Remember those PETA ads with some seminaked beauty proclaiming, "I'd rather go naked than wear fur"? Well, I'd rather go naked than haggle at Saks and believe me, I'm no supermodel so my threat has some actual power behind it. My favorite part about the New York
article was that the writer actually tried haggling at, I think, Saks. This is my paraphrase of the article so that I don't have to exhaust myself with cutting and pasting and linking:
"I like these shoes," she said, "are they going on sale?"
"Is there any way that I can get a discount?"
"Could I pay less for them?"
Perfect. So you go through the humiliation and still don't get the discount? Well, I suppose some people pay extra to be humiliated, so this can be considered a real bargain.
* * *
I am a survivor of childhood haggling. My parents were big believers. When I was nine years old, we immigrated from the Soviet Union and lived in Italy for six months. You may think of Italy as the gastronomic and art capital of the world, but that's because you never lived there with papa. For him, it was Haggling Central.
For example--we would enter the store to buy me a coat. The selection was made, a price was quoted.
"This is not price," my father breathed. "This is anti-semitism in Lire."
I would immediately start praying for a quick death.
"No!" he told the Nazi coat seller, before turning to me: "Walk out of the store as though you are not interested," he commanded in Russian.
"But papa, I need a coat, for I am so cold," I muttered. (This is a complete lie, but I had gelato to eat and I wanted to get the fucking coat and get on with my life already. Besides what blogger can resist "The Little Matchbook Girl" as we get into the holiday spirit?)
This was repeated many times, because my father was convinced that haggling was part of the Italian culture and that we would be insulting our host country by agreeing the price asked.
You would think that things would have changed once we entered the United States, but you would be wrong. I learned English faster than my parents did so grocery shopping was filled with peril.
"This says that the suggested manufacturer's retail price is $2.99," my mother shoved a gallon of Bryer's ice cream at me. "Go find out how much they want to charge us." And despite my protests, I would have to eventually approach the stereotypically-acned grocery store clerk and ask him. Why not try this fun activity the next time you're at the supermarket? Because the clerk's facial expression is truly priceless when he thinks that you're haggling. Really, no manufacturer will suggest a retail price for that look.
I'm not done yet! This is how New York Magazine
suggests you go about haggling
, and I'm throwing in my annotations, absolutely free of charge!
1. Don’t be ashamed. You can haggle anywhere, anytime—even at the doctor’s office.
I especially recommend haggling right before surgery. Or right in the middle of it, since you most likely will not be getting anesthesia.
2. Stay cool.
Haggling is about bluffing; if you show weakness or nerves, the salesperson will know you’re going to fold.
Is it me, or do you have to be an Academy-Award caliber actor to pull this shit off? "I will give you $1 for this bread and not a penny more. My children are well fed and certainly do not need this loaf for nourishment. I spit on this bread."
3. Be prepared to leave empty-handed.
If you must have an item, you’ll accept a higher price. Often, walking away will get the absolute lowest offer.
Yes, papa was a big believer in this one. I'm celebrating thirty years of coatlessness.
4. Use charm.
Haggling is a personal interaction. If you make the sales clerk complicit in the game, he’ll be more willing to play.
"Is that your absolute lowest price? Because you are so handsome. And very smart. I am carrying your child."
5. Pay cash.
The seller will usually knock off the sales tax, or more. But carry small bills.
I think this is called "tax evasion". Stay tuned for New York Magazine's next feature-- "Plea Bargaining Tips".
6. Do market research.
Almost everyone price-matches these days.
I'm exhausted already. Isn't it easier to steal this crap?
7. Read the sales tags.
Brazen hagglers will rifle through a rack in search of the one item that’s mispriced low, then demand the store honor the tag.
Also brazen hagglers will work the word "rifle" frequently into conversations with the sales person.
8. Ask when it goes on sale.
The clerk might offer to put it aside for you. Or, if you ask to be called come sale time, it could be marked down then and there, just for you.
At this point, the clerk will do just about anything to get rid of you, I'm guessing.
I don't know, this whole haggling thing is not for me. Please send cash so that I don't have to do it. You look nice, by the way.