Online price barganing made easy

Gene Menzies saved more than $400 on a computer and $150 on an audio system. When he bought his new TV, he got a $100 gift certificate thrown in. He got all that by bargaining online.

"When I buy online and do some of this bargaining, I'll be saving 10 to 20 percent over what I find in the store," he said.

Gene is one of more than 26,000 subscribers Consumer Reports surveyed about buying electronics.

"We found that people who bargained online were just as successful as those who bargained inside the stores themselves," Ted Marks from Consumer Reports said.

Whether you're online or in the store, people had the most success haggling for prices on TVs, saving an average of $165 and computer buyers saved an average of $105 in another survey.

So how do you get the prices down? First, check online for the lowest price. Then print out what you've found and take it to the store. Or if you're bargaining online like Gene, call the website's customer service number.

"I say, 'I've found it at XYZ store for this amount, can you beat it," he said.

If you're buying more than one item, Gene's got another bargaining trick.

"I said, 'Look, I want two of these things. What can you do?' And they gave me 10 percent off," he said.

Those negotiating techniques work in stores, too. And if you can't get the price down, ask for free accessories or free shipping.

Not all websites make it easy to find a phone number. If you don't see one on the home page, look under "contact," "help," or "customer service." Consumer Reports says it may work to try to bargain online by sending an e-mail or using live chat, if the website offers it.

Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.

(All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2010. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

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