Haggling for bargains in department stores

Seven On Your Side
November 19, 2008 4:41:39 PM PST
When you buy a home or a car it's acceptable to haggle. But how about when buying electronics, furniture even jewelry at a department store. We went undercover with a haggling expert to see if we could negotiate some bargains.We hit the mall, armed with a hidden camera and an expert haggler, Farnoosh Torabi from Real Simple.Real Life. and Thestreet.com

Our first stop? A mall luggage shop. We haggled with the salesperson for a good ten minutes, but got nowhere.

"You have to be aggressive, but kindly. And it helps to be patient too," says Farnoosh Torabi.

One tip, negotiate with a manager, not a sales clerk. But at the luggage store, the manager seemingly shut us down.

"Why do I have to give you 10 percent (discount)," the manager said. But when we started to leave she suddenly dropped the price. "The floor sample, I'll give 10% off it."

"She wouldn't have given that to us if we just left immediately or if we just gave up," said Farnoosh.

Restoration Hardware was next. After we asked the saleslady to discount floor models, the prices plummeted.

"Any lighting that's out of the box that we use on display, that's on sale also plus 20 percent off," said the sales lady.

We also got $240 dollars off an apolstered chair that was also a floor model. Next, was Circuit City, the electronics giant that recently filed for Chapter 11, but is still operating.

We went in armed with a competitor's sales ad. "Look through circulars that you get in the mail, to see what the price comparisons out there in the market," said Farnoosh.

It didn't take us long to find a sale price for a Sony digital camera. The competitor had it on sale for $229.99. But Circuit City's price was higher: $279.99.

So we pointed out the price difference to the salesman. And seconds later, he offered to match and then beat the price, a total savings of $55.

"Just like you wouldn't go to a car lot blind and not knowing what the different prices are out there, the same is true for electornics, appliances even jewelry," said Farnoosh.

And jewelry meant Macy's. We simply asked about discounts and we got us a sale price, a day early.

"It'll be minus 40 (percent) from that? And then, minus another 20. So it would be $864," said the Macy's sales lady.

In seconds, the $1800 necklace was marked down nearly 50 percent. If we opened a Macy's charge? The price goes down to $734. A savings of more than a thousand dollars.

In all, we saved more than $1300 during stops in four different stores. We were most successful when we were patient and kept asking if there were any additional discounts. Also, make friends with the sales people to learn about upcoming sales. Offer to pay with cash, not credit card. Buy in bulk if possible. And take along a competitor's ad and ask them to beat it. The discounts are out there - the fun is finding them.

Story by: Tappy Phillips

Produced by: Steve Livingstone