In Britain we rarely haggle or barter when shopping which would be unheard of in other cultures abroad. Whether we enjoy it or not, haggling is often the key to getting a real bargain. When enquiring about a second hand car a good bargaining technique can save you a fortune.
Preparing for your mission
In a way, haggling can be viewed as a mission to be undertaken. Similar to any mission or campaign; success is often aided by clear planning.
. Set yourself limits for how much you can spend. By sticking to objectives you should find it easier to focus and not to give in to stubborn sellers.
. Clarify what your limits are going to be. If you are making the purchase on behalf of someone else make sure you now their limits. If you are making a joint purchase with a partner or family member come to an agreed figure before hand.
. Do a little research. Have a look online and in used car publications to gain a feel for the average price taking into consideration factors such as age, mileage and warranties. If the vehicle is old or seems to be a suspiciously good bargain it may be worthwhile to find out prices for common repairs. Using this knowledge you can have the upper hand in negotiating any discounts for faults.
. Try practicing different scenarios and outcomes of the sale with a friend. You may start to notice some key phrases you can use to divert the seller's attention and to close awkward conversations.
. Avoid bluffing. If you have a loose script in your head make sure to stick to it without changing anything. Inconsistencies from on the spot improvisation can easily be exploited to the seller's advantage.
Once you have a watertight plan you can start to approach sellers. Some people find these situations a little trying as you are introducing yourself to a stranger and it is often instinctive to be talkative and to appear amicable. In this situation you don't want to come across as being overly keen but on the other hand you don't want to seem rude or off putting.
When haggling you need to consider your individual needs as a consumer compared to the seller's own. Usually your own objective will be to get the best price. Many sellers will often be after a quick sale. But what if both of you are trying to get the best deal possible?
If this is the case you will need to do some tactical haggling. Effectively you need to convince the dealer that you are letting them win and that you have bowed to their superior haggling powers. This could be a change in price or incentive of some kind. So if from the outset you say you want a full tax disc included in the price of the car and you are negotiating the final price you can then drop the extras and make your final offer (i.e. "£500 no tax, deal?").
Usually after extensive haggling (and especially if the seller wants a fast sale) they will give in if you convince them they drive a hard bargain. You can also state a maximum price somewhere below your limit. By letting them marginally increase the price a little you can give the seller the sense of achievement that they have won making a smooth sale.
Be aware of techniques used for haggling as often they can be used against you. As you learn more haggling tactics you should start to notice if you are being haggled and be able to come out on top of the situation.