Negotiating Your Purchase

One of the national morning shows today had a piece on how to save money shopping for the holidays.  Hey, we all want to save money, right?  However, their advice was to negotiate every purchase, no matter where or in what context.

I can't tell you what a horrible idea that would be if people ever put it into practice.  There are commonly acceptable items to negotiate, we all know that.  Houses, automobiles, horses, furniture, etc.   Its part of the give-and-take of commerce and we all accept it.  As a retailer, I know customers are price-shopping and weighing out their final, total cost (I'll get to that part later).  

But it is pure folly to think that you should negotiate on absolutely everything.  Can you imagine the disaster you would create in the grocery store if you said "I'm not paying $4.00 for a gallon of milk.  Whats your best price?".  First of all, its a little inconsiderate to other customers in line behind you. Second of all, grocery stores operate on razor thin margins of 2-5%, and they are not responsible for price increases.

A better idea?  Clip coupons, take advantage of manufacturer rebates and shop on double or triple-coupon days.

Negotiating on everything you purchase has another effect, particularly with small businesses.   We are all just scraping by right now.  No retailer I know of is making excess profits...they simply can't, in this competative environment.   The internet has levelled out pricing for many items, and most of us are at the minimum allowable pricing allowed by our manufacturers.  Sure, we all have price match guarantees,  but for the most part we are charging the minimum we need to get by.   Driving down the price at your local retailer using the internet as a lever will eventually put that store out of business, and consolidate business to a few mega-retailers or mega-web-sites.   Then we have added to societal and economic cost of unemployment and a failed business. 

A better idea?  If you are really that price-sensitive, go to Craig's List, and outstanding resource for gently used (and sometimes new) items for the home.  

Negotiating on some purchases is perfectly fair, but on other items, the total cost may not be worth it at all...its always best to search out other avenues.  And remember, asking for a discount always goes better when you say the magic words. ..."please".