This article is the archived version of a report that appeared in August 2009 Consumer Reports magazine.
Almost always, according to a nationally representative survey we recently conducted. When shopping or paying for goods and services in the previous six months, 66 percent of consumers tried to negotiate for a better deal at least once, and 88 percent of those negotiators scored a better deal at least once.
Men were more likely than women to say they bargained "always or often" (30 percent compared with 25 percent), and people under age 34 were more likely to do so than those 65 and over (37 percent as opposed to 13 percent).
The chart shows the percentages who tried and succeeded in haggling for a variety of products and services.
Thirty-four percent of all respondents said they never try to negotiate. But you can't succeed if you never try. Here's how:
Research prices and store policies, and take evidence of better deals, such as Web printouts, flyers, and ads.
Late in the month, salespeople are trying to meet quotas.
If a product has blemishes, show them to the seller.
Demanding a discount rarely works.
Clerks don't want everyone else asking for a discount.
Salespeople might not have the power to offer a discount.
Merchants don't like to pay transaction fees to credit-card companies.
The most persuasive tactic you have is an ability to spend someplace else.