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Friday, January 7, 2011

The Negotiator

The one thing you can say about the holidays is that retailers really go out of their way to sell you stuff. With a little moxey you can make some fantastic deals.

A week before Christmas, Greg and I went window shopping for furniture. We weren't in a hurry but we wanted to get a feel for current market prices since we hadn't bought anything in a while, and you know how sticker shock can put you into a coma.

Click on the picture to make it bigger.

On our last stop, we hit a high-end store that carries the style of furniture we like. It was no surprise they were running a sale. After sitting on several different sofas, I parted ways with Greg and we explored separately.

This does a couple of things. #1 Shopping separately, we can narrow down our choices to pieces we like as individuals. And #2, we're not influenced by the other person.

But it also brings about a third bonus. The salesman is forced to choose one of us to tail. Unfortunately for him, he chose Greg. Greg proceeds to tell this young man that I am a godless terror and will not be easily satisfied. (Spoken like a man with experience. LOL.)

By the time that poor salesman sees me again, he is convinced I am capable of cannibalism. 

Remarkably, Greg and I both picked the same sofas and we were ready to buy. Our intrepid salesman approaches me, since he now realizes I'm the one who has the final say and offers me a second discount.

I look over at Greg and give him a wink. With my sweetest smile, I tell the salesman that we'll buy two sofas, but he's going to have to give me his best price on both. He visits with his manager and returns with a fairly good offer, but I shook my head.

I'm sorry, says I. But xxxx is as high as I want to go. He chops a little more off--including delivery. I walk over to the furniture and inspect it again. That's when he throws in the five year warranty.

Needless to say--we shook hands.

The point of this story is that I was willing to close the deal a long time ago. But my hesitation and scrutiny made him squirm enough that he kept offering more and more.

My second great buy was a Kitchenaid mixer. Generally around 200 bucks.  But then Amazon emailed me with an even better price on the mixer. I went to the web site to read the stats and put it into my shopping cart just to keep an eye on it. 

Well, as soon as I did that, an American Express discount showed up on my page. I didn't ask why it offered such a big discount, and I didn't care. But it made the deal sweet enough to buy right then and there. Unfortunately, I had to go out that day (on that memorable furniture run) so I left the screen up, intending to come back later.

When I got back, the discount was pulled. I was angry, but Greg said, buy it. It's still a great price. I don't know about you, but even a 'great' price pales in comparison when I know there was once something better.

I emailed Amazon and asked them why they pulled the discount. The customer service rep replied within three minutes and told me if I went ahead with the order, he'd refund the difference. Not being one to trust giant conglomerates I sucked it up and took a leap of faith.

Amazon was good to its word and gave me my discount. After I added a $15 gift certificate someone had given me, it brought the price down to 99 bucks. Not bad for one of these babies.

I've always been a good negotiator. Not because I like to haggle, (I never haggle) but because I always leave the ball in the other guy's court. I don't have any qualms about walking away from a deal, and that is my ace in the hole.

Have you scored any good deals recently? Do you have any negotiating tips that have worked well for you?

By the way, it's been three weeks and Iko has been good, only getting up on the sofa once. He chose the cloth sofa for napping--which is why I chose it too. (Very comfy.) The leather sofa has that theater seating with reclining seats. Neither dog has figured out how to work the levers.

Keep your fingers crossed for me. 


Linda Leszczuk said...

I'm in the market for a sofa. Will you go shopping with me?

My money's on Tank and Iko to figure out those levers. :grin:

J.L. Johnson said...

I dislike shopping of any kind, so I don't haggle, I just go in, buy what I need and get out. If it's too expensive I go without. Usually what I want goes on sale for a reasonable price later anyway.

Linda Leszczuk said...

By the way, I like your choices, like the picture, love the thought balloon.

Dru said...

I love your new furniture and blender. I can see Iko and Tank conspiring as to that lever.

I tend to find bargains when I'm not even looking. I was looking for a hamper and saw one that I liked. I hemmed and hawed and I saw that Amazon had the same thing but it came in a pack of 3 and I only needed 2. Like you I put it in my shopping cart and I got an email with a nice discount. Basically I got 3 hampers for less than the price of one. Now that's a bargain.

How are you feeling? Is the cold all gone?

Maria Zannini said...


Ref: My money's on Tank and Iko to figure out those levers

The next thing I know you'll be sending them detailed instructions.

Ref: caption
I should've made it bigger to make it easier to read.

--and yes, I'd love to go shopping with you. :)

Maria Zannini said...

JL: I'm always surprised by how many of my friends just go in and pay sticker price.

My thinking is that everything in life is negotiable--except the moment of death.

Maria Zannini said...

Dru: It's been funny watching those boys circling the sofas like sharks.

They're stunned when the leather one pulls out into a recliner.

Ref: Amazon
That's interesting about your experience. Good or bad, Amazon has a killer marketing staff. They're going to find a way to make us buy with them.

ref: cold
Better, but I still sound like a frog. My editor says she had hers for 3 weeks! I hope I recover sooner.

Joanne said...

I'm a New England Yankee, and like to get my money's worth when spending. Much of what you said here classifies you as a Yankee too :) I rarely, rarely, pay full price for any item, either waiting for a sale, asking for discounts, anything to pay a fair rather than an inflated price.

And my $$'s on the pups quietly figuring out the mixer and brewing up their own doggie treats ...

jackie b central texas said...

Maria please come with me when we finally get around to getting new living room furniture! *BG*
My sweetie and I are the same way, you do not haggle with us and give us the price we are willing to pay and away we go... Nothing in life is something we "must" have, lots and lots of things are something we "want"!

And I am with everyone else, those boys will figure out the levers and have some fun with the mixer making doggie margaritas to kick back in the recliners to watch movies!

jackie >_<

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

$99?! Oh man, i am SUPER jealous! I want a kitchen aid mixer super bad...

Maria Zannini said...

Joanne: Well, I was raised in the north--and I could tell you stories about the deals my father-in-law would make. LOL. Now he was a negotiator.

Maria Zannini said...

Jackie: Wouldn't it be fun to shop together!

I'm afraid you're right about the boys. It's only a matter of time. Oy!

Maria Zannini said...

Sarah: Even I couldn't turn down that mixer when I saw the final price. I need all the help I can get to improve my baking skills.

Cathy in AK said...

I stink at haggling/negotiations. Can you come up if/when I need to get a new car? Dogs are welcome!

Love the furniture : )

Angelina Rain said...

That picture of Iko is so adorable. And the sofas look good, too.

I will have to take a page out of your book the next time I go shopping. I don’t know how to negotiate one bit.

Rula Sinara said...

WTG on the deals! I have this image of you walking into your house one day and finding your dogs lounging on recliners while holding beers between their paws and watching Animal Planet ;).

Maria Zannini said...

Cathy: I should write a post about how we buy our cars. Maybe I'll post it next Friday. I hate buying cars though. You just know you're going to get screwed somewhere along the way.

Granted, our last two experiences have been good ones, but that's only because we found the only honest car salesman left in the world. LOL

Maria Zannini said...

Angelina: I think the trick to negotiating is never letting the other guy know you want the item.

The more you 'want' it, the more he has you over a barrel.

Maria Zannini said...

Rula: ROTFL!

I don't know about the beer, but Tank is forbidden from watching Animal Planet. He is terrible! He's the only dog I know that recognizes other animals--regardless how big or small they are on tv.

--to be on the safe side, I might start hiding the beer. :)

Sherri said...

ROTFL @ Rula

I can SOOOOO see that too!

@ how you and Greg shop! Gonna have to try that next time the hubby and I go.

Meghan Schuessler said...

My boyfriend is much better at haggling than I am. He also enjoys shopping more than most men do =P

Maria Zannini said...

Sherri: We learned that by accident. Salespeople usually try to tag along with the person they think will give the final yay or nay.

It helps that Greg exaggerates greatly. I have never been a cannibal. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Meghan: You're lucky. Clone that guy. We need more men that like to shop.

Marianne Arkins said...

I don't have any qualms about walking away from a deal, and that is my ace in the hole.

I'm a total wuss when it comes to this -- but my husband is the master. He recently helped his sister get a new (used) vehicle, and was going to walk over $300 (on a $20,000 car). The salesperson was shocked and didn't believe him... until they stood up and walked out the door! LOL... they were chased down and the $300 was taken off the price.

I'm spineless when it comes to dealing with someone face-to-face, so I always take my DH when I shop. Online, though? You betcha.

How do you like your Kitchen Aid? I LOVE mine!!!

Cate Masters said...

Do you give lessons in negotiating? I need some! I'm terrible at it, lol. Great deals!

Maria Zannini said...

Marianne: I've been too sick to bake, but as soon as I feel better I am definitely going to try something. Maybe it'll improve my baking. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Cate: Sometimes deals just happen too. But it's nice when you can sweeten the deal too.