For some reason, most of us 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 the apples than have to negotiate a price for them. Or when they buy them and feel they have paid far more than they were worth.

With the coming of the supermarket, we lost the basic ability to haggle. However, paying over the top on a few apples won’t hurt too much, but when it comes to buying houses, motorhomes and cars, a little negotiating can save us many thousands.

We see 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?

We know, though, that when it comes to buying a motorhome we should haggle, no matter how uncomfortable, and get a little bit 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. Sold.

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 why 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 want and you might lose it.

It’s 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 £200 an hour. Surely that is worth feeling uncomfortable for!

Negotiating for a motorhome

Try to think of it as a game, not a daunting, difficult game that takes years to master, but an easy one, like say noughts and crosses. This simple game 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 rules, most games of noughts and crosses will end in a draw and that’s how negotiations should end.
There should be no big winner in negotiations. Both you and the seller should be happy with the outcome. When it comes to motorhomes, a deal is often the start of the relationship. If the dealer feels screwed, or you fall out over the deal, he might not be inclined to help you when you need it sometime in the future.

I remember doing a deal on an Auto-Trail at a small Welsh dealership. He was a one-man outfit, with his wife in the office and his son polishing vans. I realised quickly that the guy seemed a little too desperate to sell. It was early in the year and I guessed cashflow was an issue and I had cash. I haggled hard for most of an afternoon, 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 really good deal and was pleased with myself. I could see the dealer had made very little if anything on the sale and I was so chuffed 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 the 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.

You don’t want to look poor or mean

For many, after a lifetime of pretending to be richer than you are, it can hurt your ego to pretend you’re poor. Ego has no place in negotiations, bring one with you and it will cost you dear. Who cares what anyone thinks, there is no shame in telling someone that you can’t afford that motorhome. Chances are the salesperson can’t afford it 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 can really do that is to not negotiate at all. If you pay that windscreen price without so much as a wimper of negotiation, then yes when you walk away, they’ll be smiling and thinking you’re a bit of a fool.

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

You really have nothing to lose from negotiating (as long as you are nice, more about that next month) 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 swallow. Go and buy the van. “OK, the wife is going to kill me”. “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. 


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