Telecom News

Bargaining in Switzerland: Survey

August 28, 2019 - Benjamin Manz

A representative survey of Swiss bargaining habits by independent online comparison service sheds light on how residents of Switzerland negotiate better deals. The results show that Swiss are loath to negotiate prices. Women negotiate much less frequently than men.

Do Swiss have good bargaining skills? To answer that question, asked 1500 residents how often they bargain for better deals when purchasing different kinds of goods and services.

The survey’s results show that bargaining is not popular in Switzerland – even in the case of services the prices of which are clearly negotiable. “While bargaining for better deals is considered the smart thing to do in many countries, Swiss generally shy away from negotiating prices,” states CEO Benjamin Manz. This general lack of willingness to bargain facilitates Switzerland’s high-price regime.

Regions, gender and age all influence willingness to bargain. German-speaking Swiss are more likely to bargain than French-speaking Swiss, men are more likely to bargain than women. Urban residents are more likely to bargain than rural residents and young adults are more likely to bargain than older adults.

When are Swiss most likely to bargain?

Residents of Switzerland are most likely to bargain when buying a car from car dealerships. A relatively high 22% of consumers either regularly, frequently or always bargain when by a car. Only 32% of consumers never bargain when buying a car. Getting a mortgage is another point on which consumers are likely to bargain, with 21% bargaining at least regularly when mortgaging a home. 16% bargain with craftsmen, 16% bargain when getting personal loans, 13% bargain when getting insurance, 12% bargain when getting Internet plans, 11% bargain with taxi drivers and the same percentage of consumers bargain when getting mobile plans. Note that these are the percentages of survey participants who use each of these services and not the total number of survey participants.

Only 8% bargain at least regularly when booking hotel stays, buying furniture, buying electronics, renting a home or opening a bank account. Only 7% bargain at restaurants, grocery stores, clothing stores and jewelry stores. Only 6% bargain at least regularly at Migros, Coop, shoe shops or hair dressers. Only 5% bargain at bars or with doctors.  

Services which are negotiable

There are certain types of purchases for which bargaining is hardly an option. Shopping at standardized supermarkets like Migros and Coop, using the services of a doctor and visiting Swiss bars and restaurants are some examples. However, there are many kinds of purchases which are negotiable. It is possible to negotiate better deals at many electronics, clothing and shoe retailers, as spot checks by have shown. Still, very few consumers regularly bargain for better deals when making these purchases.

One reason for this is that many consumers do not understand that prices are negotiable: “Many residents are not aware of the fact that it is actually possible to negotiate with Swiss merchants,” says analyst Silvan Wehrli. But unwillingness to bargain is also a cultural phenomenon. “Many Swiss are somewhat reserved, and this holds true for commercial negotiations as well.”

Negotiating mortgages saves big money

A high 31% of mortgagors never negotiate mortgages. Of those that do, 16% rarely negotiate mortgages, 17% sometimes negotiate, 10% negotiate regularly, 4% frequently and 8% always negotiate mortgages. Although mortgages are one of the transactions which consumers are most likely to negotiate, the bargaining figures are still very low. Bargaining is particularly relevant to mortgages because even a small discount can save the mortgagor tens of thousands of Swiss francs. “The majority of mortgage lenders have negotiable interest rates,” states Benjamin Manz. Presenting better offers from competing lenders is one example of a bargaining tool which can be used in negotiating better mortgage deals.

Mobile and Internet plans: Bargaining is possible

Many telecom service providers are open to negotiating the prices of mobile plans and Internet plans – a fact that most consumers are not aware of. That is evidenced by the fact that 52% of consumers never bargain when buying Internet plans, 17% rarely negotiate, 14% sometimes negotiate, 6% regularly negotiate, 3% frequently negotiate and 3% always negotiate for better deals. The figures are similar for mobile plans: 52% never negotiate, 20% rarely negotiate, 13% sometimes negotiate, 6% regularly negotiate, 2% frequently negotiate and 3% always negotiate. “It is generally worth trying to negotiate prices for telecom services. That is particularly true for long-time customers,” says Silvan Wehrli.

Bargaining is less popular in French-speaking Switzerland

French-speaking Swiss are generally less likely to negotiate prices when making purchases. For example, only 10% of residents of French-speaking Switzerland at least regularly negotiate when buying cars, compared to 28% in German-speaking Switzerland. That makes French-speaking Swiss almost 3 times less likely to bargain when buying a car. Mobile and Internet plans are the exception to this rule, with a higher percentage of consumers in French-speaking Switzerland negotiating telecom plans than in German-speaking Switzerland.

Men are more likely to negotiate than women

Differences in the bargaining habits of men and women are even more significant. Women are less likely to negotiate prices than men, with men being at least twice as likely to negotiate many kinds of purchases than women. Only 10% of women at least regularly negotiate prices, compared to 22% of men.

Older adults are less likely to negotiate

Adults between the ages of 50 and 74 years old are generally less likely to bargain for better deals than younger adults. For example, 18% of adults between the ages of 18 and 25 years old at least regularly bargain with taxi drivers, compared to 13% of adults aged 26 to 49 and just 5% of adults aged 50 to 74.

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Expert Benjamin Manz
Benjamin Manz is CEO of and an independent expert on banking and finance.