Friday, May 15, 2009

Land of Negotiation

When it comes to markets in Asia, negotiation skills are key. I could regale you with stories (if you know me personally, I probably have) about bargaining vendors down to 10% of the original price.

For some reason, I don't mind doing this when I'm on the buying end, but I really hate it when I'm the seller. We're in the process of selling some of our things right now, and I have been hoping that I wouldn't have people try to bargain with me.

So far so good. The only strange experience was a couple who came to look at some of our furniture and started asking about things we weren't selling, "What about those lamps? Are those for sale? What about this carpet? Are you taking this? How about your kids? How much for your kids?" (Ok, I'm kidding about that, but it was heading that direction). They also tried to buy something I'd already sold by offering me $10 over the sale price. I was unmoved. If he'd offered me $50 more . . .

But today I had an older couple come pick something up for their daughter. You can count on the older Chinese Singaporeans to push their luck. When I mentioned that the IKEA shelf with plastic drawers I was selling them had a bit of wear, the woman said, "Oh, well, then could you take some off the price?" Mind you, I was asking $10. When I reminded her of that, she seemed surprised but accepting.

Turns out she was surprised because I sold her the wrong thing! Her daughter called later and arranged to have her parents come back while I was gone in the afternoon. The item she really wanted I had asked $40 for. It was originally $100, and though I only paid $40 in the As Is room at IKEA, I was including all the plastic boxes in it. But sure enough, I had to navigate some text message bargaining. After confirming the price, I sent a message to my maid encouraging her not to let the older woman try to negotiate for it.

And sure enough, Lisa told me later that the woman tried at first to only give her $10 in addition to the $10 she'd already given. Lisa was firm and said that I had asked $40. After a little more "discussion" she was able to wrangle the rest of the money out of her. I'd like to embellish the story and say that Lisa blocked her way and wrestled her to the floor, fending off the woman's husband with a spare hand, until she managed to pry the $30 out of the woman's fist. But that would be a lie. Still, thank God I have a maid who can stand up for herself. And me. Maybe I should have her handle the rest of the negotiations.


Six Wilsons said...

I love listening to your stories, and miss them (and you) so very much!!

Gina Marie said...

I miss telling you my stories! And everything else too.