Looking to pay a lower price? Just try asking

NEW YORK Mon Oct 1, 2007 6:27pm EDT

A woman carries bags after shopping in Warsaw in this June 5, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

A woman carries bags after shopping in Warsaw in this June 5, 2007 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Kacper Pempel

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Looking for a lower price on that DVD player at Sears or that refrigerator at Lowe's Cos Inc? Ask for one and you just might get it.

More than 90 percent of shoppers who tried to negotiate a discount on furniture, electronics and appliances, floor and demonstration models, and medical bills got one on at least one purchase in the past three years, according to a new survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

"It's a wake-up call to consumers to realize that the price isn't always the price," said Consumer Reports Senior Editor Tod Marks in an interview.

The survey, which included 2,167 U.S. households, found that of those who negotiated for lower prices on furniture, 94 percent were successful in scoring a lower price at least once in the past three years.

Roughly 93 percent were successful at least once in negotiating reductions on medical bills, while 92 percent were successful at least once in getting a lower price for home electronics products.

Marks said one of the keys to successful haggling is approach.

"You can't bully people into giving you a lower price," he said. "You have to be diplomatic."

He suggested consumers educate themselves, searching online or perusing fliers before they haggle so they know what a fair price is or what type of discount might be reasonable.

When it comes to haggling at a national chain store, he suggested seeking out a store manager instead of a sales clerk.

"The key to being successful at a chain store is dealing with the decision makers," he said.

During the holiday shopping season, don't expect to be able to score a lower price on the hottest new products that might be in short supply, he said.

But he said asking for a lower price on items that are blemished, on clearance or have a short shelf life is a good strategy.

"What's the worst thing that could happen? Somebody says no." he said. "You don't know until you ask."

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