Negotiating on big purchases is a little more work, but it can be well worth the extra effort. How do negotiating shoppers land a bargain? They come to the store prepared, they aren't afraid to ask questions, and they know that the first price they see doesn't always have to be the final price.
Try these negotiating tips, even if you're an inexperienced bargainer:
* Do your research. The Internet makes it easy to find the going price for just about anything—a new dinner table, a laptop, or the latest digital camera. Check out Shopzilla or Pricegrabber before you head to the store. If you find a competitor's price in a newspaper ad, bring a copy of the ad with you to the store. Many brick-and-mortar stores will honor their company's lower online prices if you bring in a confirming printout.
* Always ask. If you're remodeling your kitchen, ask about a volume discount if you buy more than two appliances. Before you hand over your money, ask if there's an impending sale.
* Try for a break on extras. If the salesperson insists the price can't be lowered, ask for a deal on extras like delivery, installation, or a warranty.
* Bring cash. If you can offer payment on the spot, the salesperson will be more likely to cut you a deal.
* Take your time. Unless you need that refrigerator today, it's probably best to return to the store more than once. You don't have to be in a hurry to make a big purchase; a good salesperson will understand that and will want to be there when you're ready to close the deal.
Published December 22, 2008