Monday, 21 May 2012

Haggling.....why I don't

A haggle or two?
I love a bargain but don’t enjoy bargaining.
Perhaps I’ve not been brought up correctly or have enough financial sense.

Nevertheless I have uncommon sense – which is a good and bad thing. Good -  since it means that I approach problems from a sideways angle and bad - as it brings me into conflict with those who take the common approach to life and its challenges.

I got half a bike for half the price

Of course, people who indulge their retail desires at the top end of the market, no doubt feel that bargaining is a kind of sport. It must be great to wander into a swish luxury car dealer and try to lower those six figures on a Range Rover or Bugatti.

Also useful for real estate vendors who enjoy a spot of jousting with property prices. If there wasn’t any leeway on property nothing would ever get bought or sold!

Designing your home also entails quite a bit of larynx fatigue. Dealing with tradesmen is the way to hone your bargaining skills. Plumbers, electricians, plasterers, kitchen fitters will make you feel as if you’re at an auction as you knock down their prices.

Waterproof luxury
Perhaps the real secret of bargaining is knowing when it’s short-changing the merchant. Who cares about the merchant I hear you cry? He’s making a fortune on those mark-ups. That might be true at the luxury end of consumerism but it’s not so for small to medium –sized businesses.

Imagine you are a businessman struggling to stay afloat? Would you want to be making sales that don’t pay your overheads? Do consumers even understand that their staff work for less than average salaries with austerity measures being introduced such as the removal of tea breaks and Christmas socials?

Some businesses positively thrive on bargaining as any market trader will tell you. When you have the gift of the gab and bucketloads of confidence you can haggle to your heart’s content? But do you want to reduce a trader’s profit on a bunch of bananas or a kilo of carrots? Myself…no….I’d rather save my breath. However there are others who do.

I can see you...coming!
Empty vessels and street traders are said to make the most noise. I’m neither of those. I just like a peaceful life. When there’s leak in the bathroom pipes I call out a plumber and pay him what he asks. When I had a cracked window pane I paid the glazier what he quoted. When I needed pest control I paid them their worth.

“A labourer is worthy of his hire”, the Bible says and I agree. The Bible does not say that you negotiate yourself a good deal though I guess Jesus and his disciples weren’t in need of retail therapy.

You pay for what you get so bartering, quibbling and wrangling is not paying for someone’s worth. All the tradesmen I’ve used have provided me with efficiency and reliablilty and I recommend them to all my friends. There’s one who hasn’t and he’s certainly not going to get any more of my business or good will.

I don’t want to mull over pricing structures when there’s water pouring down into my kitchen. I want someone who fixes my problem. That doesn't mean I have to be taken advantage of.

If there was more honesty around money then we wouldn’t need all of this consulting and conferring. The problem is one of trust. We don’t trust tradesmen who pluck figures out of thin air and try to dupe us into parting with your hard-earned cash. Many of them are mavericks and conmen but many are not.

A miserly attitude prevents us from opening our purse to a humble tradesmen. We criticise and complain about the quality of work and there are times when it’s poor.
We’ve got to understand that money needs circulation. We’ve got to remember that keeping people in work is a vital part of keeping the economy ticking over. Shopping for good and services keeps the world turning though you don’t have to shop like it’s going out of fashion.

Let’s keep our bargaining muscles toned and flexible. Use it with emotional intelligence and and keep your financial cynic in check.

Be shrewd, not mean. We’re all trying to make a living and a life. Don’t rain on a small business’ parade!

Do you bargain?



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