Haggling is one the most important aspects of making a deal. I've seen people get items for 30% of what they were originally offered simply because they knew how to haggle well. But for all its importance, it is something I frequently see done wrong. In this guide I will try my best to show you when and how to haggle to get the best deal you can.
Step One: Knowing when to go for a Deal
Although I am of the opinion that you should attempt a deal no matter the odds, this can be time consuming and you can lose track of what deals you are making. It is therefore in your best interest to only go for a deal that you are confident you can make. One of the key aspects of this is knowing the person you are buying from. This takes general knowledge of the market. Say, for example, that you are buying off of someone who you know to be tight with their TC. You will of course be less inclined to buy off of them as you know that you will get less for your TC. If, however, you know that the person you are buying off gives good deals, or they are inexperienced, then go for it.
Don't be fooled into thinking that just because someone is the only one selling something at one time, that you won't be able to buy it in the future. I see this happen all the time. A person will see something rare being sold, and they think that they have to buy it, so they will buy it at a higher price than it is actually worth. Don't be fooled into doing this. If it is too expensive then don't buy it.
Step Two: The Opening Bid
In my opinion the opening bid is the single most important thing that takes place in a deal. With that one deal you establish a number of things that will influence the entirety of the deal. The first thing that the opening bid does is establish the boundaries of how much you are willing to spend. The formula that I use is that the highest you will go is 30% more than your opening bid. This is easiest to explain with an example. Say there is a Crimson Force that you want and you have an opening bid of 4k TC. Therefore, the highest you will ever pay for that is 5.2k.
The next thing that the opening bid does is portray to the seller what kind of buyer you are. Some buyers will actually give you a better deal if your opening bid is higher than what you would normally give. This is because they will be offended if you opening bid is too low. Some sellers will even ignore your bid completely if it is too low. Knowing this comes down to experience.
Now as to what your opening bid should be. There are two tools that are vital when it comes to making an opening bid. The first is experience. The second is Deal Finder. Although there are people who will tell you that Deal Finder (DF) is useless, this is far from the truth. More than anything, DF establishes the pricing of almost every item (there are some items that are exempt from this). Therefore, before you place a bid, you should check DF. Going back to the Crimson Force from earlier, at the time of writing the cheapest DF price was 9k TC. Now, your opening bid should always be less than half of the cheapest DF price. The amount less than half depends on a number of factors.
The first factor that should be considered is the price of the item. You can always get a higher percentage off from a lower value item. If the cheapest price is 40 TC in DF, you can probably get the item for about 8 TC or 20% of the price, whereas if the item is 250k in DF, then you can probably get it for around 160k TC or 64% of DF.
The second factor you should consider is the rarity of the item you are buying. Rarer items will always, without exception, sell for higher than common items. The third factor you should consider is the attitude of the seller. I went over this earlier but I don't think I emphasised the importance of knowing the seller enough. Knowing who you are buying off is of critical importance and as such you should try your best to find out as much as you can on them.
Step Three: Response to the Counter-Bid
When the seller responds, one of three things will happen. They will either offer below, at, or above what you expected. Each of these situations requires a different response.
If they offer lower than what you expected you should push harder with your bid. They are obviously selling rather cheap, so try to maximise this as much as you can. Some people instantly take the offer when the counter-offer is low. This is a mistake. You are trying to get the best deal possible, so never take the first counter-offer.
If they offer at the level that you expected then don't bid too hard. You don't want to shut down the deal. Another thing you don't want to do is to go halfway between your offer and the counter-offer. That is easily the most common thing that I see done and it is not a good idea. It is best to go find the halfway between the two offers, and then go about 10% below that halfway. If I go back to the Crimson Force, my opening bid would have been 4k. Let's say that the counter-offer was 7k. Instead of going 5.5k (halfway), I would instead bid 5k, as this is about 10% below the midway. This way, I will get myself a better deal without alienating the seller.
If the counter-offer is higher than what you expected, then you need to bid hard. Do not increase your bid too much. When most sellers counter with a high bid, they will actually go a fair amount lower than what they propose. By bidding low, the seller will know that you are not going to give up easily, and they will most likely bid lower than if you had bid high.
Well that's just about it. From this point on, just keep offering until you are happy with the price. One thing I should point out. If you are not happy with the price then don't buy. You are under no obligation whatsoever to buy, so if you don't want to then don't.