Most people who haggle over furniture, electronics, appliances and even doctor bills said they had snagged at least one discount in the past three years, according to a Consumer Reports survey.

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We all go out of our way to find a cheap gas station and clip coupons to shave pennies off grocery bills. But when it comes to big stuff like furniture and flat-screen TVs, most of us pay whatever the price tag says, according to ShopSmart, the shopping magazine published by Consumer Reports.

“Odds are that shoppers can save a lot more, maybe hundreds or thousands of dollars more,” says Lisa Lee Freeman, ShopSmart’s editor. “The trick is knowing how to ask for a better price.”

In a survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, the vast majority of people who haggled over furniture, electronics, appliances and even doctor bills said they had snagged at least one discount in the past three years. But in the same survey, 40 percent of respondents admitted that they rarely, if ever, even try to talk down a price.

But many retailers expect shoppers to try to negotiate, owing at least in part to the Internet, where it’s easy to research prices. And with the economy slowing, sellers should be even more eager to give shoppers a break in the months ahead.

To rack up some great discounts, ShopSmart suggests these tips:

Appliances. If the price isn’t right the first time, walk away and try again another time. Also try asking for a volume discount.

Furniture. Always ask about upcoming sales before plunking down any money. And time it right. The best opportunities are around Presidents Day and the Fourth of July, when stores make room for new merchandise. Those who can’t wait for that sofa should shop at the end of the month, when store owners are balancing their books.

Clothing. It often pays to make friends with salespeople, since it might be possible to wrangle a discount the night before a sale. Look for imperfections. It’s easier to haggle if buttons are missing.

Hotel rooms. Take advantage when the timing is right. For example, checking into a chic inn at 4 p.m. on a Wednesday when it needs warm bodies. Also try asking the front desk for a price break.

Salons and spas. Try asking for discounted services while preparing to leave. Also ask for discounts for referring customers and go during the slow season.

Cars. Research car prices online and use that information to negotiate via e-mail. Ignore the sticker price. Find out what the dealer paid and negotiate from there. Figure this out by getting the “dealer invoice price” and subtracting dealer incentives or rebates.

Contractors, doctors and other service providers. Offer to pay on the spot to get a discount. Contractors often knock off 10 percent for cash.

TVs, computers and other electronics. Use a flaw that’s not really bothersome, such as a missing box, to get a better price. Don’t shop without newspaper ads and printouts of the product information and prices offered online. Some stores may be willing to beat an online price.