Most people don’t think twice about paying marked prices. When a price is printed in ink and affixed to a product, it seems set in stone. However, when items aren’t marked, people feel more comfortable attempting to negotiate, even if it only saves them five bucks. The truth is, almost all prices are negotiable, even when there’s a published price.
It’s a small example, but this truth can be seen when store owners give younger kids discounts on candy bars and gum. Price is often an arbitrary decision.
In the auto insurance industry, for example, the premium for driving a vehicle equipped with certain safety features like airbags, anti-lock brakes, and daytime running lights generally costs less than driving a vehicle without these features. This calculation is automatic, but if you ask an insurance agent for a bigger discount for no reason, they will usually knock off a few extra bucks.
While prices are negotiable, you won’t get discounts automatically – you need to ask for them.
People who get discounts and financing options request them
We all have that one friend who seems to get deals and discounts everywhere they go. Those are the friends we ask to help us out with negotiating billing mistakes and unexpected charges. The way they get results seems like magic, but it’s really not. There’s only one reason they’re successful – they make requests.
Not making requests is the number one reason people don’t get what they want.
Making requests is an art form. You can’t just demand a deal by telling your cable company you’ve been a loyal customer for five years and you think you deserve it. That approach fails for the same reason you can’t demand a raise from your boss. Businesses don’t respond favorably to demands.
Michelle Tillis Lederman provides a fantastic guide to making pressure-free requests that don’t make others feel uncomfortable. Her guide includes advice for making requests that would apply to a variety of situations and industries. For example, she refers to what she calls the “non ask” where you share your goals and allow others to help without having to ask. Following her template with your cable bill, you might ask a representative, “My goal is to save $20 per month on my cable bill, do you have any advice?”
Payment plans can be requested, too
Sometimes you can’t negotiate the final price, but you can negotiate a payment plan. You may have seen something called “Care Credit” in recent years. This is one example of how the medical industry provides options for patients to make payments on their medical and dental procedures.
Sometimes practices offer their own financing programs. This has become a necessity in a world where insurance plans do not cover certain procedures. Lasik, for example, isn’t covered by insurance carriers because it’s considered elective. According to Swagel Wootton, many eye clinics offer financing options with no money down, even for people with low credit scores.
Even if you have terrible credit, it doesn’t hurt to ask for a payment plan. The business you’re dealing with might be willing to extend a payment plan to you as a neighbor or friend.
Even some of your household bills are negotiable
You can’t negotiate your water or garbage bill since your costs depend on metered usage. However, you can negotiate your cable and cellphone bill. If you can save ten bucks a month on your cable bill, that’s $120/year you can put in your savings account.
Charles Passy from Market Watch explains that cable companies are willing to negotiate because they want to keep your business. Passy explains that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 changed the marketplace by allowing phone companies to compete with cable companies. Now, both cable and phone companies are allowed to provide all three services: TV, internet, and phone. This makes them direct competitors.
As Passy explains, “if you move your business to the competition, there’s some serious money involved.” The article quotes Jeff Kagan, “Today, when a customer leaves, they take everything.”
Prices are most negotiable when you request deals from the owner
Prices are always negotiable when you do business directly with the business owner, or anyone with the authority to make financial decisions. For example, at a flea market, farmer’s market, or convention, each vendor you visit is an individual business. The people stationed at the booth are sometimes employees, but often the owners are present because they want to participate in promoting their business.
People negotiate prices with vendors all the time simply by letting them know they’d like to pay a lower price. It sounds too simple, but it really works.
Author: Oliver Curtis
Hi there. I’m Oliver. I’m just a young boy from the outskirts of… Okay, that’s a lie, I’m not a young boy anymore, although I certainly feel that way at heart.