Post No.: 0011
$1 saved is rationally just as valuable as $1 earned. But for most people it’s far faster to save money when trying to purchase something (or often to challenge for a refund or compensation one is entitled to) than to earn money when working in one’s day job, thus it’s rational for most people to haggle (e.g. if you spend 1 minute haggling and have a 50% chance of saving $2 off an item then unless you earn at least $60/hour (after taxes) then it makes sense to haggle – not that it’d usually take more than a few seconds to try in many situations even if the odds of success are unknown). But you must be negotiating with someone who has the authority to give discounts (which can reduce the number of places where haggling is feasible – but you won’t always know who has the authority or not until you ask) and you must be polite, friendly, charming and even cheeky!
Some readers from some countries will be finding it totally bizarre that people from some other countries seldom haggle – but if these readers are independent shopkeepers then they won’t mind this because these tourists are their favourite kinds of customers! Woof.
When people are socially embarrassed to haggle, it could be viewed in a couple of different ways – giving the impression that one is so rich that haggling is not necessary (conspicuous consumption), or giving the impression that one is easy pickings for businesses who don’t mind taking advantage of them. ‘If you don’t ask then you won’t earn the chance to get’ is a great tip to remember in life, and truly rich people actually do haggle anyway (for self-made businesspeople – how do you think they got rich in the first place? They became so by negotiating in order to spend as little as possible to get as much as possible, thus increasing their profits). So overall from this perspective of what (savvy self-made) rich people really do rather than the perception of what they do – it’s arguably going to do less for your reputation to not haggle than to try! And from a shopkeeper’s perspective, you might look like a fool to them (in private thought of course) if you don’t try too. If you’re simply worried about the process of haggling itself then the more you try it, the better you’ll get at it, so be brave for your first attempts because it’ll eventually feel natural.
So haggle everywhere you can, including on the phone with service companies – certainly with big-ticket (expensive) items or anything with recurring payments. Never accept the first price or the price on the tag – that’s just the start of the game. The worst thing they can say is “no” and in most cases you can always walk away/go elsewhere. Never feel guilty either – the vendor will never trade something with you if they’re going to lose money on the transaction (unless they feel it could be used as a loss leader, but that’s their decision) – all you’re trying to do is whittle them down to their true bottom line where they’ll still make a profit but one less than they would’ve received if they’d sold the product to you at full price (for the vendor, a little bit of profit is better than no profit at all hence it’ll still be worth it for them to sell the item to you at a discounted price, depending on the level of supply to demand for the product e.g. if they think behind you in the queue are lots of people who are willing to pay full price for all of the current stock they have left, but again that’s for them to work out. This also means for you that quiet times are typically the best for haggling). Therefore it’s still going to ultimately be a win-win situation for both you and the vendor if any transaction is agreed.
Now it’s important to note that how we behave in commercial/market contexts is not always how we should behave in personal/social contexts. In this post I have been talking about commercial/market contexts. Don’t treat your friends and family as if profit and loss is the reason why you and they hang around each other! There’s a considerable difference between e.g. a romantic partner and a prostitute(!)
Woof. Please tell us, via the Twitter comment button below, what sort of haggling culture exists in your country?