HAGGLING online could save canny Brits up to 20 per cent off everything from laptops to trainers, a new investigation has found.
Researchers from consumer group Which? went on retail websites offering online chat services and negotiated discounts including £135 off a Dell PC.
While doing deals over the price of goods or services on the phone or in shops is nothing new, doing so over the web is a new phenomenon — made possible by the rise in chat windows used by retailers.
As record numbers of Brits shop online, retailers are increasingly offering live web services — if you know where to look.
While some pop up instantly, others only appear once a user has clicked through a series of pages or via a contact link.
Which? surveyed hundreds of store websites and found customers could secure discounts that had expired, get voucher codes they did not have or simply request reductions not advertised.
The biggest deals included a ten per cent discount on a £1,350 laptop from dell.com and 20 per cent off a £108 pair of trainers from nike.com.
Researchers also found several techniques improved the chances of securing a discount — such as building rapport with the adviser, hinting a purchase could be made immediately and even staying silent.
Which? said: “It’s important customers don’t appear too desperate.
Remember, it’s often the party most willing to walk away that ends up with the deal they want. Make it clear you’re shopping around and that you’d buy today at the right price.”
Here, we share a list of the discounts Which? investigators were offered and, below, bring you a cut-out-and-keep guide to successful online haggling.
What they offered:
HERE are the discounts and deals some retailers offered – or didn’t offer – after a Which? researcher haggled with their online sales agent . . .
- Allbeauty . . . nothing
- AO.com . . . £20 if you register an account SAVING: £20
- Appliances Direct . . . nothing
- Boden . . . 20 per cent off £189 coat SAVING: £37.80
- Body Shop . . . nothing
- Bonmarche . . . 20 per cent off £40 coat SAVING: £8
- Carphone Warehouse . . . nothing
- Chain Reaction Cycles . . . instructions on how to get ten per cent discount voucher SAVING: varies
- Dell . . . ten per cent off £1,350 laptop SAVING: £135
- Dyson . . . nothing
- Feelunique . . . nothing
- Gap . . . 20 per cent off all items if you register SAVING: varies
- Lenovo . . . five per cent off £900 laptop SAVING: £45
- Liz Earle . . . nothing
- Mac Cosmetics UK . . . nothing
- Matalan . . . voucher code for £10 off SAVING: £10
- Missguided . . . nothing
- Nike . . . 20 per cent off £108 trainers SAVING: £21.60
- O2 . . . £142 discount on 24-month phone contract SAVING: £142
- Schuh . . . ten per cent off £110 shoes SAVING: £11
- Wiggle. . . nothing
Top tips for bagging a bargain
1. Most online chat services pop up automatically. However, it is worth looking around the site as others may only appear on certain pages or via “contact us” links.
2. Try to build a rapport with the sales agent before haggling. Which? said: “It’s human nature to want to help people we like.” Researchers said one line which often proved successful was: “I’m interested in buying this but it’s a bit out of my price range. Is there any way I can get a discount?”
3. Show interest in buying. The agent is more likely to offer a discount if it appears you will make the purchase straight away.
4. Don’t appear too desperate. A customer willing to walk away often ends up with the best deal. Make it clear you are shopping around for a deal and that you will buy immediately for the right price.
5. Ask a few questions about the product so the salesperson can convince you it is suitable. Then enquire whether it is possible to get a discount.
6. Look around for codes – online discounts are usually given via codes which you enter during the checkout process, but these codes aren’t always flagged up on retailers’ own websites. Which? found that agents were often prepared to offer a discount code even if it wasn’t available online or had expired. Even an expired code can give you an idea of what discount could be offered.
7. Target items already on sale – it’s often because there is low demand for it or the retailer is keen to clear its stock. It follows that you may have a better chance of successfully haggling over items already reduced.
8. Keep quiet. If negotiations have fallen flat it is worth keeping the chat window open – the agent won’t usually log out of your chat session until you close the window, and will most likely check you are happy before leaving. Which? said: “We stayed silent after a Bonmarche salesperson told us they couldn’t offer a discount and within minutes they revealed the item was due to be part of a 20 per cent-off sale that weekend. After a few extra moments of silence they then offered us a ten per cent discount code to use right away.”
9. Ask about free delivery. Even when an online salesperson wasn’t able to reduce the cost of an item, they could still sometimes offer free express delivery. Don’t complete the sale until you’ve enquired whether this is an option.