Negotiating is a bit of a lost art in our society.
Historically, nearly every kind of good or service was negotiable and subject to haggling when it came to finding a fair price. Today, prices are mostly set by sellers, and people are generally hesitant to question those who set them.
But negotiating can still be a prudent thing to do, given the proper environment and a negotiable product. Even larger companies, particularly those that sell some kind of a monthly service, will negotiate, especially when it comes to either keeping or losing customers. As the customer, the power is in your hands as long as you’ve got money to spend. For most companies, they’d rather you spend it with them instead of somewhere else, even if it means they sell you something at a reduced rate.
To increase your chances of successful negotiations, here are a few products and services that can be negotiation-friendly if you’re willing to haggle.
1. Cable Bill
Where negotiating can really save you some money is when your promotional period runs out. You know, that six month period where your cable bill is reasonably cheap, then out of nowhere it skyrockets.
Almost without fail, you can call and simply be honest about how you feel. You can tell them, “I feel like this is just way too high a price for my cable bill.”
At that point, they’ll at least get you on another promotional plan, and they may also work with you to figure out what aspects of your service you’re not using that you could eliminate to cut down the price. If you need to kick it up a notch, just tell them you’re thinking about switching providers, and they’ll bend over backwards to keep you.
2. Medical Bills
By the time you have a patient, a hospital, and a third-party insurance company involved in the payment of medical care, the waters can get pretty murky.
That’s frustrating, but it can also work to your advantage if you feel like your bill is too high. Make sure you know at least the basic ins and outs of your insurance plan, because insurance companies and hospitals will frequently make mistakes when processing your claims and bills.
A few annoying phone calls can either get your bill reduced, or get your insurance company to cover a bigger chunk.
3. Gym Memberships
With Planet Fitness now charging only $10 a month for memberships, they’ve increased the competitiveness across the board.
So if the gym in your area doesn’t offer a plan that low, you can always cite Planet Fitness as comparable rate. You might also be able to negotiate over what features of the gym you want to pay for. For example, some gyms have pools that come with the standard membership. If you don’t want to use the pool, see if you can exclude it from your plan for a cheaper price.
The rental market fluctuates like any other, but there aren’t many set rules or standards for what rent should cost. That means in most situations, you can negotiate a better price or at least get the owner to cover something like water or Internet expenses.
It’ll depend on the personality of whoever you’re dealing with, but a good approach might be to tell them you can only afford a certain amount per month and see if they will work with you.
5. Trash and Recycling
A lot of private trash companies, like the ones hired by homeowner associations, will bill you a flat rate once a year. What most people don’t realize is that many of those same companies are in charge of snow removal.
If you’ve been subject to a mild winter without the need for snow plowing, get in touch with the head of your HOA and see if you can get your bill reduced. It’ll go better if you bring it up before you get the bill in the mail.
OK, this is not exactly an example of negotiating — it’s more an example of asking, but it’s such a great deal, I wanted to include it. Any place that sells paint will have a lot of returns and mis-tints to deal with. Sometimes they’ll put them back on the shelf at a discounted price, but if you’re not super picky about the color, ask for them specifically.
You can often get this paint at a pretty steep discount, sometimes up to 75% off.
Keep an eye out for imperfections, and keep in mind that they don’t have to be major ones. Any sort of defect can earn you a discount at the register. Most of the time clerks will be more likely to just give you the discount as opposed to going into detailed inspection of the item in question.
8. Yard Work or Landscaping
Large landscaping companies will often charge a lot for the work they do, so you’re better off hiring an individual, or someone working for themselves who you can negotiate a price with. If they want the work bad enough, they’ll give you a deal.
9. Car Insurance
The car insurance market is incredibly competitive, which means calling around to a few companies and giving them the chance to beat the “other guy’s” price can turn into a bidding war for your monthly premium. Call around and jot down the price of each one, reporting the lowest rate to the next company you call.
10. Anything Used
If there were ever a time to work on your haggling skills, this is the time to do it. Be fair and make sure you can identify concrete reasons the used item should be cheaper. Any kind of scratch or visible imperfection should knock down the price.
Consider that a lot of places overcharge for used items, so you shouldn’t be shy about trying to get the price down.
Negotiating Can Still Work
Today, businesses are more standardized and prices seem to be always be fixed without room to move. It has made us feel like negotiating for our goods and services is no longer a viable or acceptable way to do business.
In some cases, prices are set in stone and talking until your face is blue won’t move them. But don’t assume that’s always the case. If you look for opportunities to get costs down, they will present themselves. At that point, a little dialogue can go a long way.
What do you negotiate the price for? Let us know in comments!