Haggling Down Prices At Home Depot?

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Now that we have our own home and backyard patio, we decided to buy our first propane grill and invite some people over. We had to schedule a convenient time to have my father-in-law come drive down with us since he has a truck, so we had pretty much decided to just buy whatever was cheap and in stock. No hours of research this time! Although some of our serious grilling friends told us to buy a high quality $400+ model, which is probably good advice, we really just wanted something simple to start out with. If we grilled often enough, then later we could upgrade to something that would last a long time.

We had our eye on a $199 Brinkmann grill with some decent BTU, grill space, and also shelf space. But when we got there, they were cleaned out except for one last box that was definitely a previous return. The box was opened, slightly ripped, and had the words “Returned – Missing Parts, Send to Dept #18577” scrawled on the side with permanent marker. It had no special price tag.

All the other sub-$300 cheap grills were also sold out, even after spending 20 minutes searching through all the racks and the help of a Home Depot employee. Even neighboring stores were sold out. The next-cheapest one was $319 for a basic Weber grill, but we decided against it due to price and lack of shelf space.

We finally decided to rummage through the open box and see what was in there, and couldn’t find any obvious missing parts. So we asked the employee if we could buy the “open box”. Sure, he said. Can we get a discount? It says it’s missing parts. He replied that he could give us 10% off. I actually thought about taking it, but my father-in-law said that wasn’t worth the hassle. So we asked for more. How about 35% off? He said he couldn’t do that, and that he’d have to find his manager for such a reduction. Yes, please ask! He kindly tried, explained about the missing parts, and the manager approved.

Out the door with a $199 grill for $130 and the full standard return policy, not bad. We went home and assembled it with no problems at all. Either the parts were actually found or the last person simply lied when returning the grill. I’m not expert, but I think it’s a great starter grill for $130. All I know is that steaks taste better outdoors. 🙂

So that’s how we walked in ready to pay full retail price, and yet ended up haggling at a big-box corporate store. While I still wouldn’t try and negotiate for new items at Home Depot, it’s definitely worth a try for “scratch and dent” items you may run across!

Update: Looks like the New York Times has more examples: Even at Megastores, Hagglers Find No Price Is Set in Stone.

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  1. Why wouldn’t you negotiate for new items? What it comes down to is getting something you want at a price you’re willing to pay. In many cases, it may not be worth the time and effort to negotiate, but as far as I’m concerned, all prices are suggestions.

  2. You should’ve gone for the Weber. My guess is you’ll be replacing this new grill in at most 2 years.

  3. naiserie, I don’t think it’s necessarily a foregone conclusion that the Weber was the right choice. The Weber may be a superior product than the Brinkmann, but when you make a purchase, you need to conduct an analysis to determine what is the best product for your own personal needs. In this case, the price and lack of shelf space were contributing factors that made the Brinkmann the more attractive option. This reminds me of a conversation I overheard in a fast food restaurant several years ago. Person 1 had a coupon for a free meal. Person 2 suggested that Person get the most expensive meal. Person 1’s response was that he should just get the meal that he wanted.

  4. We have a similar grill story. Different retailer, but my wife got a great grill for chump change because it was returned saying ‘missing parts.’ As with you, there were no missing parts; just some half-finished work. I guess puting a grill together is too much for some people.

  5. Aaron, your analogy doesn’t apply. When you run the numbers on replacing a grill, combined with the customer service reputation (ease of replacement parts, warranty etc) of the manufacturer, it makes no sense to save a few dollars in the short term.

  6. Dan Isaacs says

    You know, I still have and use my $320 Weber grill, now entering it’s 10th year. And while I have had to replace the grates and the drip covers, the grill itself is still rock solid. Even after 6 years of being left outside during the winter.

    If I’d settled for a less expensive $200 grill, I would have needed to replace it by now. My total cost for grilling, excluding fuel costs, is $320 in 1998 dollars plus ~$100 in 2007 dollars.

    Now, maybe things have changed in ten years. Maybe those less expensive grills are built better. But I doubt it.

  7. At Home Depot, there are two types of regular employees on the sales floor – Associates and Specialists. Specialists tend to be found in departments like Appliances, Kitchen Design, Flooring, Doors & Windows… Specialists have a target sales “plan” (a quota), and they have the ability to reduce your purchase price up to $50. Anything more than that, and a manager must approve, but most specialists will be willing to talk to their manager because they need to hit their plan numbers. So sometimes, it’s just a matter of asking the right person.

    I ask if there is a discount that I can get, at nearly every store, every time I shop for anything. (Not Target or the grocery store, but pretty much everything else.) I’m successful about 70% of the time.

  8. I’ve made the mistake of going the cheap route on grills before. Aside from the very short lifespan they tend to have, they also tend to have very uneven heat distribution (i.e. food in the back gets burned, while food in the front is still raw), and they usually have more flare-up problems. You can baby the grill and extend its lifespan somewhat, and keeping it super clean will help a little with the flare-ups, but there is little you can do about uneven cooking aside from constantly moving all the food around the grill.

    Aaron, the coupon/meal analogy is a good story, but doesn’t relate well to this situation. The meal is a consumable. The grill is a durable good. You only need to eat what will satiate your hunger, so getting a larger meal just because you can is a waste. However, it could be argued that buying a cheaper grill is a waste because it won’t last as long and you will be replacing it soon with a likely more durable and expensive grill, which you could have simply purchased in the first place, thus sparing the expense of the cheap grill. Sort of “penny wise, pound foolish.”

    Weber backs their products pretty well. Most any grill will need to have parts replaced at some point (the starter or burners, for instance) but Weber will cover those parts for at least 10 years and I frequently hear of people calling into their customer service after ten years and getting parts replaced for free as well.

    The old adage “you get what you pay for” is still generally true.

  9. Would the same argument be made for buying a car? Everyone should buy a Lexus instead of a Toyota, an Acura instead of a Honda, and an Infiniti instead of a Nissan because the premium brands offered by each of these companies has superior performance, comfort, and reliability to the base brands. When making a purchase, the buyer needs to consider various factors, and all these factors will differ from person to person. That’s all I’m saying. A person who gets extensive use out of a grill and grills 4-5 times per week has different needs than someone who is buying a grill for the camping trips they take once per year.

  10. I agree – why not haggle?

    Funny because just yesterday a relative was saying you can’t haggle for a washer/dryer at Sears. My dear husband, said, um, yeah, we did. We don’t shop anywhere that doesn’t haggle. You can usually get them to pay the sales tax or at least SOMETHING. If you ASK. We have been to the stores that don’t budge on price, and have walked out. (Likewise my husband buys most his electronics online. Usually he calls and asks for a discount though and he usually gets one. Like 10% off just for asking. So for that kind of stuff I have to say we don’t bother much with the big stores. But I think the idea doesn’t occur to most people to ask).

    Likewise, there was an article in the newspaper yesterday about how a lot of big box stores are giving their salespeople leeway to haggle, in this economy. Yes, even on the new stuff. So I actually thought this is what your post was about when I saw the title. It is a good time to remind people about the art of negotiation – it’s going to be more prevalent for a while.

  11. Alexandria, I agree that most people don’t think you can negotiate prices. A lot of people get intimidated by the thought of negotiating a price. At Saturn, I don’t know if they still do it, but they used to promote their sales process as buyer friendly because no price haggling was involved. To me, that sounds like a benefit for the dealership. My view is that if I want to get something, there’s even more benefit and utility derived from the purchase if I can pay less. I’ve even seen articles about people negotiating financial aid packages at colleges and universities, which surprisingly surprised some of my friends.

  12. Aaron, your (new car) analogy (still) doesn’t apply.

    At the point you ever replace a shoddy grill, you’ve spent more than you would have on a higher quality grill initially.

    The basic point of haggling is well taken, but in my view, when buying a tangible good, paying less for a poor product doesn’t make the purchase a good one. Lipstick on a pig and whatnot.

  13. Aaron,

    The car analogy is closer, but still not a good fit. Lexus, Acura, etc. are luxury brands. I am not suggesting buying a “luxury grill”, but a quality one. Toyota and Honda are quality cars that will last as long or longer than their more complicated luxury counterparts. A better car-related analogy is that if quality is a car buyer’s primary interest, that they should buy a highly rated quality car like a Toyota or Honda, rather than saving a few dollars on a lower quality car.

  14. When it comes to negotiating open box means open season. These are items the stores have a hard time moving and thus are willing to wheel and deal. One of my favorite strategies is to get them to negotiate to a point and then ask for a gift card. This is a favorite for managers because then you are coming back to spend money. I usually ask for 10% extra in gift cards. Ex. I bought an open box refrigerator. It was originally $1300. They took the price down to $950 (it had an unnoticeable dent on the side). I offered $800 with an $80 gift card. Manager accepted after employee asked.

    On the grill subject I bought a “cheapo” grill while in college from Wal-Mart. Darn thing just keeps on going. We are now on year 5 and no problems. Got it on clearance for $70 and going strong. It pretty much looks brand new and grills exactly the same as the day I got it. Left it in the ran for 2 years too.

  15. naiserie, I still don’t agree that buying the Weber is the best option for everyone, which seems to be your assertion. There are so many factors involved with making a purchase.

    Try this scenario: You are going across the country for college. Instead of bringing everything with you, you decide to buy a refrigerator when you get to school. While certain models will last longer, your goal is to get the item that will last the four years. Sure, a SubZero refrigerator will provide you will years of refrigerated enjoyment, but in this scenario, couldn’t it be viewed as a better option to purchase the cheaper Sanyo model, especially if you have no intention of bringing the refrigerator back with you across the country?

    As for negotiating, I don’t look at settling for an inferior product as a means of saving money. I will determine the best product for my needs, and from there, negotiating a lower price for that product is the goal.

  16. I’ve negotiated for price reductions a few times and it’s worked pretty much every time I’ve tried it. Surprisingly the place I have the most success is when checking into hotels… All you have to do is ask and they’ll usually drop 10% off the price on the spot.

  17. My advice on grills is to either by the very best or the absolute cheapest. The top-quality grills will last. The medium-quality grills don’t seem to last any longer than the el cheapo grills, so if you don’t want to go all out, just get a cheap one. It will last as long as the mid-level grills.

  18. Open box item discounts are great but I don’t think it’s ethical to go in to a retail store and try to buy stuff for less than the tagged retail price.

  19. Home Depot also has a meet and beat policy. I have been doing a bit of remodeling, and as a matter of habit, I check the prices and selection of things at various hardware stores. Home Depot is the farthest away, so they are always last.

    As a rule, if Walmart carries the same item, then they are the cheapest. But it can vary with the hardware stores. I happened to be looking at something and asked the sales fellow if they had plumb bobs, which they did for $4.97. I happened to mention that so-and-so had them for $4.45, and maybe I’d just pass and pick it up on my way back. The guy didn’t even blink and said, “I can sell this one to you for $4.” So I took it.

  20. Interesting coincidence: haggling big name stores just happens to be the topic of the most popular story on nytimes.com today: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/23/business/23haggle.html

  21. We’ve been happy with our cheap grills, I don’t mind moving the food around, and we actually like using wood in the cheapest cheapo grill (really meant for charcoal) best. Has the best flavor, plus I can get wood for free.

  22. in the townhouse i rent, the previous renters left a grill and patio furniture etc. it’s an old craftsman grill and the wooden handle was rotted out, so i have to open it with the handle brackets. but i replaced the grate and put some fresh propane charcoal briquet things in and a new propane tank and the thing runs like new. basically free and the thing starts with one ignition click every single time i am amazed

  23. I’m a big fan of haggling the big boxes, but only when you have the time. Very often, they have to get the manager’s approval. I had a similar HD story when I bought my lawn mower. The accidentally marked this year’s model at last year’s discount and “had to give us the price as marked.”

    I also was given a bulk discount when I bought 5 shrubs at Lowe’s because I asked. The garden manager was gone for the day, and the store manager was too busy to deal with me, telling the clerk “sure, it’s fine.”

  24. I used to work at The Depot and your story isn’t really that out-of-whack.

    There is a hierarchy to what kinds of discounts can be granted depending on position. This typically relates to broken or otherwise non-standard products or ones that have been discontinued. But it doesn’t have to.

    The real point is that they need to have a reason to sell you the merchandise at a discount. And the situations in which that will be the case are the ones listed above.

  25. Here is a good article in the NY Times about how big-box stores are starting to accept haggling to retain customers.


  26. Thats amazing, Ive done plenty of haggling in my life: new car, flea markets, etc but I have never tried to haggle at Home Depot!

  27. Did you all see this article in the NYT yesterday? About bargaining at big box stores – including Home Depot – and getting substantial discounts.

    “Even at Megastores, Hagglers Find No Price Is Set in Stone” –

  28. Fortunately, we inherited a grill from brother-in-law and sister-in-law. They had it for more than 5 years, one of the knobs is a little broken, and now we’ve had it for about 4 years. It seems to work fine. Many times though I’ve been waiting for it to to kick so we can buy a beautiful new stainless steel kind (for around $600, not the really, really expensive ones). But hey, I’m not really complaining — it can last forever and that would fine. It’s not so pretty, but that’s okay. I’m not sure I really like steaks better on the bbq (kinda like them broiled in the oven), but I definitely like the way fish comes out. We put the fish in good seasons italian, then wrap it in tin foil and it comes out great. My husband likes the steak grilled, but I find it often gets that “smoky” taste which I’m not crazy about.

    But good haggling anyway! And are you getting your new homeowner 10% discount coupons from Home Depot in the mail yet? You can sign up for it online.

  29. I’ve successfully haggled for an open box airless paint sprayer at Lowe’s that was missing some minor part. It was priced at $400–I got it for $200! It worked great, so I sold it to my contractor for something like $250.

  30. My aunt haggles at Wal-mart all the time, and is suprisingly successful most of the time. She’s done it for dvd players, toys (at Christmastime too!), and exercise equiptment, and then everyone is surprised when she gets 15 or 20 % off. At all stores the listed prices are not contract offers but rather invitations to make a contract. Asking for a lower price doesn’t always work, but it’s always worth asking.

  31. You have to haggle! Most stores appear receptive to it. At Home Depot I wanted to purchase a Scott’s lawn tractor and I presented an ad from Sears for a craftsman. I made the case that the one at Sears was basically the same for $500 less. They matched the price and I was out the door in 15 minutes. Since then I haggle about any major purchase there with good success.

  32. Black Hammer says

    My wife similarly haggled the price down on a handbag at Banana Republic an extra 20% because the handles were somehow assembled backward.

    When we got home, we got a pair of pliers and took the handles off and reversed them to be facing the right direction. Perfect!

  33. i tried to negotiate rent and the old geezer said….i dont know which part of the world you are from, but we dont negotiate rent here.

  34. Try a haggle situation between the two big boxes if you really want results. Just bought a dishwasher and saved $50 just by mentioning the other box. Bought doors and shopped them both to death, and just mentioned what the other store would do, and saved over 1000 on silly install fees that the blue box said I needed, the orange box beat them by 10%. I will now shop them against each other every time now with the exception of small items!

  35. Wow!! When I saw this on the morning news………I had no idea it was THEEEE news story for the ENTIRE COUNTRY!!!

    Musta’ been a sloooooooooow newsday today!!

  36. My story is with a moving dolly at Home Depot….the one I wanted that was for like 200 lbs was sold out….I asked and they gave me the 600 lb heavy duty one for the same price as the 200 lbs version.

  37. This article is about how to become a smart shopper (spender) rather than smart investor (saver). Everyone is trying to figure out how to haggle and bargain, but no one is suggesting that a BBQ grill is not really that necessary. Out door grilled stake may taste better than in door one, some people might say that charcoal grilled meat always taste better than gas grilled. In that sense, you can totally get a juicy tasty char-grilled stake for a bag of charcoa ($5?) at your local park.

  38. Harrington Brooks says

    Congrats, nice little bargain you got yourself there. I used to work in a shop myself and probably would have said the same as that guy, I’m surprised the manager went so low.

  39. Tom Miller says

    I always haggle prices down when ever I can. A friend of mine is always suprised at the amount of free or discounted food I get at resturants. Just the other night we went to a pizza place. I asked them to bake the pizza less, so it is not so dark, and when it came, it was over done. I told them they can either remake it, or discount this one. They gave me half off. Another discount story was at an office store. My cousin wanted to purchase a piece of software. They did not have the one he wanted, but they did have the next higher version. I asked them if they would sell us the higher version for the price of the lower one, and they agreed. Saved him $75 bucks.

    Just goes to show you that if you don’t ask, then you will never know. And what is the worst they can say, NO! Haggle away!

  40. kbanashek says

    I’ve done this type of haggling MANY of times no matter what store I’m (from Target to Rite Aide)- however one store that I’ve been the most effective at has been Ikea in there Scratch & Return bin area. Usually there’s some younger guys working in there and I ask them if they’ll hook me up with an additional 20% of the already reduced price. One thing ive noticed is to go after dinner during the week – weekends are a MAD house in that place and everyone is about to pull their hair out.

  41. Actually Arz, propane grills are much cheaper and more efficient than electric/gas stoves and ranges. One twenty pound propane tank costs me 27 bucks to fill and lasts usually 8-10 months using it 3 times a week or so. The food tastes better too. Charcol is a waste of time and money.

    Going to restraunts and haggling over the price of the meal is not a good idea, don’t ever mess with people who handle your food.

    All this talk about haggling and not paying full price and asking for discounts just because you think your entitled reminds me of the gypsies that used to come in to the auto parts store I worked at. I’d say hell no go away and the GM would agree. Don’t you understand these are businesses and not just outlets of consumer items? What makes people think there entitled to something for nothing?

    This is sad and typical of the new type of american consumer. Everything is a right and no longer a privellage. Your lucky to even have the opportunity and money to buy whatever you want whenever you want but not only that you don’t have to pay full price because you’re outspoken…


  42. Nice bargain on the grill.

    I’ve haggled many times in the past at big box retailers and usually give it a shot when I’m purchasing something which costs $100 or more. My experience has been very favorable — computers, electronics, furniture, etc all have been discounted for me at various stores. I don’t do it as much these days since I buy many items online now.

    I will haggle at smaller mom & pop stores too by offering to pay with cash. Merchants don’t like sucking up the cost of the Visa/MC transaction fees and shadier places don’t want a credit card paper trail which can be audited by the IRS. Paying cash at smaller places usually gets at least 10% off if negotiated properly.

    In my experience, almost everything is negotiable if you ask.

  43. LOL I just did a story on propane.

  44. Tom,

    It is also our right as Americans to haggle if we want. If your parts store doesn’t want to haggle, then so be it! I’ll go down the road if need be especially if the retailer is sky high on their product! Not to mention you’re still paying for a product that the retailer is making a profit on even if it is a smaller profit than before..

  45. WTF with all the people saying haggling is immoral? It’s not like haggling forces the retailer to accept it. You’re telling them the price you’d be willing to purchase for and otherwise you’ll leave. They can then decide whether or not they’re willing to sell for that price. Retailers will increasingly be willing to cut margins to maintain volume and profits.

    Let me guess… you guys always buy stock by hitting the ask, right?

    Go to any African country and buy something for the sticker price. You’ll be “the mark” for the rest of your visit.

    Corporate America has conditioned you to the rules they’d like you to play by.


  47. Beerman, what a load of gargabe. I work for The Depot and employees at retail big box stores do not make anymore or less depending on how many markdowns the store takes. In fact, the store has a budgeted markdown plan. They plan for markdowns in their finacial budget. Haggle away people. If there is a good reason why something should be marked down. The Depot and I’m guessing other big boxes will almost always give you a discount

  48. Haggle away AND look for value!! I have cooked out three nights in a row after rebuilding my Sunbeam gas grill. I got a heck of a bargain paying full retail for this grill almost 12 years ago!! Sure, I’ve replaced burners four times and had to replace venturi adjustment gadget and bottom grate this time but have still spent less in 12 years than I would have if I had purchased a similarly sized Weber. I remember the numbers, I paid $199 for a July 4 endcap special at Home Depot and the similarly sized Weber at the time was $499! (I think they may have lowered prices since then – not sure)

    I’ve seen Weber’s cook and heard other Weber owners talk enough to realize they do not live up to their hype! I’ll take my bargain green Sunbeam grill anyday!! And, I’ll haggle any price I feel I have a reasonable chance of having adjusted. Hooray for value shopping!!!

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