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Deals on electronics through online haggling

November 4, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
You always see a flurry of electronics sales for "Black Friday," the day after Thanksgiving. Often you can snag a great deal, but not always.However, a just-released Consumer Reports survey shows some savvy negotiating can save you money day-in and day-out. You can even haggle when you're shopping online.

According to Consumer Reports, two-thirds of people who negotiated for a lower price online got it. You don't need a sale to save on electronics.

Gene Menzies saved more than $400 on a computer and $150 on an audio system. When he bought his new television, he got a $100 gift certificate thrown in. And he got all that by bargaining online.

"When I buy online and do some of this bargaining, I'll be saving 10 to 20 percent over what I find in the store," said Menzies.

Menzies is one of more than 26,000 subscribers Consumer Reports surveyed about buying electronics.

"We found that people who bargained online were just as successful as those who bargained inside the stores themselves," said Tod Marks, Consumer Reports senior editor.

Whether you're online or in the store, people had the most success haggling for prices on TVs, saving an average of $165. And computer buyers saved an average of $105 in another survey.

So how do you get the prices down? First, check online for the lowest price. Then print out what you've found and take it to the store. Or if you're bargaining online, call the website's customer-service number.

"I say, 'I've found it at XYZ store for this amount, can you beat it?'" said Menzies.

And if you're buying more than one item, he's got another bargaining trick.

"I said, 'Look, I want two of these things. What can you do?' And they gave me 10 percent off," said Menzies.

Those negotiating techniques work in stores, too. And if you can't get the price down, ask for free accessories or free shipping.

Not all websites make it easy to find a phone number. If you don't see one on the home page, look under "Contact," "Help," or "Customer Service." And Consumer Reports says it may work to try to bargain online by sending an e-mail or using live chat, if the website offers it. Also, some websites, like OneCall.com, allow shoppers to make an offer much like Priceline.com, and they will e-mail you later to let you know if they accept your offer or not.


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