Asking for a Lower Price

Knocking a few dollars off bills or even food purchases just takes a few minutes.

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Last week, I spent the morning at a local farmer's market with a shopper working on her negotiating skills for a segment for Channel 9 News. To get the best deal possible, we followed the golden rule of negotiating: Just ask. Simply saying "Could you give me a discount on that?" knocked a couple dollars off each purchase, from jewelry to food.

After buying a salmon dinner and two pairs of earrings for a total of $20, the camera crew and I visited a woman who was trying to get a better deal on her homeowners' insurance. It had gone up by about $20 from the previous year and she wanted to see if she could persuade Allstate to lower the price. So, once again, we called, she asked, and they said yes—they knocked $12 off right away, and offered a bigger discount if she also purchased her auto insurance through the company.

Then, once I got home, I realized I had some negotiating of my own to do. I needed to buy jewelry insurance for my engagement ring, something I had never gotten around to doing even though I've been married for more than three years. Allstate had offered me insurance for $69 a year, about $20 more than a quote I received from another company. In the interest of convenience, because I already buy renter's insurance through Allstate, I was hoping to get Allstate to lower its fee to match the $50 quote.

So, I called. And I asked. And the nice woman on the other end of the phone told me she was sorry, but $69 was as low as she could go. I was disappointed, but at least I knew I tried.

Have you had any luck negotiating lately? Is it something you feel comfortable doing?

If you're in the Washington area, you can watch this special report on Channel 9 News Tuesday night at

11 p.m.