This article is based on a recent, personal experience of buying new furniture. The business practices stated within this article do not represent the business practices of all furniture stores. Due to the subjectiveness of this article, and the personal experience content, there can be no guarantee that the results can be duplicated for you, if and when you attempt to purchase furniture. Enjoy.
In September of 2016 my wife and I began considering new furniture for our living room. We had the same couch and chaise lounge since we got married in 2009. It was great furniture that has years more use to it, but for us it was time. We had originally started considering building a new home which in turn led to us thinking about furniture, but plans for that unfortunately fell through.
On December, 30 2017, we made our purchase. A beautiful couch, loveseat, and chair and a half with an ottoman. It only felt right to share the experience we had in our adventure in furniture buying.
I’m not going to name the company that we dealt with, mainly to avoid conflict if somehow down the line that were to arise. The majority of our previous purchases have been from this chain, and overall we have been satisfied with our dealings with them.
…This go around was slightly different.
One Saturday we went in to look at the furniture we were interested in. We had already been acquainted with the brand and felt that it fit our wants and needs. Of course we were quickly greeted by an anticipating salesman as soon as we walked through the door. …shocking, huh?
He was a nice guy that apparently knew his stuff and was very personable. Having a background in automotive I am highly unintimidated by salespeople. So as we perused the showroom, he gave us info about the furniture of course, but also mentioned at lease twice that their company doesn’t mark their furniture up as much as others do. To me, that’s an immediate red flag, but I just let him talk as highly as he wanted about who he works for. As we rerouted back to what we were originally looking at I examined the price guide on the coffee table and noticed prices were “slashed” from MSRP. To be honest, up to this point I never really had a haggling bone in my body, but I felt the fire rise up in me to want to make a deal. We didn’t buy that night though. We were waiting until after Christmas to see how much cash we would get to help.
The following Tuesday morning I saw a commercial on TV for the company we were at saying “sales tax paid” until the first of the year. Intrigued, we went back up there that night only to find that the “slashed” prices were raised $100 on almost each item in that living room collection. This is not a new business practice and once again, I was not surprised. Nonetheless it still pissed me off and added fuel to the flame of haggling already kindled within me.
The next day I chose to do a little online investigating because the salesman informed me that they price match any advertised price… Challenge accepted. I checked the manufacturers website for a SKU# and exact title for the furniture and off I went. I consistently found prices identical to the original company we dealt with, but I also found prices much higher. Not to mention the half dozen articles verifying the high markup in the furniture industry. Through my web surfing journey I stumbled across a company that had the exact set we wanted. One problem though. They were in Colorado. I didn’t let that stop me though because the pricing was considerably lower than what was listed by the original company. As soon as my eyes saw it it dumped a deluge more of gasoline to make the haggling inferno inside me turn white hot… it was time.
Like a four year old running to the teacher to rat on his classmate, I immediately called the salesman to tell him my find. It was a high I’ve never felt before and I am proud to say I am forever hooked. He asked me what website I found the pricing and I informed him. He quickly stated he’d need to get with his manager to check on what they could do, but before I let him hang up the phone I spat out my offer. In response he says, “No guarantees, Mr. Kent. I’ll get back with you as soon as possible.” (Click)… I thought to myself, “I’ve won this battle!”
A little later he calls back. I rushed away from my desk to answer. I expected, “Sir, you got a deal!”, but noooo… They had to throw in that I would have to pay at least $300 in shipping to get it to me from that company in Denver, and that that company can’t be making a dime on that furniture for the price they have it listed for. I stopped him abruptly mid-sentence at that point, “Don’t give me that. I’ve been in sales and around retail long enough to know that a business does not sell anything to make nothing. You can’t tell me that you aren’t making money if you sold me the furniture at what I offered.” He jabbed back, “This is what we can let it go for, blah blah blah…”. I firmly and assuredly repeated what I would pay for it and of course, like before, he had to go back to his supervisor. The final reciprocal phone call, I thought, would be my victory solidified…
They gave up the fight, but not in the way that favored me. They basically decided it would be better for them not to get a sale at all and would not come off their counteroffer. I was beyond dumbfounded. What arrogance?! What horrible business practice?! I’m pretty sure there is an unwritten statistic that verifies at least 20 out of 10 salespeople would agree, “A little profit is better than no profit.”
The devil is a liar!
After the call I was about 95% sure he’d call back that night to apologize and beg for my business, and eventually agree to my offer. Nope. The call never came.
I gave it till that Friday to call back. When I did, the salesman was very cordial and was still genuinely interested in helping me. He informed me that his hands really were tied on the matter. I made a counteroffer on their counteroffer, and let him know we’d be checking other places, but would be stopping by again Saturday. He didn’t call back that day.
That Saturday, we went back. The salesman approached and was easily read as being overwhelmed by a busy day. We conversed about my last offer, and to my dismay they still wouldn’t budge. We strolled through the store to arrive by the furniture we want. The salesman thought at this point it’d be best for me to deal directly with the sales manager. I agreed. As the manager approached, my wife asked if she and my son should go to another part of the store. I strongly agreed. My son doesn’t need to see this side of me yet. To be honest I didn’t know how it would play out.
We haggled together… it was awesome. I wanted the furniture, and he knew it. I knew that was why he wouldn’t meet me where I offered. However, he made one last offer. I paused and stared at the price for dramatic effect. “Let me go talk with my wife.” I turned away quickly, as if I was mad, for more dramatic flare.
We agreed to the price.
Though we didn’t get it for what we wanted to give for it, we still came out better than some putz who went in there and paid full sticker. We learned a stout lesson with this endeavor— get over my pride, and haggle.
As an average consumer who has to budget and make good, responsible financial decisions I owe it to myself and my family to not pay full sticker on major purchases ever again. Even if we were well off, I would still haggle. From now on I will put up a fight that proves I work hard for the money I’m spending, and am not willing to give it up easily.
Haggling is an American institution. Join the club.