October 16, 2013

"I used to believe that negotiating was insulting... Americans believe it's cheap to haggle."

"Rather than feeling shame, I'm learning that seeking a fair, ethical price might actually feel good."

31 comments:

rhhardin said...

Japan renegotiates contracts that one side finds itself unhappy with.

The idea is that both sides have to come out ahead.

It's not a failure if you can't come to a price. It's a success. There's no price where both sides come out ahead.

Obama has been arranging that throughout the economy, so that it's seldom that both sides can come out ahead and business stops.

Matthew Sablan said...

My dad explained that haggling with certain merchants means you think that they are screwing you on the initial price, and is an insult.

Even if they really ARE screwing you on the initial price.

It just matters on finding whether it is socially acceptable to haggle. At, say, a retail store, you've got less wiggle room than a flea market.

Matthew Sablan said...

Also, perishables are good to negotiate over (like the pastries in the article.) Something is better than nothing for the merchant, but they can probably wholesale it at the end of the day, so you have to at least go a bit more than break even for them.

El Pollo Raylan said...

The Italians call most any shop or store un negozio. I'm told that most women love to shop, or negotiate, so this individual's opinion doesn't surprise me.

I am surprised that our President refuses to shop.

El Pollo Raylan said...

I recently helped a neighbor take a truckload of household stuff to gigantic outdoor swap meet (flea market) here in Oceanside and to sell it. The market is a favorite of the local Latino population. Let me tell you people, those people love to negotiate and it helps to know un poco de espaƱol--especially the numbers. It's the future!

MadisonMan said...

The important thing is to not really want the item. And that the seller knows this and that you *will* walk away.

Retail prices are for suckers.

traditionalguy said...

Adam Smith rides again. The faith in free markets is the opposite force to Fixed Legal Monopoly so beloved by our new King Obama who grants them to his cronies ASAP.

Broomhandle said...

MadisonMan said...
The important thing is to not really want the item. And that the seller knows this and that you *will* walk away.

This. And knowing the market. And (not the same thing)knowing what the popular perception of the market is.


Kelly said...

My husband is a pro at haggling. Once in Mexico he made me go stand outside the shop because I was out bidding him. No lie. I'm always embarrassed at doing it. He got a really cool hand carved chest set in Aghanastan. It took him six months. Some days he'd walk by the stand without even looking, some days he'd stop and browse, make his offer and walk away. Finally he wore the guy down and got what he wanted for it.

lemondog said...

The marketplace haggles.

If a price is too high, people stop buying and go elsewhere.

Merchant either adjusts the price and/or offers an incentive, or goes out of business.

FleetUSA said...

Everything is negotiable. Our Prez never negotiated anything in his life...it was always given to him.

Larry J said...

My wife is a Filipina. Haggling is part of their culture and she's good at it. A lot of merchants are surprised when she tried to haggle but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

tim maguire said...

Dishonesty is fundamental to haggling. The price is set deliberately high to take advantage of the sucker. The offer is set deliberately low to take advantage of the desperate seller.

Nobody tells the truth and each is trying to cheat the other. The better liar/cheater wins.

Peter said...


The important thing is to not really want the item.

There are many books on negotiating, and many methods that may be to one's advantage.

For a big-ticket item, one method is to get a commissioned salesperson to invest significant time in you. You lose some of that "I don't really care" leverage (even if you mention comparables you're looking at), but after that salesperson has invested significant time in the deal most will be really motivated to at least get something for their time (instead of the big fat nothing they'll get if there's no sale).

And then there's the whole territory of "price anchors," in that negotiations often move up or down from the first price that was mentioned- if possible, you want to be the one to set that price anchor.

Of course, one must always be willing to walk away.

BUT I don't much care for haggling to become the norm even for small purchases, because that is too much of a burden for small transactions. Imagine how much time and effort it would cost to haggle the price of every item in your supermarket cart!

Michael said...

It never hurts to politely ask if the price quoted is the best the seller can do. You can only be surprised on the upside.

John McCrarey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John McCrarey said...

It's really a cultural thing. In Korea it's expected for the merchant and customer to haggle. It's almost ritualistic they way they do it. My (Korean)wife was shopping for for shoes and found a pair she liked. They went back and forth for awhile in the native tongue and finally my wife said "let's go!" and started walking away. I knew she wanted the shoes, so I asked what happened? The shoes were the equivalent of $80 and she offered $60. The merchant countered with $70. So, I jumped in and said how about $65? He accepted and my wife was pissed telling me he would have taken $60 before she walked out of the store. Ah well.

She has tried to bargain here in the USA without much success, although she did get us a discount on a mattress set. I've learned to stay out of these negotiations.

gadfly said...

There are, of course, the other rules that influence the degree of haggling. Automobile salespeople, whose income is dependent upon commissions, start all "deal" offerings far above the market price of the vehicle in question - and offer after counteroffer drags on and on over days sometimes. However, the new world of internet car buying has shortened this process considerably.

Examples of non-haggling go first to the health care industry, where insurance contracts are designed to guarantee certain income levels for providers while keeping patients out of the pricing considerations altogether.

My point is that haggling is relative to established pricing rules. Nobody can get the the price of a can of Campbell's tomato soup reduced to a price below the amount programmed into the check-out scanner - but anyone who wants to play the couponing game can likely find a scrip that lowers the soup price.

Sigivald said...

"Rather than feeling shame, I'm learning that seeking a fair, ethical price might actually feel good."

Taking an offered price as-is is fair and ethical, too.

And reduces transaction costs considerably over haggling; my time and effort are worth a lot more to me than a small discount on some random thing.

(Turns out, in fact, that any mutually agreed price without coercion is fair and ethical.)

SJL said...

Henry David Thoreau said, "you cannot sell anything to a satisfied man".

Ann Althouse said...

Another reason not to travel!

Or at least, don't buy crap when you travel.

Or just don't buy crap.

Is that American... or un-American?

SJL said...

My other favorite quote is Thomas Jefferson saying, "The most truthful thing in the newspaper is the advertisement."

n.n said...

I hate to negotiate. I find that moderating my consumption is more likely to engender peace of mind.

Amy said...

My take is - if the difference in price is negligible TO YOU, but SIGNIFICANT to the other person (i.e. in many of the countries named above), just STFU and pay it.
I remember once in Jamaica, in the market haggling over some piece of crap that was a gift for someone, the difference was $1 Jamaican, which was $.025 American at the time. I hated the whole experience - who argues over a QUARTER?

Julie C said...

I learned to haggle while in the Peace Corps. Where I was in Africa, it was expected that you would haggle over the price. It was fun, to be honest. I did the walk away thing a few times and always had the merchant run after me. In a country without reliable electricity, I guess you find your entertainment in different ways.

In the US, I think the widespread use of credit cards has made haggling more difficult. Walking into a store (non-chain) with cash seems to make a difference, when the merchant knows they will not have to pay the credit card processing fee.

Almost Ali said...

my time and effort are worth a lot more to me than a small discount on some random thing.

Actually, you'd be amazed how much money a few seconds of haggling will save you - especially over a lifetime. Because that's all it takes, a few second here, a few seconds there, and soon you're "earning" more money per hour than than a good lawyer.

A furniture store is asking $1,000 for a particular couch. You offer $800. You settle on $900.

Now, how long did it take to "earn" that hundred dollars? Moral: things, merchandise, grow on trees, buyers don't.

MadisonMan said...

I hated the whole experience - who argues over a QUARTER?

Do you have children? (laugh)

El Pollo Raylan said...

Ann Althouse said...
Another reason not to travel!

Ah, the travails of travel.

Rusty said...

The definition of a good deal is when both parties walk away with what they want.

madAsHell said...

Henry David Thoreau said, "you cannot sell anything to a satisfied man".

Did Mr. Thoreau have anything to say about women?

rcocean said...

An old time American value was that greed was bad and that love of money as shown by haggling and cheapness was "bad form". Only lesser breeds "haggled".

Now in new America 2.0 its now a good thing. Maybe, its certainly more honest.