Haggling isn't just reserved for markets and backstreet bizarres. In fact, a survey by America's Research Group showed that 72% of consumers in the US had recently tried to negotiate a lower deal on retail products other than cars, and that 80% of these attempts were successful.
But if you're like me, asking for a discount doesn't come naturally at first, which is why I've put together this list of things you can always haggle for.
After renting several places out on Airbnb, I became aware of the number of people who ask for a discount. Most of the time, it still suits me to earn some extra cash, so I’m happy to rent out the space for 10-20% less. Or, if the guest wants to stay for a bit longer or I have plans out of town anyway, I offer a substantial discount of around 30-40% off.
Make a good impression
When I use Airbnb as a guest I always ask for a discount, particularly if I’m staying for more than two nights. From experience I’ve found the best way to do so is to outline why you like the place, explain that it's not in your budget, and admit exactly what your budget is.
When it comes to Airbnb, the friendlier and more personal you are, the better—and great reviews really help. For example, if many of your reviews say how clean and tidy you left the place, the host will immediately be happy to drop the cleaning fee.
Haggle for your hotel room
Equally, when it comes to hotels I always ask for a discount, especially if I’m booking at the last minute. Remember for hotels, the main goal is to get "heads in beds" and with over 63,000 hotels and motels in the US, competition can be pretty tight, especially for more high-end hotels.
When asking for a discount at a hotel, always do your research. Chances are the hotel offers special rates for AAA, seniors, government and media, as well as birthday or honeymoon rates. Also ask about deals on weekend getaways and midweek specials. While you may not fit the criteria, if the hotel is empty they may be happy to extend the rate anyway.
2. Fresh groceries
While you may be best off sticking to coupons for canned food and long-life items, fresh items with a shorter expiry date—like baked goods, meat and seafood—are a whole different story. To secure the best price, I always shop at the end of the day and offer the "day old rate" for that day's goods. These goods will most likely have to be thrown away or discounted in the morning so why wait overnight?
Buy in bulk
Another tip is to offer a discount for buying in bulk. When it comes to a bakery or seafood counter, supermarkets like to have their freshest produce on display, so they may give you a good deal for clearing the space.
3. Large appliances
Many showrooms selling large appliances and other big-ticket items such as furniture or electronics give their salespeople a fair bit of wiggle room to negotiate a better price. So if you don't ask for a discount at these places, you're probably just leaving money on the counter. For example, the last time I bought a refrigerator, I got $150 off by offering to pay cash for a fridge right off the floor.
In fact, a Consumer Reports article from 2009 showed that while 75% of people who tried to negotiate on large appliances were successful (saving a median of $100), only 33% of consumers reported doing so.
Shop at the right time
In general, the best time to shop for large appliances is in September or October when many appliance makers make room to reveal new models or in January after the holidays.
When it comes to healthcare, you may notice that health insurance companies never pay the full price. In fact, if you take a look at most of your medical bills you'll see the health insurance "negotiated price" right there alongside the full rate you're expected to pay. If health insurance companies are haggling, why shouldn't you?
Being an Australian living in Argentina, I got a huge shock after visiting the doctor on my last trip to San Francisco. Over $1,000 for a short, uneventful trip to emergency! So I decided to have a frank conversation with the hospital and ended up getting around 30% off for paying the bill upfront.
Do your research
Since then I've done my research on medical bills in the US and learned that the best way to negotiate with hospitals and healthcare providers is to demonstrate lower prices for the same service elsewhere. This can be done by making a competitor analysis or referring to the Healthcare Bluebook, a resource listing the average price for medical services in your area. The Bluebook website even has a printable "Fair Price Agreement" for each service that you can take with you when you negotiate.
Of course, it's always better to negotiate upfront, but if you can't for any reason, it's good to remember that many healthcare providers will still be willing to lower the bill rather than risk you not being able to pay at all.
This list certainly isn't exhaustive and in fact, once you've got the hang of it, you can ask for a discount on just about anything. Just remember to always be polite and positive—you may be surprised how much a smile can save you!
This is a guest post by Katie from Argentina.