Shoppers haggle their way to bargains

Thursday, July 24th 2008, 5:33 pm
By: News 9

By Amy McRee, NEWS 9

When Nicole Martinez isn't texting her friends, she's hitting the mall. While she always looks for deals, Nicole was surprised recently when a salesgirl in a clothing store offered to haggle with her on prices.

"She was like giving me 20 percent off on one thing and I was like, ‘I like this other thing. Can I have 30 percent off of that?' And she was ready to do it," Martinez said.

Most people would never expect they could haggle in a clothing store, but money-saving Tawra Kellam said consumers can and should ask for extra savings. Kellam's Web site, offers tips to consumers for saving a buck.

"I have never had the experience of going into a store where they wouldn't haggle in some form," Kellam said.

She said consumers can wheel and deal on everything from dishwashers and dryers to milk and eggs. Many people don't haggle because they're simply too scared.

"If you can get over that fear, you can really start saving huge amounts of money," Kellam said.

She advises consumers to keep in mind timing is everything. For clothes, Kellam said wait for items that are about to go out of season or are slightly damaged. As for diary, find out when new shipments come in, and then ask for a break on what's on the shelves the day before. On big ticket items like electronics or appliances, Kellam said to target the end of the month.

"A lot of times they haven't met their goals for the month and so they're more than willing to wheel and deal with you to give you a good deal," Kellam said.

Paul Mellon isn't a haggler, but he knows how to barter his way to bargains. As the owner of a moving business and adventure travel company, he uses a Web site which allows him to trade those services for all kinds of things.

"Everything from a vacation in Hawaii, acupuncture, clothing, auto repair," Mellon said.

Debbie DeSousa, with Barterbucks, has a network of more than 50,000 members. Members can list what they want to barter or trade and establish a value. When someone uses their services, the member accrues credit in their account that can be used on anything else the site offers.

"When we send you business, we charge you five percent in cash, and when you spend your credits we charge you five percent in cash," DeSousa said.

Some sites charge a flat membership fee and some are free.

"If you asked me to put a dollar amount on it, I'd have to say I've bartered at least a quarter of a million dollars worth of stuff," Mellon said.

Although consumers may not see cash when they barter, they're still responsible for paying taxes on the value of the transactions.