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Negotiating...

August 20th, 2007 at 10:24 pm

"Negotiating 101
Think you're a great negotiator? Chances are you do. And you're probably wrong. That means you're likely to overpay when buying a house, a car or items at a swap meet."
http://www.mercurynews.com/personalfinance/ci_6663234

An interesting article. I don't think I am a great negotiator by any means, but it amazes me how little most people I know don't even try to negotiate anything. I am a bit of a negotiator as my dad is an excellent negoitator and has taught me a bit with time. For the most part most of my negotiating was accidental. Walking away from a horrible deal or just walking away, period, it has amazed me over the years what I have been offered. Ironically most of it not much of what I wanted, but it has given me trmendous insight into the whole negotiation process:

1 - My first job out of college I chose from multiple offers at the job I wanted most. When I called to turn down one offer they kept offering me more. For my first green job it never occured to me I had any bargaining power. I will always remember that. IT pretty much never hurts to ask. Too bad I didn't want the job no mattter what - I took far lesser pay but think I had a better experience. (Plus the job I took was paying overtime which I had no idea would be so HUGE - may have come out ahead anyway. The point there is more to a job and benefits than base pay!).

2 - We walked into a timeshare presentation and when it was clear we weren't interested they tried to entice us with a 50% price drop off the bat. Were never going to buy because figured the thing in reality had a negative value, but you know people in the room were snapping time shares up at full price and our hesitation could have bought it at 1/2 price easy if we had really been interested. I am kind of curious how low they will go on our little trip in December - I hear they are asking (and people are paying) $50k. I wouldn't take the thing (for free) myself, but curious all the same how desparate they are.

3 - When we hired our gardener we were discussing prices and I saw him take this "negotiating stance." Stroking his chin, pausing to think once he did not like my original price. I had never thought that price was negotiable but I caught the "cues" and was easily able to talk him down from his first price offer. (The fact that he asked me what I would pay was probably a good cue too now that I think about it - doh). IT was just something I hadn't even thought of before we were in the situation. I also have a relative who married a Filipino man and my MIL goes on and on and on how he gets discounts on everything. I try to keep that in mind whenever we have anyone come out to our house for any work. Usually price is negotiable but few ask. Watch and learn from the masters (for him it is just a cultural thing. But the only thing he really does that others don't do is simply ask...).

4 - Furniture. We just refuse to buy furniture where price isn't neogitable. An interesting thing we had a while ago though was we were buying some furniture for the kids at our favorite discount warehouse and they were having a going out of business sale. they had these beautiful theatre chairs that were knocked way down from "retail" but still looked awfully pricey for our blood. But when I saw them I just had to have them - would be perfect for our barren theatre room. We were negotiating and not very happy with the results, especially when we saw a tear in the fabric that they seemed unwilling to budge on. I whispered to dh, "call his bluff - walk away." The thing is we had come to a stand still and the deal was bad. The product was flawed and at this 60% discount or whatever they were still asking a good grand. But if he was willing to come down more we would buy. HE said no, so we walked away. As we were about to walk out the door he came over and offered a $100 further discount. We said how about $300, and he said okay. That simple. It's just a big game. A big simple game. If he hadn't of given in it was way too pricey for us and we could live without (or maybe found something nice/used later) so wasn't like the be all/end all for us (which is they KEY for negotiation). Obviously they wanted to get rid of the thing and few would pay that much for a flawed piece of furniture. You just have to use common sense. They were probably counting on some big dough with the pretty shiny leather (which cerainly caught my eye) but I had the feeling one too many people had pointed out the flaws (and why it still sit in the mostly barren wherehouse).

5 - I have seen some really bad negotiating when it has come to private party car shopping and Craigslist exchanges. I always overprice my items expecting haggle, but only 1/3 (if that) ever ask. You don't know how many car sellers have told me how low they would accept for their car from the getgo. Like REALLY low prices way below asking. No point in asking for more if you are going to show all your cards at once.

I have to say I don't think we have ever walked away from anything without a better deal to be had somewhere else. I think the best rule in negotiation is there will always be something else out there. Or maybe the rule should be, the more desparate the seller, the more options you know you have... Wink But once you understand that it is a lot harder to get taken.

2 Responses to “Negotiating...”

  1. fern Says:

    You left out one really important area where you can negotiate price. Your doctor's fees!

    Now that I'm dating B., i've gained all sorts of insight into what's negotiable when you have a doctor's visit. If, for instance, you don't have health insurance, ask them upfront for a 10% discount for those who pay cash. B. often gives that discount, cus it saves him a lot of hassle with paperwork and the dreaded submissions to the health insurers, which drag things out as long as they can, or deny claims for the least little billing error.

    Also, my mother, a professional artist, often barters by exchanging artwork for dental work. My sister, an organic farmer, gives fresh produce to her chiropractor.

  2. monkeymama Says:

    I have a friend who barters for everything - good point.

    I probably forgot doctors because I pay insane insurance in order not to get billed by doctors. I never get bills, I just pay insurance and copays (knock on wood anyway). I haven't tried on my dentist because he already gives us discounts for being like his longest customers ever. But very good point. I know my kids will have big dental work down the road and if nothing else I intend to ask for cash discounts. & if we ever switch out of this particular HMO, then something to remember.

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