich, keep Trident, and get my football team wrong
- 2 Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
- 3 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 4 University student in court for allegedly covering housemates' food in window cleaner and spit
- 5 Garland shooting: Isis claims attack on Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest in Texas as its first action on US soil
In defence of liberal democracy
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
Andy McSmith's Sketch: Feisty audience is the real star of an enlightening show
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Can you speak German,...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity f...
£215 per day: Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application ...
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...
Day In a Page
Only a few minutes' drive from the charming town of Marlow, this two-bedroom home sits on the private riverside estate of Harleyford.
This detached four-bedroom home in Middleyard is arranged over two floors, with features that include a wood-burning stove and bespoke oak staircase.
In a row of eight detached Georgian residences, this five-bedroom home offers views of The Sound, Mount Edgcumbe and Cornwall from its impressive veranda and full-length balcony.
If you love cooking for friends this two-bedroom flat - complete with views of the iconic Battersea Power Station and an open-plan kitchen/dining area - will go down a treat.
Located above Grasmere village, this five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors and offers countryside views across Grasmere Lake towards Silver Howe.
Surrounded by the Western fells, this five-bedroom Georgian home retains many original features including panel-plastered ceilings, sash windows and fireplaces.
This six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B, subject to change of use permissions.
A former period coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with a double carport, useful workshop, garden and two walkways that offer views of the adjacent countryside.
With space for an equestrian business, a greenhouse for growing your own veg, a wine store and a gym; this five-bedroom home has all the ingredients for a country retreat.
This four-bedroom home has exposed brick chimneys and a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining - the doors open to the patio and garden.
The decked roof terrace of this two-bedroom flat is perfect for summer drinks while large windows and ample storage space make for a light and spacious interior.
Surrounded by approximately 15 acres of grounds, this six-bedroom grade II-listed home has been extensively refurbished yet retains many period features.
This four-bedroom home comes with a two-bedroom cottage and commercial office, with planning to extend, in a stunning courtyard setting.
In a pretty Norfolk village, this four-bedroom family home is surrounded by landscaped gardens, with even a self-contained annex for guests.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
This five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors of a converted Victorian hospital, offering spectacular views of the Pentland Hills - only three miles from the city centre.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with grounds that span to approximately 2.5 acres, as well as two large patio areas and a double garage.
This four-bedroom cottage is a Grade II-listed town house, well-located for the thriving market town of Nailsworth.
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.
This high-spec two-bedroom home is part of a smart collection of new flats at Beaufort Park and has a large decked balcony that's perfect for summer drinks.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Overlooking a golf course, this six-bedroom Edwardian detached home spans four storeys and retains many period features including the original, operational servants' bells...
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
In a Grade II-listed manor just outside of Bath, this three-bedroom home is arranged on two floors with a skylight in a vaulted roof line.
Open the living room's bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a retro-style kitchen, and a conservatory leading to a paved garden at this three-bedroom home.
A Grade II-listed, four-bedroom home, in a charming Somerset village, with a two-storey studio that could be converted into a holiday cottage
A modern four-bedroom Victorian home, within walking distance to the high street
A luxury apartment in the Gothic mansion of Wyfold Court in Kingwood, offers six bedrooms spread over three floors and a turret
This school conversion, near Stockwell Tube, oozes New York loft style. The one-bedroom flat features double height ceilings and exposed brick work
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings