Ultimate Guide to Haggling

Haggling guide how to haggle

In some cultures, if you don’t try to haggle the price down you might as well be handing over an extra £50 at the till. But in Britain many of us are shy about it, preferring to shop online with a voucher code than try our luck on the high street.

But what a lot of people don’t realise is that you don’t need to be in a souk in Marrakech to bargain over the ticket price, and we’ve seen successes in massive high street retailers like John Lewis, Carphone Warehouse and Debenhams.

Use your smartphone

If you spot something you want in a shop, have a quick Google to find out whether it’s available for less elsewhere, and if it is, this is major leverage for getting a quick discount.

Who said you can't haggle at High St shops? Purchased a kitchen gadget, did a price comparison on phone & asked for price match; no hassle!


Shops such as John Lewis, Richer Sounds and Currys all have advertised price matching policies, but even the shops that don’t will be much more open to negotiation when they see what a competitor is offering.

Won’t move on price? Get something thrown in extra

Let’s pretend you’re buying a camera in store, you’ve talked to a salesperson, it’s the cheapest you’re able to find online and they’re not willing to budge on price. What you might be able to do is ask whether they’ll throw in a free memory card for you. Memory cards start at about £10 and you’ll need one to use your new camera anyway, so what’s the harm in asking?

MoneySavingExpert says it has heard of someone getting a £60 George Forman grill free when they bought a £500 laptop - so if you’re cheeky enough, you can get away with almost anything!

If it’s in the sale, then you’re halfway there

If you find something in store that’s already reduced, you’re much more likely to be able to haggle over it. It’s in the sale (presumably) because the shop wants to get rid of it, and this is especially true if it looks as though it’s the last one there. If the price ends in a 7, 8 or 1 (so it’s £11.98 or £25.61) rather than a 0, 5, or 9, then that’s a clue that it’s on final clearance and they want it gone. Ask if they’ll knock an extra 25% off and you might get lucky!

Even if what you want isn’t in the sale now, see if you can find if it WAS reduced in the past few months, because that can still give you leverage. Sites like HotUKDeals are good for trawling through for old offers, and you can track Amazon’s prices through CamelCamelCamel and we’ve haggled successfully on live chat over a deal we missed by one day.

When the price has already been slashed then the store have shown that it’s lost hope of getting full price for it, and at the end of the day, any sale is better than nothing!

Take advantage of flaws

If there’s any sort of superficial flaw in your item you should use it as a haggling opportunity.

This particularly applies in clothes shops, as sewing on a button or ironing out creases takes a few minutes, and showing the issue to someone at the till can shave a good few quid off the price. However, broken zips or rips are considerably more difficult to fix, so bear this in mind.

Even if the flaw isn’t on the item itself, and only the box is a bit squashed, you can still ask for a small discount, it’s worth a try.

Although, be aware that haggling because of a flaw might mean that you waive your right to return an item if it’s faulty. It might not be worth it for expensive electricals!

Show how much you have

If you’re looking for a specific item and have a specific price in mind, it can be worth getting the exact amount of cash out of the bank. You’ve probably seen it on The Apprentice, but when someone says “I’ve got £30 to spend” and shows them three tenners, then more often than not, they hand it over for £30.

If it’s a more expensive item and you’re able to pay for it right then and there with cash, it’ll seem a more attractive deal to the salesperson than someone buying in instalments, and they might accept less for it.

You can haggle online

With who? You ask. Well, if the website offers a live chat service sometimes they’re authorised to give out voucher codes or price match other offers. We’ve done this ourselves with Amazon, and heard stories about it working at Nike, Dell and Dyson.

This isn’t really haggling as such, but if you go onto a site, log in, fill your basket then leave, then it’s quite likely you’ll receive an email with an extra discount code just for you. It’s like when you pretend to walk away because the price is too high at a car boot sale, but online!

Quick tips

Get friendly with the salesperson, if you flash them a smile and work up a rapport then hopefully they’ll help you out with a discount. You’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar!

You might have better luck haggling towards the end of the month, salespeople have targets they need to hit, and you might be more likely to strike a deal in the last week of the month.

Try independent stores, because if you can speak directly to the shop owner then you know you’re with the person who’s making the final say on the price.

The bigger the commitment, the more you can haggle. For things like phone contracts where you’ll be paying out a lot of money over a long period of time you should always try and get a deal. An SMS insider at one of the UK’s big mobile companies told us that if you get turned down for a discount over the phone, try going in store to make an extra saving. Phone shop workers on commission are much more likely to cut you a deal.

If your salesperson hasn’t spoken to their manager yet then you haven’t got the rockbottom price. In big chains floor staff will need to talk to their boss if they want to give a significant discount.

Good luck, and happy haggling!