Negotiating for better deals: a talent learned from the recession

negotiating home repair

Hard times have made consumers more determined to negotiate and businesses more willing to make a better deal. Image: CC jazzengirly/Flickr

A positive side effect of the recession for many Americans is learning how to negotiate for better deals. Dickering on price is ingrained in many cultures, but Americans traditionally negotiate only on cars and houses. However, tough economic times have an affect on sellers as well as buyers. Businesses in home repair, car repair and even health care will forgo a few dollars to get your business.

Negotiating medical bills

When it comes to negotiating medical bills, doctors and hospitals do it all the time with insurance companies. As people lose their health insurance and are forced into lesser coverage, negotiating with patients is becoming more common. A procedure often has different rates based on whether Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance pays for it. Doctors and hospitals would much rather work with a patient than deal with a bill collector. Negotiate for a better deal directly with the doctor. Offer to pay quick cash up front. When the hospital gives a quote, make a counteroffer. It’s easy to find the going rate for medical procedures in different regions of the country online.

Negotiating auto repairs

Americans are accustomed to negotiating for a better deal with auto dealerships. So why not do the same with auto mechanics? Take a look at the auto repair estimate and ask if after market parts can be substituted for original equipment. Never give auto mechanics carte blanche. Some of the items on the estimate could be eliminated outright. Never ask questions such as “do I need a tune up” that may signal uncertainty about what repairs are required. If the car repairs aren’t an emergency, shop around for the best deal. Find an auto repair estimate database online. Always know exactly what kind of work will be done on your car before dropping it off.

Negotiating home repairs

Home repair contractors are notorious for including costly change orders that grossly inflate the original estimate. Get several bids, check references and wait until the home repair contract is signed before handing over any money. Include a budget for contingencies and unexpected problems. Each payment in the contract should rest upon a particular degree of progress made on the project. A sum equal to 15 percent of the total home repair contract should be held as a final payment that isn’t made until all the work is complete.


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