Do you ask for discount?

How much does it cost?

My wife thinks I am cheap. She even makes fun of me saying that my motto is this:

Prices are not that bad if you don’t buy anything

Maybe she’s right, because I don’t like to spend money. Don’t get me wrong, I am a boy and I LIKE boyish stuff.

I like motorcycles. I like guns. I like gadgets. I have one motorcycle, two firearms and tons of gadgets.*

Honda XR650L

My little Honda XR650L

But every time when I buy something I feel an emotional pain, because I don’t like to spend that kind of money on stuff. OK, I have to confess, “that kind of money” for me is $20 and more. I know, I know…

I can’t say I am a hog, “Honey, am I?” But for some reasons I resist to pay the full declared price if a purchase costs us at least $50.

Are There Any Discounts?

“Cultures are different” © Captain Obvious

In some cultures you are expected to ask for discount, it’s normal buying routine for people, for example, in Turkey, Emirates and other Middle East countries.

But for some weird reasons in western culture people are afraid to do so. They think it’s an inappropriate thing to do, it is sort of disrespectful attitude to the seller. When I asked my wife why she doesn’t ask for discount, she told me that she would feel uncomfortable.

I created a poll in my twitter and ask if people ask for discount and the results shocked me.  Almost 60% don’t ask for discount, 6 out of 10 people


People are afraid to be called “cheap”.

While in some countries you might be called hmm… let’s say “unwise” if you don’t negotiate price, in America we’re afraid to be called “cheap” for doing wise things. And nobody wants to be called “cheap”. I don’t.

To mimic comfort zone when we talk about discounts, bargains, negotiations,  we let’s don’t use this c-word. Let’s use WISE instead. And let’s be counter-cultural and don’t be afraid to get a great deal. Which we all want. And there are some techniques to do so which I’m going to share with you.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve got 5-10% discount on certain products (even at groceries stores) just by asking one simple question, “Are there any discounts?”

It could be my Russian accent though, and a cashier just afraid to say NO, but I don’t think so 🙂 

Of course, sometimes I get “No” as an answer, very polite but still “No”. I am totally fine with it, sometimes the store might not have any bargains at the time, or a cashier was just brave enough

Can you do better?

In our household we have a rule that we don’t buy almost anything without checking it first on eBay and/or Craigslist. Even if it’s a brand new music stand that we’ve recently bought on Craigslist for $10 (Amazon price for the same stand is $18).

Because it was brand new the seller was asking $15. Is it a good price for $18 brand new music stand? Of course it is, just by accepting this price you can save $3. But you can save more.

Here’re two simple phrases you need to keep in mind to facilitate your bargaining:

  1. Can you do better?
  2. It’s not good enough.

People who are selling their stuff on the Craigslist and eBay usually what to get rid of the things fast. When you offer reasonable money and quick pickup, people tend to agree on the price you are offering them.

Can you do better?

I stole this template from MMM and his great post “Get rich with Craigslist


I would be interested in this <ITEM> if you can let it go for $<SUMM>.

I understand that you might want to hold out for a better price, but email me back in the future if you decide this will work for you.


The Friendly Russian

You can have this conversation in person but once you are at seller’s house, your position is weaker since they know you drove there most likely willing to pay full price. So start in e-mail.

In my example with the music stand I bought it for $10 keeping in mind this simple phrase – “Can you do better?”

Can you do better?

It’s not good enough

There is another magic phrase that works if you buy something more expensive than a music stand:

It’s not good enough

But this one is tricky, because you have a chance to end up without having a purchase.

If you’ve already got married with an item… take a cold shower, because you shouldn’t. Never get married to a purchase. If that happens, your chances of getting a good deal are slim. Try to at least sleep with your “love” for a couple of nights. Know when to exercise walk-away power, and use it when necessary. If you can show that you have the ability to say NO (so powerful word), then you hold the upper hand in the bargain.

“That’s not good enough!” After you exclaim that, shut up and listen. Sometimes silence can be the key to getting the deal you want.

Of course, if you buy a $10 music stand this phrase might not work and you should not use it in the first place. But for serious purchases such as a furniture, car or any item with premium price tag strategy – I would definitely use it.

Rule of Thumb

There’re a lot of great rules and advice of how to get good bargain, but the main one is – “Treat others as you want to be treated” – the rule of thumb.

  1. Never misrepresent the truth while bargaining.
  2. Never have intention to harm the seller.
  3. Create a win-win deal.
  4. Be ready to walk away from a potential purchase.
  5. Be patient.
  6. Be polite.

And last but not least, spend time according to discount you try to get. Don’t spend two days bargaining with a seller over $1 bubble gum. And be ready to spend couple of days trying to get discount on a car.

Now I have to ask you, my readers: Do you ask for discount?

Do you ask for discount?

  • Always (50%, 4 Votes)
  • Never (25%, 2 Votes)
  • When price's more than $x (25%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 8

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*I have to confess, all the gadgets I have are not mine. I have them because of my job and when I leave the company,  I’ll have to return all the cool toys back.

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3 Responses to Do you ask for discount?

  1. Peter says:

    Very good post Stan. It seems it is a big problem over there in the US. I have to confess most of the times I shy away from bargaining. Also, my proper answer to your poll would be that “depends on the situation”. For example there a lot of places you just cannot negotiate (big supermarkets), while at other ones you are almost obliged to do so (farmers markets). Also, it depends on the amount you buy, for bigger orders I expect to get a discount. We have been once in Turkey at the old marketplace. Until I did not know how things worked I asked for a price and pulled out my wallet right away. The sellers were looking at me like “You are an idiot, why do you pay that much for this?”, but hey its money so they accepted. Later our guide advised us, that we should negotiate because of two reasons: 1) it is calculated into the prices, so if you don’t you will overpay; 2) if you just pay the price without a word they think you are rude and do not want to have a conversation with them. Long story short by the end of the tour we got two Hookahs for 110€ instead of 150€ and two blocks of tobacco as gratis. It was a good deal in my opinion 🙂

  2. I always ask for discounts and have coupons. Military discounts and over 55 discounts are common. Sometimes when you ask, some places just give a 10% discount ‘just because’.

  3. Thanks for sharing! I like that you pointed out that you should treat others how you want to be treated. Because I used to always drive a hard bargain too without any regard for the seller. But someone later reminded me that sometimes the goal isn’t to get the best possible deal if it means you’re robbing the person of their livelihood. So this is more for people who’s selling you a product or service not as a one-time thing like a craigslist situation. But I think overall, it’s a good thing to keep in mind. The goal is to get a fair deal!

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