How to haggle: the eight phrases that pay

How to haggle - without the risk of embarrassment - with the eight secrets of the art

How to haggle

Only one in three of us regularly ask for a discount. A recent survey revealed that 73% of us are too embarrassed to ask for money off, while 45% say they don't know how to do it effectively. But what if you could be armed with the phrases that pay?

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The research, by Topcashback.co.uk, also found that we can save an average of £415 a year by haggling, so it's worth arming ourselves with the magic phrases that make haggling far more effective - and much less embarrassing.

1. I like it, but it's just beyond my budget.
An opener like this will determine whether they are the kind of operation that offers a discount. If they are open to haggling, then they won't just shut you down, but will say something positive.

2. What sort of deal can you do for me?
Ideally get them to make the opening offer. Use this kind of phrasing, which makes it sound like you're definite that you will be offered a deal.

3. I was hoping to spend closer to xx
When it's your turn to make an offer, go in with something lower than your target price, so there's some wiggle room.

4. Silence
It can be tempting to fill a silence - especially if they don't look particularly enthusiastic about your offer. Leave a longer gap, and they may well come in with a counter-offer.

5. I've seen it for sale at xx, can you match it?
If you're buying something being sold by a number of retailers, do your research beforehand, and find the best possible deal - online or on the high street. Then print the offer out to show to them - or if you're haggling by phone, offer to email it to them.

This is useful in two scenarios: first is if your negotiations are failing to come down near this price, because it will re-set the target price for both of you. It's also handy if you can't face to-ing and fro-ing. It's simple to ask them to match the price, and then take it or leave it.

6. My wife/husband would kill me if I spent more than xx
This good cop/bad cop stuff is handy if you are embarrassed about admitting it's you that doesn't want to pay the full price.

7. Can you include a xxx
Asking for extras is a decent place to go if you can't get them to knock enough off the asking price.

8. I don't think we can do a deal at this level
Only use this if you truly believe it, and you are prepared to walk away. Stay polite and positive, thank them, and leave. If they have any power to cut the price further, they will offer to do so, but if they don't have the power, you will have to walk away - so don't try to bluff.

Natasha Rachel Smith, consumer affairs editor for Topcashback, suggests starting off in an environment that feels more comfortable, such as on holiday, or on the phone when renewing media and internet contracts - which are famous for being open to haggling. Once you're ready to move onto haggling face-to-face, you can try a market, where haggling is more expected. Once you've cracked that, the world is your oyster.

If all else fails, she says, you should still avoid paying the full price. It's worth checking our guide to cheaper online bargains for 10 haggle-free steps to avoid paying full price for anything.

Save money on shopping: ten great tricks

Save money on shopping: ten great tricks