Haggling 101: Finding Hidden Deals

No matter how large the store, experts say haggling pays off.

ByABC News
January 8, 2009, 12:12 AM

April 11, 2008 — -- At open air markets in Turkey, they call it "pazarlik." In Mexico, they call it "regatear." Speaking in Yiddish, my grandmother called it "handel." Here in America, we call it haggling. And most of us don't like to do it unless we're forced to -- like when we buy a new home or car.

In fact, haggling makes some people so uncomfortable they'll hire professional hagglers such as car shopper Phil Landers of NoMoreHaggling.com or jewelry shopper Nina Johansson of Shangby.com, to do the dirty work for them.

That's because American consumers tend to assume most prices are non-negotiable. Right? "Wrong," said Teri Gault.

Gault, a self-admitted haggling expert, said there's never been a better time to haggle, given our weak economy.

"I've always gone in and asked for discounts," she said. "But possibly they would expect it even more now. If you're worried about making your bills get paid or making ends meet, this is a good way to start saving some money."

And Gault knows. She came up with a couple of consumer Web sites: TheGroceryGame and TeriToday to save consumers money. Now she's rich and doesn't need to haggle, but she just can't help herself.

"I get an endorphin rush from saving money," she said. "It literally is like a runner's high."

Most of us, though, don't have the gumption to bargain down a price with shopkeepers. In fact, lots of people find haggling embarrassing. Up until working on this piece, I know I did. But Gault told me that once you start doing it, you'll probably change your mind.

"Salespeople actually enjoy making you happy," she told me. "And you're just asking them to help you get a better price."

According to Gault, most prices are negotiable -- even at chain stores like Best Buy and Macy's. To show ABC News how she haggles, Gault spent a day shopping in New York City wearing a hidden camera.

A good place to start haggling, she said, is on big ticket items, like furniture. Gault went into Sam Flax, a design store in New York City, to buy a kitchen stool. At first, she was not successful.