Negotiating Tips for Consumers

January 12, 2005

My mother is often attributed as the Kung-Fu Queen of Negotiation. She bargains with an ease and serenity that only true masters possess. An analysis of my mother's skill has presented the following five tips that will enhance your negotiating ability in a way you never thought was possible:


1. No means No!

The primary rule of thumb for a good negotiator is the most basic. Learn to say no. . Let me help you. First, go find a mirror. Hey! Stop admiring yourself and pay attention! Now, say 'No.' Easy huh? Practice this daily and it will roll off your tongue in a couple of days, just like a cat coughs up furballs. Learning to say no is a skill made for the strong and honest. When you don't like the item being sold or the price it's being sold at, say no and walk away.

2. It's all about the look

Never, ever be so desperate that you have to do the 'Puppy Face' look to get what you want. It gets you nowhere and makes you look pathetic. Frankly, you will come across as childish and immature. Instead, keep a stern look because this is what shows strength. It means that you are not about to waver; when you want a bargain, you want it.

3. Weight Balance

Comparison is perhaps one of the best tricks to use when bargaining. Without any hesitation, make sure you tell the salesperson that he can do much better than what he's offering because you've seen similar items for much reasonable prices. Of course, make sure you give examples and do a little price research because a salesperson surely does his.

4. Trading Friends

Friends are fantastic, especially when you can get bargains on their behalf. To illustrate this, let's say that you were buying a piece of jewelry. With absolute subtlety, tell the salesperson that this store is a marvel and that your friends would like (not love) to see it (do not show extreme signs of excitement here, only be slightly enthusiastic). Afterward, tell the salesperson that your friends would be pleased (not ecstatic) and that you may recommend it to them. Hopefully, the salesperson will get the hint and offer you a bargain. Knowing that you'll give him future business, he'll be sure to give you a deal.

5. Do you dare to Question me?

Drown the salesperson with questions. This is your money, you worked hard for it and you have every right to interrogate him course. Make sure you ask questions pertaining to where the object is manufactured, how it is made, who sells it to them, whether child labor was involved, what the company's reputation is, and of course if refund arrangements can be made. The point of this is to make the salesperson sweat under the sun, which is you. For that reason, some of the best questions are those that involve what the object cannot do for you. For instance, if you are buying a car, you may choose to ask the car salesman if it has the Onstar system, which you love, installed in the car. Consequently, he may say no and then change the topic. However, you, being on your feet, should stop him and disappointedly repeat, 'So you don't have the system installed?' Knowing that the uninstalled system, of which you love so much, may hinder your desire to buy the car, he or she will be more eager to give you a bargain.

And that's it! Well I have some more...but we'll stop for now.This, my dear consumers, is your money. You worked hard for it. The extra money you save can be donated and used by someone in dire need, it can go towards educational funds for yourself or your children, or it can be used for grocery, furniture, or clothes shopping. Never even remotely think that salespersons care for your plans.

Remember, Caveat Emptor, buyer beware: follow these five bullets of negotiation to show those merchants of sale that if they can't give you the deal, you simply won't buy their product.

By Alison (17 yrs)

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

July 28, 2014

My husband died recently leaving me with $22,700 worth of credit card debt. How can I negotiate with the creditors to bring down the balances so I can pay off the credit accounts?

By Melodie Beam B.


July 29, 20140 found this helpful

First off please accept my condolences on the passing of your husband. Now, if these cc bills were in his name only I would think you could negotiate your way completely out of the debt simply because your name is not on the card, etc. Try this first IF its his name only.

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July 29, 20140 found this helpful

Although it has been a while, I'm thinking this will still work. When my ex's mother passed away, I called each creditor, let them know she was deceased. Most if not all just required a copy of the death certificate. Mind you, most wanted an official copy, so it may be good to call all of them first, and determine how many copies you need, because there is usually a fee for copies of the certificate. However, the fees are much better than trying to pay off the debt. Good luck!

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July 30, 20140 found this helpful

You state that your husband died and left you with credit card debt. Does this mean that you did not make use of these cards while your husband was alive? Or were these joint (regardless of whose name is on the card) accounts?

Many credit card companies will have a primary card holder and that person can request a card in another persons name. If that is what happened in your case then in most states you are as responsible as the primary holder. This information will also be on both individuals credit report as owing the debt. This is true even if you give a child a card in their name (it is almost like co-signing - in most states and with most ccs).

You do not state if there was insurance or if you are working or if there are small children involved (and you will be collecting social security benefits?) so since all of these factors may have a baring on how to handle this problem - only you can really assess your responsibility as to this debt. You can evaluate your situation and try to get help from some local sources before contacting the cc companies.

Just remember, they a have record of everything! Sometimes a person may use a card that is not in their name and a cc company "can" sometimes try to hold that person responsible for the debt and even take them to court. (and many times a judge will agree with the CC company if that person used the card a lot).

Were you or your husband making payments on these loans?
Did you sign checks making payments?
I am only bringing up things that cc companies use to legally collect a debt.

If you realize that you may be held responsible for these debts then it is best to try and negotiate with cc companies before the debt is in arrears.

If you are responsible for this debt (purchases were for the benefit of you, your husband, your family) then perhaps it would be best to try and negotiate a reduced amount or a reduced monthly payment or reduced interest rate and no annual fee.

You should know that any of the above mentioned actions will probably STOP your use of these cards and it may show on your credit report so please consider all factors before making a phone call. Do you have a credit card in your name? Can you live without having a credit card? There are situations that may require a credit card just to use their services (auto rentals, on-line purchases, etc) and you may not be able to get one if any of these actions are on your record with the credit bureau. Of course there are other alternatives but please give this matter some serious thought and try to get professional advice before making any phone calls (usually ALL phone calls are recorded).

Also, when credit card companies reduce or eliminate debt this is considered as income with the IRS and at the end of the year you will receive a form from the cc company that you have to file as income on your tax return.

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