How to haggle yourself cheaper clothes, houses and cars

Food, houses, clothes, bank fees – you can haggle on anything if you just know how

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The Independent Online

As a nation we’re unspeakably rubbish at talking up a deal. Maybe it’s the stiff upper lip thing or maybe we’re just not as willing to enter into a discussion when we buy stuff. Yet British consumers are missing out on hundreds of pounds a year by failing to haggle.

Maybe one of the reasons so many of us don’t like haggling is that we are better at doing it online than IRL (that’s ‘in real life’ if you’re not as Twitter-obsessed as some of us). Research carried out by has shown that six out of 10 baby boomers haggle when they are out shopping, compared to just 37% of millennials.

Yet those millennials are far more likely to demand a better deal online than older consumers. They use methods like emailing sellers to ask for a better deal, having web chats with customer service agents and even leaving items in their online baskets as they wait for the retailer to entice them into a sale with discount codes.

But not all shopping is done online, even if it feels like we are moving towards that. So here’s how you can haggle with real people and save money on all your real-life shopping.


Just 17 per cent of people say they plan to haggle ‘hard’ on the price they pay for their next car, according to new research from Sainsbury’s, yet those who do expect to save at least 13 per cent. That’s a substantial saving on a major purchase.

Haggling on a car purchase has become something of an art form but for a beginner there are a few key tips. Sainsbury’s Bank says it’s important to keep your excitement in check so the dealer believes you are willing to walk away.

Do not reveal your maximum budget and always offer a lower amount than you are willing to pay (haggling 101 here). It may be possible to ask for more additional features even if you cannot agree a reduction in the price.

Perhaps most importantly, if you are a cash buyer then do not reveal this to the salesperson immediately. They may be more willing to negotiate a better price if they believe they are also going to sell a finance deal.


Even the most determined haggler might feel a bit uneasy at the thought of haggling on the high street. After all, large chains have nationwide prices and it’s easy to assume that the individual stores have no discretion over those.

However, research carried out by MoneySavingExpert revealed that hagglers receive a discount more than 60 per cent of the time in big chains including John Lewis, TK Maxx and Tesco.

In fact, a former member of staff at one high street chain told the site that they routinely knocked 10 per cent off the price if a customer asked for a discount.

Tips for success include asking for money off items that have already been reduced as there is often greater flexibility, buying in bulk with friends, asking the retailer for a discount inline before attending the shop and highlighting any flaws or dirt on the items.

One important tip is to ask, haggle and then remain silence. It is so awkward that the salesperson may just fill the space with a cheaper offer.


Successful haggling over a house purchase can save you thousands of pounds so it’s worth considering whether there’s some wiggle room on the price even if you never haggle anywhere else.

The Homeowner’s Alliance suggests that buyers downplay the amount they are willing to spend when they meet the estate agent, as this kind of information will inevitably be relayed to potential sellers.

Would-be buyers should familiarise themselves with the local market conditions, so that they know if houses are being sold for their asking prices and if the property is being marketed for a realistic amount. If the house has been on the market for a long time then this can strengthen your hand.

Remember that, by law, the estate agent must pass on every offer they receive to the seller. That can be a basis for negotiations, so it’s a good idea not to go in too high if you’re expecting to be haggled up.

Having said that, if a property is ideal and if it’s likely to be in high demand then these tips might simply mean you lose your chance at buying it. That’s another reason it is so important to have a clear idea of the market in the area you are searching.

Services and insurance

When it comes to energy bills, insurance, and telephone and entertainment services, haggling is expected and can deliver some impressive savings.

A cynic might suggest that this is because these companies know that once you are a customer you are likely to remain with them even when the prices rise again after any introductory offer. However, since that is a risk whichever provider you choose, it makes sense to negotiate the best deal you can with the company that also offers the best long-term deal.

Shop around for the best deals and then ring up existing providers to see if they can or will provide a discount. The best technique is to simply state you wish to leave as the call centre staff in charge of retention may have more flexibility than those who are dealing with more standard customer service.

Bank charges

If you’ve been stung by overdraft charges or late payment penalties then it is always worth giving your bank or building society a call. Very often they will reduce or remove the charges if you rarely incur them, especially if you have a good reason for why it happened.

And when it comes to mortgages or other services, some banks even offer special rates to existing and loyal customers; rates that may not be displayed on their websites or in their branches.

It’s worth asking for a better deal – the worst they can say is no.

Online retailers

So we know that many millennials ask for and receive discounts by speaking to staff online, tweeting them and emailing in advance but there are other tips for securing a cheaper price.

For example, the website Flubit agrees discounted prices with online retailers in and then presents them to shoppers who are ready to buy. Sites like TopCashBack and Quidco allow customers to claim money back on their purchases, which is like a delayed discount.

When shopping for food from the main grocery sellers you can use MySuperMarket to find the cheapest deal for your specific basket of goods.

There are lots of ways to pay less without having to make your case face to face.

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