The Negotiator

I hate face-to-face negotiations.  So, in the past, I’ve paid full price for items that I’m sure I could have gotten for less, simply because I don’t like asking for discounts.  Recently, however, I managed to to make two rather significant purchases, and I negotiated lower prices for both of them.  Here’s how.

Purchase #1 – A new grass trimmer.

I purchased a new grass trimmer from a large retail store.  After deciding on the model that I wanted, I asked to speak to the head of the outdoor power equipment section.  (I’m not sure what his official title is, I just know he works with the outdoor power equipment.)  I told him exactly which model I wanted to purchase, and I told him that I was ready to by, that day, but that I didn’t want to pay full price.  At first, he mentioned that I could get a 10% discount, if I would only apply for a store-branded credit card.  (Click here to read about an interesting conversation I once had with a salesperson about store-branded credit cards.)  I explained to him that I had cash, and that I do not use credit cards.  I then stopped talking and just waited to see what he might say.

At first, he didn’t say anything, and then he decided to speak to his manager.  I assured him that I would wait for him to return, and he headed off to have a conversation.  A few minutes later, he returned, and offered me a 10% discount, no credit application necessary.   At this point, I almost went forward with the purchase, but I really wanted to test my negotiation skills.  So, I simply asked, “Is that the very best you can do?”  (This is an old negotiating tip, and one that many others have been using for years.  For me, this was a first.  Seriously, I do not like face-to-face negotiations.)  He found his manager again, returned, and told me that the absolute best he could do would be a 15% discount.  Not wanting to push things further, I accepted his offer, made my purchase, and now I’m  enjoying my new grass trimmer.

Now, I’m sure that some of you out there are much better at negotiating discounts than I am.  I’ll freely admit, I’m usually a pushover.  So, the 15% discount, while nothing spectacular, was pretty major for a guy like me, who usually avoids the negotiation process all together.

Purchase #2 – The Vacation

This one happened just a few minutes ago.  Last year, we found a really awesome, affordable place for our annual family vacation.  It’s on the beach, it’s secluded, and it’s perfect for our young kids.  This year, while booking our stay, I decided to see if I could get a discount.  I emailed the property manager, mentioned how much we loved our stay last year, and asked for the lowest rate she could give us for an eight-night stay.  A few hours later, she emailed back, with a total that was 10% less than what the property’s website was stating.  Again, instead of jumping on the first offer, I emailed back, and mentioned that we really loved the site, but that we wanted to be sure that we were getting the best possible rate.  A few minutes later, she emailed back, and gave us a 25% discount on the cost of renting the condo.  Not bad, I’d say, for a few clicks on the old keyboard!

There you go.  Two tales of negotiating success.   What about you?  Do you like to negotiate?  (I know lots of guys who do.  I know guys who will negotiate the price of anything!  Me?  I think I’ll save it for major purchases.)  Would you like to become a better negotiator?  With the current economic climate, do you think we’ll see more people negotiating prices?

12 thoughts on “The Negotiator

  1. My negotiations only based on ‘want’ and ‘need’. If it is a ‘need’ item for me, probably I will pay the amount mentioned or it without any bargaining. But, I never failed to check with multiple stores to know the best price for same item.

    If an item falling to the ‘want’ category, I was generally negotiating the price. I even ready to wait some more time if there is a possibility to get enough discounts.

    any thoughts?

  2. I hate asking for discounts or money (which explains why I’m terrible at fundraising, even though I love doing charity events). I’ll shop around for the best price, and that’s about as close as I’ll get to actually negotiating. I feel like if someone says a price for something (this is especially true for Craigslist) is $XX, asking them to reduce that price is implying I don’t think the item is worth that much, insulting the seller. Weird, I know. If it’s an article of clothing or something, I might ask to knock a little off, but it’s very rare.

    Funny story about negotiating in a home improvement store: my boyfriend works in the outside lawn & garden department at a home improvement chain on nights and weekends. A man came in to buy a wheelbarrow. A customer service rep goes up to him and asks if he needs any help. The customer points out a scratch on the inside of the wheelbarrow. The customer service rep says to the customer, “What are you gonna be movin’, marshmallows?”

    Moral of the story: not worth negotiating a lower price on a product with a “defect” if the product is likely to be riddled with the same “defects” after the first use!

  3. A really good way to learn negotiating is to stop at any local garage sales you pass on the weekends. Take a minute and just dig through the stuff laid out. If you find something you think would be a good addition to your belongings, then ask how much they want for it and let the negotiating begin. That’s one way to learn to be better at it.

  4. I grew up in the farmer market where my mother had a stand; she was negotiating all the time. I like doing from time to time, but my wife dooes not let me do it. She says that am taking advantage of that person. If you buy more than one, they give a discount.

  5. You can find great bargains at flea markets or local shops so be ready to negotiate. I think its a skill and test of wits.

  6. Great stories… thanks for sharing. This should inspire us all to ask for deals or special offers when we’re about to do business!

    Thanks for sharing!

  7. The toughest part is getting over that feeling of ‘looking too pushy’ or ‘being annoying’.
    You have to be shameless, actually – when are you ever going to see these people again?

  8. WTG! Although the money saved is awesome, venturing just past the edge of your comfort level that usually held you back is the best part of all!

  9. The hardest part for me is to be so assertive just to save a couple bucks. Don’t get me wrong, I do it, but then I feel bad for beating the department manager up for half an hour just to save $50 on a dishwasher or the like.

  10. Congratulations on your negotiating successes. I have found that many people find negotiating so uncomfortable they accept the first offer and end up leaving something “on the table.”

    To learn more,and get the inside track on power negotiating tips check out Beyond the Chicken Dance.

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