I hate paying full price for anything. Just ask my family and friends.

I'm not the sort of person who collects coupons and reads the ads in the Sunday paper, though. I prefer to negotiate my way to a bargain. And these days, that's a whole lot easier, thanks to online haggling.


In a Consumer Reports survey on electronics retailers, 69 percent of the online shoppers who tried to negotiate a better deal on a TV, computer, or other electronic product received a price reduction. By contrast, only 59 percent of the in-store shoppers were successful. Online hagglers also received a larger discount on average ($94) than their in-store counterparts ($84).

Michael Parrish DuDell, a retail expert at the deal-finding service CouponFollow, says many people prefer online haggling. For some, it's just more convenient. For others, it's easier to correspond via Facebook, Twitter, or a website chat box than through face-to-face conversation.

DuDell says companies selling costly items such as furniture, electronics, and apparel are often open to haggling. This includes Dell, Hewlett Packard, and Sierra Trading Post. One way to identify others is to look for retailers that regularly offer coupon codes.

Here are a few more tips based on my experience as an avid online haggler.

Be Prepared

For any negotiation, it pays to plan ahead. In fact, I often develop a rough script before I begin bargaining, even when I'm planning to communicate via an online chat box.

Be sure to do some market research, so you're familiar with earlier deals from the retailer and the pricing of competitors—facts you can use to help make your case.

“Start by asking a few questions about the product," DuDell says. "Make the customer service representative feel as though you truly intend to make a purchase.” To get a good deal, you need to show that you're willing to hold up your end of the bargain.

One big advantage to online haggling is that the discussion you have with the rep will generally be monitored for quality control. That means the rep has an added incentive to be kind and accommodating.

Try to use the same tone yourself.

“You want to be able to say something like ‘I’m looking for a good deal, of course. If you can take 10 percent off the price, I’ll give you my card number right now,’” says Michael Wheeler, who teaches at Harvard Business School and recently wrote "The Art of Negotiation: How to Improvise Agreement in a Chaotic World."

The representative may not have the authority to grant a discount, Wheeler adds, but you’ll never know if you never ask.

In my experience, it's always worth asking, even if you're shopping online at Apple or Amazon.

Via live chat, I successfully negotiated a lower price on a MacBook Pro I had ordered—after finding a better price online one week later.

Amazon reps are hard to track down. (Here's where you start.) But they're willing to price match, discount shipping costs, and even grant refunds if a product fails to live up to expectation.

And if you get the dreaded no after asking for a better price, ask about extended warranties and other incentives. When I purchased a bike not long ago, I negotiated for in-store pickup, assembly, a tire pump and a water bottle, all for free—after my request for a lower price was denied.

Go to Consumer Reports’ 2018 Holiday Central for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more.

Use Your Leverage

There's no better time to negotiate than when you've been wronged. In fact, I almost hope for something bad to happen.

A few years ago, I tweeted about an issue I had with a Best Buy purchase. In less than 24 hours, the retailer contacted me. After I explained my situation, the company rep offered me an apology and—best of all—a $50 gift card.

“This can be a highly effective tactic," DuDell says, “but only, of course, if the company has empowered its community managers to haggle or escalate the request. While fewer brands engage in this type of interaction, those that do are likely to make a deal.”

This holds true beyond the public forum of Twitter, too. When Dell sent one of my roommates a laptop that wouldn't start up properly, I encouraged him to complain. He reached out to a rep using a chat box on the company's website, aired his grievances, and received hundreds of dollars off a replacement model.

Pretend to Walk Away

In a face-to-face negotiation, it's easy to signal your displeasure with the terms by standing up and walking away. Believe it or not, there's a novel way to use this ploy online, too.

All you have to do is place the item you want in a website's shopping cart and then refrain from checking out. Just be sure to log in to the site first, so the seller knows how to contact you.

“Many retailers will follow up on email or through social channels with a lower price point,” DuDell says. They've learned that shoppers who venture that deep into the sales funnel are receptive to incentives. So they often provide discounts and limited-time offers via email within 24 hours.

I've had success with this tactic myself, occasionally receiving a coupon code I wasn't aware of a personalized discount that reduced the price by up to 15 percent.

While the list of companies that do this is ever-changing, DuDell says stores like Toys ‘R’ Us, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Macy’s have a history of using this approach.