Playing “The HDTV Price is Right”

You walk into a big box store like Best Buy and see a price posted on an HDTV. Or you scan through their sales circular and see prices for specific models. That’s the price you’ll pay, right?

Maybe not. According to a report in the New York Times on Sunday, a growing number of United States customers are starting to haggle over prices and they’re successful. According to one former Best Buy salesperson, as many as one quarter of Best Buy customers try to negotiate an additional discount, and “much of the time he was able to oblige them.”

Let’s face it. We’re coming into the slow season for HDTV sales. There may be a small blip from March Madness, but there are doubts about how much of an impact the Beijing Olympics will have on sales. If you make a reasonable offer, chances are good that the sales staff at many consumer electronics stores will do what they can to accomodate you rather than lose the sale to some other store.

Many people in the United States seem to feel that there is something undignified or greedy about haggling over the posted price in a store, though they’re quite comfortable to do so at yard sales or on eBay. And haggling is the norm for doing business in many parts of the world. Current economic conditions prompt U.S. buyers to get the most that they can for their dollar — especially for discretionary purchases — and thus we can expect the haggling habit to increase.

At least you don’t have to haggle over the price of your daily HDTV Almanac!