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Don't Be Afraid to Ask for a Better Deal

Mustering the courage to ask for one can save thousands a year.

When searching for the best deal available, one money-saving tool people often overlook is their own self-confidence.

Learning how to ask salespeople if there is a better deal on what you're about to purchase can save you thousands of dollars a year. It's one of the easiest money-saving plans to implement. The problem, however, is that people often don't feel comfortable asking if there is a better deal available.

The truth is that it doesn't need to be uncomfortable at all, if you go about it the right way.

Part of it is being proactive in the way you ask. If you walk into a hotel and ask for the room rates, you're going to receive the standard room price. If you instead walk in and explain that you are looking for the best deal you can find for a room and let the hotel know all the organizations you belong to such as AAA or AARP -- which often receive discounts -- then the person at the front desk is more likely to help you find the best price for the room.

You can even go so far as to ask if they are running any specials or have any coupons currently out. If they are running coupons, they likely have a copy of the publication and will often offer it to you.

Here are some things you should keep in mind when asking for a better deal:

Ask for help:

When trying to find a better deal, explain your situation and always ask the person for their help. People like to help others, especially when they know the reason that they are helping. If you need an inexpensive first computer for your child to help him with his school work, explaining this will likely motivate the salesperson to help you more than if you simply ask for the cheapest available.

Salespeople often can draw from their experience and knowledge to offer acceptable less-expensive alternatives that you may not have considered. They might also be aware of upcoming sales that can get you the same item for less, if you wait a week or two.

Always be polite:

When you are asking for all the available options, always be courteous and smile. If you demand information and are hostile, there is no incentive for the salesperson to try to help you. The only incentive that you create when you are rude and demanding is for the salespeople to try to get you away from them as quickly as possible.

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Always treat the staff with respect and kindness -- exactly how you would want to be treated yourself. Most salespeople have some leeway in the price they offer. Or if they don't themselves, they can take the request to their boss.

Higher is better:

If given a choice of whom to talk with, always choose the highest person in the chain of command. As rank increases, so does the power of the person to make exceptions. A manager will usually have more flexibility and more authority to make a better deal than a salesperson.

Point out the reason:

Be sure to mention any legitimate reason you should expect a better deal than the average customer. If a competitor

has a similar product or service available for less, mention that. If you have been a long-time customer, mention that. Doing this will not guarantee you get a better deal, but it will let the salespeople know that there are reasons that you feel entitled to a better deal, and it might get them to help a bit more.

Reward:

Be sure to reward a salesperson who helps you get a better deal than you would have normally received. Take the time to inform his or her manager of the quality service you received and send a letter to the company headquarters mentioning the salesperson who helped you.

By rewarding, you increase your chances that the next time that you come in looking for a better deal, the salesperson will go out of his or her way to help you find the best bargain.

Asking if there is a better deal than the one you are getting doesn't cost a dime. While it might take some time to get comfortable doing it, it's well worth it. It can be one of the most powerful money-saving tools you possess.

Jeffrey Strain has been a freelance personal finance writer for the past 10 years helping people save money and get their finances in order. He currently owns and runs SavingAdvice.com.