12 May 2014

After 10 years, countless beers, and busted straights, I decided the time had come. My bowling cards, now too sticky to shuffle and too mismatched to maintain, needed replacing. Naturally my first thought was Amazon.com, but the only budget-friendly decks they had were generic and as much as it may surprise you: people will cheat at cards. Then I remembered I live in a tourist town riddled with beach shops carrying tchotchkes of all shapes and sizes. Surely in one of the myriad of markets might I find Miami playing cards. Shortly into my hunt, while still establishing a baseline, I realized I haven’t haggled for anything in a loooong time. 

The first few stores offered really lame decks priced 3 for $12. Further up the beach I found a shop where they were 3 for $10, another asking 8 bucks a pack, several sporting no cards of any kind, and one with a shop worker that insisted postcards would make a suitable substitute. That made me laugh, and I was just about to give up and settle for 10 bucks worth of state of Florida, chinese menu-looking, poker cards when I remembered there was a store that’s “going out of business” on the next block up. If anyone’s gonna let me negotiate, it’s them right? I mean how else can they keep up the charade of “everything must go?”

Inside I find south beach cards - much cooler than generic Florida - priced $2.99 each. As I spun the stand about searching for the third deck for the set, the lady came by to see if I needed help. Armed with an elaborate story, no clear motive to steal, and a captive audience, this was my opportunity! I explained to her that I was going bowling later and needed new cards to play poker. This confused her; my plan was shaping up perfectly. I then asked how much if I bought three decks. Is there a discount? “Yes,” she replied proudly, “they are three for ten.” “That’s worse!” I laughed as I started to get louder to casually involve the other employee, “I mean I don’t *need* 3 decks, but if you cut me a deal I’ll get a third.” “Well, they’re three for ten,” she insisted. “Sweetheart, that’s worse … “ <blank stare> “ … at sticker price they’re 3 for $9, why would I pay 10? Can you do three for 8?” Realizing her error, she laughed but refused to take a position on the matter so she directed me to the counter lady who was now well acquainted with both my story and the math.

At the register I go, “so the lady said to ask you about knocking a dollar off the cards … can you throw a local a bone … give them to me for 8 bucks?” Averting her eyes, she laughed it off. “No I’m serious, can I get a dollar discount?” I may have even said please as I stared her in the eye. Still giggling uncomfortably she tells me she can give them to me for 2.50 a pack.I win.I don’t know if it was the eye contact that made her nervous or if she was just generally bad at math, but the day made me wonder what goes thru the other parties mind during negotiations. I’m generally pretty firm in my offers. Maybe because I knew I would have happily paid 9 bucks I came off as hyper confident; I had nothing to lose. Maybe because I negotiate for sport and my lust for the win allows me to distract them with a Cheshire grin. But my money’s on the fact that most people are just out of practice, and the surprise of being thrust into a game they weren’t prepared to play, tips the scale in my favor.

So this week, haggle for sport. Go to some store off the beaten path and try to finagle yourself a discount, and see how you fare. When you exercise your negotiating skills as the buyer, you’ll be better prepared to preserve percentage points in your own deals.

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Last modified on Thursday, 08 January 2015 20:04
Erin Wilson

I find great amusement in everyday absurdities and am constantly surprised by how my bar-ventures, my travels, and even my food-qusitions relate to the shenanigans that is software sales. I am grateful for the opportunity to leverage the Sapient Salesman as an outlet to share with you my follies, and I hope you can enjoy the schadenfreude.

Website: ebullienterin.com/

Erin Wilson is the author and publisher of the Sapient Salesman

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