Negotiating- we should all be better at it
Negotiating is not something I have ever been good at. Throughout life I find myself asking what the prices is and then either paying it or not. There was never any thought of haggling. It felt strange. Petty. If I liked the thing or service, I paid for it. I felt fortunate to have a nice income and help support someone else’s life.
Still I wonder what I have been missing by not negotiating. Should I be negotiating more? Will the quality of the work decrease or leave people with resentment? I don’t think it will cause either of these. It is fine to ask, and you can expect the answer to be no. If it is, then you can either buy the item or walk away.
So let’s discuss the 2 times I have negotiated.
Negotiating bazaar style
One is when I am in another country where negotiating is the norm. For instance, in Turkey, at the bazaar I negotiated down the price of this beautiful backgammon board. It was a game of cat and mouse. He gave me a price. I said it was too high. He came back lower. I gave him another price. He said it was too low. So I walked out. Then he hollered for me to come back and bam! We had a deal.
It was fun and I wondered why I did not do it more. Still, when I returned to the US, those skills I had used for the last 10 days faded away.
Business like negotiation
The other time is when I already have a price. Often I will ask for multiple quotes (say for work on my recently leaking roof). Then I will go with the cheapest. Last week though, I had the opportunity to negotiate.
When we had moved into our home, the roof inspector noted that our solar panels were not installed correctly. He estimated it would cost $2550 for a complete repair and gutter clean. I asked for some cash from the seller and also for some cash from the solar company. I was given both, but never made a move to actually fix the issue.
As you may have heard, it has been a rainy season in California (the drought is officially over). My roof was fine. No leaks. Plus to get someone out during all the rain seemed difficult. Everyone gave an extended time frame for completion. Then the last week of the rainy season we get a leak. Right over my son’s bed. It was not a bad leak, but still a leak. So now it was time to fix it.
I obtained an emergency repair and the company came back with a quote of $2750 to fix everything plus a $325 credit from the emergency repair (that put me back $650!). So I thanked them for the quote and sent them my first estimate of $2550 (from the home inspection). I kindly asked if they could beat it. He got back to me and the new quote was $2450 plus the $325 credit. Boom, negotiating tactics done. Granted the roof still cost me $2775 to fix (emergency repair and total repair), but at least I got the price down some!
So what is the point of all of this.
It never hurts to ask. So always ask.
Here is a great post by The White Coat Investor on his experience buying a car. He did not negotiate directly like I did in Turkey, but he went in with knowledge and found the best deal.
Or you can do it like Sam at Financial Samurai did here. He got some quotes for a recent landscape gig and then went straight to the employee (not employer) to get a great deal. He also negotiated the price down! Much more like my negotiating at the bazaar in Turkey.
So what now for me?
I will start asking for deals. Particularly at local stores if I am buying multiple things. I will not ask for a deal when I am buying one item. If, however, I am buying multiple items, then it is time to at ask for a discount. It is surprising how often people are happy for your business and give you a discount.
I also am going to start negotiating contract work, much like Sam. Right now my biggest annoying expense is our gardener. We are paying way too much and in fact I enjoy mowing the lawn. So sometime in the next few months he is either going to be let go completely or at least we are going to discuss a reduced price.
What about you guys? What do you negotiate? Does it feel weird to ask for discounts?
18 thoughts on “Negotiating- we should all be better at it”
I could do a much better job at this. I’ve probably only negotiated a handful or two times in my life. Mostly at flea markets. Not sure why it’s so hard for me. I think I’ll take this on as a challenge. Thanks DDD for sharing your story.
Challenge served! Thanks for checking out the site and I look forward to hearing any successes!
We live in such a the price listed is the price that i always forget to haggle. The only times it naturally comes into play is if we don’t really need something or I’m getting a quote for something i want to do in the future. That’s when the seller starts trying to beat themselves. That’s when i usually get the good deals
It is crazy how none of us haggle. Even with quotes. That is why getting 2 or 3 quotes when I am looking for a service works best for me. I am not great with haggling otherwise.
Pretty much everything I buy these days get negotiated downward in some shape or form. It’s just become a part of my frugal ways. Even when we’re at a normal store, I’ll pull out my phone while we’re waiting in line and find a coupon – anything I can use to get a few bucks knocked off.
Getting coupons on your phone is quite brilliant. We have coupons but often forget to use them. I do often return things if we don’t use them (think Home Depot) even if it only costs $6.
Man, first sight of the pic and I was thinking of Istanbul. LOVE that place! Ever go to Domalbachi (sp?) Palace? Amazing.
Growing up eating street stalls and attending nighmarkets in Asia, we had to negotiate. Vendors always started high and it was always a challenge, and then a game to negotiate down to the very bottom.
It was surprising when I came to the States for HS that all prices were fixed. But I knew that there is always room for negotiation.
People don’t negotiate here out of customs and FEAR. A different world in Asia and parts of Eastern Europe!
I have been to Domalvachi! I always say that Istanbul is my favorite city in the world (Cambodia is my favorite country). Definitely a cultural difference between Asia and the US. It is a lot of FEAR. Fear of how you will be perceived.
Cool! Angkor Wat! Did the trip a couple years ago as a bucket list. Damn it was hot! But amazing. Where else in Cambodia did you enjoy?
I felt like the Tomb Raider. I really enjoyed Phnom Penh. People were super friendly and some of the smaller restaurants had delicious food. I had some bbq on what I believe was some guys patio. He was grilling and had a cooler full of drinks. He was so gracious and so happy for us to join him and his customers.
I was proud of my wife this weekend. We changed phone carriers trying to shave some dollars off the monthly service and the rep gave us the price.
Just by asking “Since we are activating several phones is that the best you can do?” The rep waved the activation fees. (Those are stupid anyway).
It never hurts to ask.
Sweet. That is exactly right. It never hurts to ask, but here we are…sitting around and ashamed to ask. Most of the time people will give you a discount and both sides end up happy.
While probably not as applicable to street-market negotiation, the book Getting To Yes is on my reading list. This is one of the classic books on negotiation, which is probably more applicable to corporate/business negotiations than to getting a discount on jewelry. We’ll see.
Getting to Yes is a good book and one I just donated to the library. Negotiations (as our illustrious president will tell you) are very important in business. It is probably why I did not get into business. Still in medicine we have small negotiations with patients and colleagues all the time. It may not be monetary but we are always trading services, building rapport, etc.
Wow, great job honing those negotiation skills! I get nervous with negotiations, but I make it work. I’m more skilled at negotiating salary for jobs than for things I buy. I think both skills are essential to really save money. I do this by asking my insurers and “fixed” expenses like internet for discounts. It doesn’t always work, but why the hell not try?
I think you are better off negotiating for salary. I am terrible at that. Fixed expenses are easier to negotiate down and I think the same applies for when buying in bulk! That is why when I am buying multiple of an item I will often ask for a 10% off. They may give only 5% or 0% but at least I tried.
Great post! My father in law is great at this. I’ve had a harder time overcoming the awkwardness I always feel, but usually have success when I do negotiate.
It is an awkward feeling for sure, but eventually you get over it. Most of us are okay negotiating with the cable company (can I have HBO for free?). I think that as we get used to the feeling and steps to negotiating the easier it becomes.