HomeBuying a MotorhomeNegotiating for a Motorhome. How to Haggle. Part 1.

Negotiating for a Motorhome. How to Haggle. Part 1.

When negotiating for a motorhome or anything at all, most Brits hate to haggle, we like the price to be displayed on everything and if we think it’s a fair price, we’ll pay it. If there is no sticker price, we feel immediately uncomfortable.

Many Brits abroad might see a market stall that displays no prices and would rather not buy those apples than have to negotiate a price for them. Or if they do buy them, they often walk away feeling they’ve paid more than they were worth.

It seems since the emergence of the modern supermarket, which displays a non-negotiable price on everything, we somehow lost the basic ability to haggle.

We see price stickers as safe, normally those sticker prices in the supermarket are displaying the very best prices and haggling would be useless, and who would you haggle with anyway, the checkout girl? She has no authority to lower prices.

It doesn’t really matter if we pay over the top on a few apples, but when buying houses, motorhomes and cars, just a little negotiation can save us many thousands.

We know we should haggle

We know that when we come to buy a motorhome, we should haggle. No matter how uncomfortable it feels, we should get a little off that window price. Except that the extent of many peoples haggling is to say “What’s your best price on this one” and then accept any old story that the salesperson responds with, like “that one is already at its lowest price“. OK I’ll take it!

Why don’t we haggle?

So what are we afraid of? Why don’t we like the to-and-fro tussle of a good old haggle? Here are a few reasons people don’t haggle.

  • It’s Uncomfortable
  • You don’t want to look poor or mean
  • You can’t or don’t like lying
  • You might get laughed at
  • This is the van you really, really, want and you might lose it.

Let’s look at these in turn.

Negotiating for a Motorhome is uncomfortable

If you’ve not negotiated before you might feel a little uncomfortable. But haggling is only a conversation and nothing to be afraid of. That the dealer seems so relaxed and in charge might compound this. But you need to work through it, it’s not for long.

Negotiating is only a conversation, and let’s say that in ten minutes of negotiation you can save £2000. That puts you on a rate of around £12,000 an hour, surely that is worth feeling uncomfortable for!

Try to think of negotiation as a game, not a daunting hard game that takes years to master, but a simple game like noughts and crosses, a game that only has a couple of strategies.

If you go first, you go for a corner, if you go second you take the centre square. Take anywhere else and you are likely to lose. If both players know these simple rules, most games of noughts and crosses will end in a draw and that’s how negations should end.

Negotiating for a Motorhome is just like a simple game of noughts and crosses
Negotiation can be as simple as a game of noughts and crosses. You go, he goes, simple strategy means the game is drawn

You don’t want to look poor or mean

For many, after a lifetime of pretending to be richer than they are, it can hurt their ego to pretend they are poor. Ego has no place in negotiations, bring one with you and it will cost you dear.

Who cares what anyone thinks about you, there is no shame in telling someone that you can’t afford that amount. Never be too shy to tell that sharp suited saleperson, that you you are as good as skint. Chances are, no matter how shiny his cufflinks, the salesperson can’t afford the van either!

You can’t lie

You sometimes have to tell white lies when negotiating, these are not on lies on oath, or lies that could get you into trouble, but saying you have less money than you do, or that you don’t have the final say when you do, are all part of the negotiation.

You might get laughed at or make a fool of yourself

The only way you will get laughed at is if you do not negotiate at all. If you pay that windscreen sticker price without so much as a whimper of negotiation, then yes you will get laughed at.

When you drive it away, they’ll be smiling and thinking you’re a bit of a fool for not even trying to get a few quid off. People expect you to negotiate, don’t pay that sticker price!

The Big Fear. This is the van you really, really want, and you might lose it.

You have nothing to lose from negotiating hard, as long as you are nice. Let’s say that you are with a dealer, he has your perfect van, and it’s on sale. You’ve tried every trick you know to get him to lower his price. No, the dealer won’t budge, he says that he can’t take a penny off that sale price.

Even when you did your big show of walking away, he didn’t run after you; you left him your card, but he didn’t call. Have you lost the van? NO! You can always and at any time, swallow, and buy the van! You won’t lose face.

OK, the wife is going to kill me, but yes we’ll have it


Go on then, I’ve got some other savings I can use” 

The van is still for sale, you risked nothing by trying to get it cheaper.

When negotiating for a motorhome too hard backfires

I remember doing a deal on an Auto-Trail at a small Welsh dealership. He was a one-man outfit. He was the boss and salesperson; his wife was in the office and his son polished vans they were a nice family.

I passed this dealer a lot and was aware that he wasn’t shifting many vans. One day when a van caught my eye I stopped to look. It was nice, and the price was reasonable. I realised quickly that the guy seemed a little too desperate to sell. It was early in the year, and I guessed cash-flow was a serious issue and I had cash.

I haggled hard for what seemed like most of an afternoon and then just as he was thinking he had a sale, I left, said I was going to sleep on it. Over the next two days of calls and counter-offers, I got a superb deal and was very pleased with myself. I could see the dealer had made very little if anything on the sale and I was so chuffed when driving it away.

When I got it home, I noticed the removable carpets that I’d seen in the locker when I first saw it, were not there. When I called the dealer, he was just not interested in finding them. About a month later, I called in to see if he could give me contact details of the previous owner as I had found a nest of wires that I was sure only the previous owner could shed light on.

He didn’t like me; he didn’t have to help, and he didn’t.

Sometimes screwing that extra couple of hundred quid really isn’t worth it. A deal should end with both parties happy or it isn’t a good deal. 

The Takeaway

You must haggle, they will think you dumb if you don’t. It’s not difficult, it’s just a conversation.

There should be no BIG winner in motorhome negotiations. Both you and the seller should be happy with the outcome. With motorhomes especially, a deal is often the start of a long relationship. If the dealer feels screwed, or you fall out over the deal, he certainly will not be inclined to help you when you need it in the future.

I Hope you enjoyed this article. Next week we’ll go through some specific negotiation strategies to employ when negotiating for a motorhome.

You can discuss this article on our forums here.


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