• How To Haggle In New York City

    A bargain hunter on how to negotiate prices with the best of them.

    By Hillary Chura

    It’s amazing what you can get if you just ask.

    Living in New York City, we’re unaccustomed to asking for discounts. Prices are as marked. Except when they aren’t. Sales are final. Except when they’re not. And only rubes ask a shop clerk for a better deal. Except when that’s not the case.

    My family was in North Carolina this summer when I took our 220,000-mile, 14-year-old Avalon in for an oil change and service before we drove back to New York. The dealer found $1,600 worth of problems, which all seemed legit considering that if the car were a child, it would be in high school.

    Failing to fix the frayed hoses that the mechanics pointed out probably would’ve meant a roadside visit from AAA and a few extra nights in a hotel on the drive back to NYC. And those costs add up. Though, I knew the price was fair mostly because Dad said so. And even if it weren’t, it was far cheaper than the Toyota dealership on the West Side of Manhattan.

    Now, I’m not a dealership kind of girl. Usually, Eddie from Queens fixes our car, and he’s done a fine job. But, periodically, it’s a good idea to have the specialists take a peek—especially when the dealership is in North Carolina, where labor runs $89.95 an hour, versus $115 at the dealership on Eleventh Avenue. Besides, getting our car to a dealer 20 miles away in North Carolina is more convenient than getting it across town in Manhattan.

    Still, I asked the Charlotte, NC, service manager if he offered a cash discount. Not really, he said, but he would help me out. Turns out, he shaved $100 off the total bill—more than enough to cover gasoline for the trip home.

    Maybe I just have no shame, but I’ve asked for and gotten discounts at Sleepy’s, when the king-sized mattress we wanted didn’t fit our budget. Gothic Cabinet Craft saved us a few dollars on the platform bed that went under the aforementioned mattress. And Little Wolf Cabinet Shop shaved off a few bucks on the built-ins we purchased for the living room.

    Trust me: It’s even worth asking people who you may not think would be open to negotiating. My out-of-network chiropractor took about 15% off of her charges, and another out-of-network doctor gave me a 25% discount since we’re frequent visitors. Our children’s (now former) dentist had juiced his bill by an extra $300 every time he applied laughing gas. As my son, Andy, inherited my teeth along with my dental tolerance, we’d paid an extra $1,200 by the time we were finally granted a concession of $200 per nitrous hit. (Soon thereafter we realized other dentists consider nitrox as integral to a pleasant visit as the customary trip to the toy box, so we switched to another provider entirely.) Beyond dental discounts, even our contractor worked with us to nudge the cost of the job a bit lower when we were renovating.

    The moral of the story? Either have pricey work done in North Carolina. Or buck up and ask for a discount.

    All they can do is laugh.

    And they won’t.

    Hillary Chura writes our Le$$er Parenting column where she helps New Yorkers parent for less. She lives in Manhattan with her sons and husband.

  • Calendar

    Chinese Ribbon Dance Workshop At Battery Park City Library

    Ages 4 and up are invited to the Battery Park City Library for a Chinese Ribbon Dance Workshop! Margaret Yuen,... [more]

    Family Fishing Night In Prospect Park

    Families with children ages 8 and up can cast their line in the Prospect Park pond during Family Fishing Night.... [more]

    Truth Or Dare: Honesty and the High Holy Days At West End Synagogue

    The West End Synagogue will explore the topic of honesty in Judaism during a one-hour family program entitled "Honesty and... [more]

    Little Makers: Chill Out With A Fizzy Drink At The New York Hall of Science

    Want to know the secrets behind citrus fruits? Come to the New York Hall of  Science on Friday, August 22nd... [more]

    Movie: “The Wizard of Oz” In Hudson River Park

    Come to Hudson River Park's Pier 46 on Friday, August 22nd, at 8:30pm to watch 1939's The Wizard of Oz as the sun... [more]

    Symbolic Selfies At The Children’s Museum of the Arts

    For the young artist in your life, come to the Children's Museum of the Arts on Friday, August 22nd between... [more]

    Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day At USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

    Tennis fans and otherwise will have a blast at the Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day in Flushing Meadows, Corona Park! With... [more]

    Blues BBQ At Hudson River Park

    Combine your family’s love of Blues and BBQ! Hudson River Park’s Pier 84 is hosting this scrumptious festival with America’s... [more]

    Sprinkler Day At Asphalt Green

    Get some relief from the summer heat at Asphalt Green's Sprinkler Day on Saturday, August 23rd.  Starting at 10:30 a.m., your kids... [more]

    Brighton Jubilee Festival At Brighton Beach

    Come to the annual Brighton Jubilee Festival on Sunday, August 24th to experience multiple entertainment stages, shopping booths, kiddie rides,... [more]

    NYC Volkswagen Traffic Jam At Governors Island

    If your little ones can’t get enough of cars, take them to see this classic VW show! The NYC Volkswagen Traffic... [more]

    August Hip Tot Family Day In Greenwood Park

    Greenwood Park is hosting an end-of-summer party for its monthly Hip Tot Family Day. There will be live music, crafts,... [more]

    Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs at American Museum of Natural History

    Take a walk back in time to when dinosaurs roamed the earth. In AMNH's latest exhibit, Pterosaurs: Flight in the... [more]

    Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. Exhibit At Discovery Times Square

    Suit up for the Marvel's Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. exhibit at Discovery Times Square! Visitors will be given access to "intelligence files"... [more]

    Art Adventure Mondays At The Jewish Museum

    Explore the galleries of the Jewish Museum with stories, sketching, and exciting themes each week.... [more]

    Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs at American Museum of Natural History

    Take a walk back in time to when dinosaurs roamed the earth. In AMNH's latest exhibit, Pterosaurs: Flight in the... [more]

    Blue Man Group

    This literally blue trio combines theater, art, and technology into a fascinatingly original performance that’s hard to describe. It’s recommended... [more]

    Cinderella on Broadway

    Originally produced for television in 1957 and starring an up-and-coming Julie Andrews, this Rodgers & Hammerstein musical made its Broadway... [more]

    Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs at American Museum of Natural History

    Take a walk back in time to when dinosaurs roamed the earth. In AMNH's latest exhibit, Pterosaurs: Flight in the... [more]

    Blue Man Group

    This literally blue trio combines theater, art, and technology into a fascinatingly original performance that’s hard to describe. It’s recommended... [more]

    Cinderella on Broadway

    Originally produced for television in 1957 and starring an up-and-coming Julie Andrews, this Rodgers & Hammerstein musical made its Broadway... [more]

  • Sign up here for the

    New York Family

    newsletters

    Thank you, your sign-up request was successful! Please check your e-mail inbox.
    Given email address is already subscribed, thank you!
    Please provide a valid email address.
    Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later.
  • Latest Issue
  • New York Family Guides