BY JEREMY E. GONSIOR
Price for most of my life was a straightforward term: you paid what the sticker said.
These days it’s a starting point.
So many aspects of life are negotiable, but no one challenges the status quo. Price is one of them. Sadly, all it often takes is asking.
Without further ado, here are three super-easy hacks to never settle for list price again.
1. The “I want to spend this much on a hotel room” hack
A few years ago my wife and I went on a crazy, somewhat spontaneous road trip to South Carolina and Georgia. No reservations, except for plans to stay with friends half the time.
Near the end of our trip, we arrived in Savannah, Georgia and had no idea where to stay. Thankfully, we stopped at the visitor’s bureau office for some tips. The volunteer gave us advice we never forgot. It’s not busy right now at the River Street Inn, he said. I bet you could get a room for $70. Say you stopped at the visitor’s bureau.”
Wait, what? You can negotiate a hotel room price? Sure enough, it worked. We walked into this beautiful historic hotel that normally runs $130 to well over $200. We said we didn’t have a reservation, but we were looking to spend $70 for a hotel room. Max. The visitor’s bureau said you would be game.
They hemmed and hawed – and finally gave in. I couldn’t believe it. In that moment, my confidence to negotiate list price was awakened. The next night I did the same thing in Nashville. I also replicated the technique in later trips to Madison, Wisconsin and Pittsburgh.
2. The “I will keep shopping and come back to a better price quote” hack
Service charges for items like jewelry can be a tricky subject. It feels like employees just make up a figure when you need your precious piece fixed. I had this hunch when my wife and I stopped in at a mall jewelry after determining her necklace required adjustments.
The saleswoman reviewed our request, typed a bunch of stuff in her computer and a few minutes later provided a quote: $30. Uh, no. The necklace cost maybe $60.
I had said thank you for the information but that price was too steep. She was surprised since we clearly had a necklace my wife couldn’t wear. We left and walked around the mall.
About 20 minutes we returned later and I walked right up to saleswoman. She recognized us and again was surprised we had returned. I said we thought about it and we felt comfortable paying $15 for the service. I don’t think anyone had ever pushed back to her. She hesitated. It’s better than no money, right? I pointed out.
More than 30 minutes after the original quote, she gave in. We saved $15 because I was OK with things being uncomfortable for a few moments.
3. The “I have a $20 bill in my wallet and that’s it” hack
I first experimented with this technique in China, a country where negotiation is standard in local, non-corporate transactions. We visited a market in Beijing filled with shops selling American brands for cheap. It’s possible many items were knock-offs, but I am sure a few items were legit.
Anyways, near the end of the visit, when I was down to $20 U.S. dollars and some RMB, the Chinese currency, I spotted an item I really wanted: Beats headphones. As you know, they retail for around $200 in the U.S. Here I was determined to score the headphones for much less.
I asked how much, just to get the discussion rolling. $50. I acted not interested and started to walk away. They countered at $40. I said $10. After more back-and-forth, I finally pulled out a $20 bill and said this is all I have left in American money, which was true. I began walking away for the last time.
But U.S. dollars are desirable in Chinese society…
See sweet pic above.
The sum of all hacks
Never settling for the list price of a product or service takes time and practice. And it doesn’t always work. Yet when you ask for a different price and get it, you feel powerful, confident and creative. It has a spillover effect on the rest of your life.
Start small. Negotiate the price of raspberries at the farmer’s market. Talk down the price at a garage sale. Then work your way up.
Just avoid the River Street Inn. That’s my deal.
Question: Have you ever negotiated the sticker price on an item? What techniques did you use?