Haggling experiences

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agitating prop's picture
agitating prop
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Posts: 863
Haggling experiences

It's not part of typical American culture, but I figure if it's good enough for garage sales, it's good enough for corporate North America. Last night I negotiated the price of a one night stay, at a hotel, near the airport, in B.C. The conversation with the reservation desk went as follows:

"Hi, I'm trying to get the best rate for the evening of December 7, in the general area of the airport. Can you help me out?" This was followed by a third trimester pregnant pause. The reservations guy, literally, cleared his throat and asked if I was a business traveller. "Why yes!" I responded. "Who do you work for?" Woops, now my turn to feel awkward. "Myself", I say...Whew. The conversation went along rather nicely. The extended package with comp breakfast, cookies in the lounge, use of gym etc... was 215.00, but I got them down to 170.00 with a late check out the following day!

Never be afraid to haggle. The corporate-govt alliance of scoundrels and criminals, has ushered us into the third world, so it's time we haggled like we're in a Moroccan bazzar....in other words,  Westin Bayshore, kiss my cost cutting axe! Kiss

Have any of you out in Chris Martenson-land had similar haggling experiences?

SagerXX's picture
SagerXX
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Posts: 2240
Re: Haggling experiences

My best haggling experiences were during my backpackin'-through-Southeast-Asia tour the year following graduation from college (1988-89).  (And yes, the book [not the movie] "The Beach" is a personal favorite as it accurately describes a lot of what I experienced that year).

At first haggling was a royal pain in the derriere.  I was unfamiliar with it, I wasn't any good at it, and the merchants (all up and down the scale of transaction) didn't respect a clueless Yank who paid anything like the first quoted price.  You could feel it.  And in the end, I didn't blame them.

But I got better at it the longer I was there.  I spent a fair amount of time in Indonesia -- my fave country on that trip actually, pains me to think I wouldn't receive the same welcome now -- and made a point of learning a couple hundred words of Bahasa (hundreds of languages in Indonesia, but they use Bahasa to trade) and by the time I left, I'd graduated to Skilled Haggler Level 6.  Which meant not only did I get a reasonable deal on whatever item or service was in question, but the deal-making often led to social interaction/getting to know the merchant in question (or their family -- I had some folks actually shut their shop and "take me home" [the back room of the shop] to have tea...yes, there was a time when people would feel honored to hang out with somebody just because they were from the USA).  I actually slept overnight at one family's place and when it was time for breakfast I got to hang out with about 8 guys from the neighborhood because the head of the house made sure all his buddies came by to see that yep, his home had sheltered an American last night.  Dang.  Wish that was still true.)

My all-time Haggle Greatness was in Ubud, Bali.  I was scheduled to leave about 48 hours later, and had spent a month figuring out just what sorts of Balinese goodies I wanted to bring home with me.  I went to the market and after poking around for about an hour at various stalls, I sat down and started haggling.  A good strategy is to start haggling about something you're not actually interested in -- or about something in a category you're interested in but you start at a lower level than you're willing to go to.  Then, when they try to upsell you, you can make a bit of a stink/claim poverty/insinuate your opposite number is crazy if they think you're made of money.  And when you finally, "grudgingly" accept the up-sell, you extract a concession on something else.  

In this case, over the course of an entire afternoon, Ketut (the merchant in question) and I haggled over about a dozen items, adding and subtracting, wheedling and cajoling.  We drank a lot of tea.  (Once they know you're serious, they always send somebody to bring tea.  It makes certain you stick around and also puts their magnanimity on display.)  By the end, my man Ketut had 2 of his friends bringing stuff over from their stalls.  We had a pile of Balinese stuff (hand-carved chess/backgammon set, various other hand-carved wooden doodads [souvenirs for friends back home], monkey-demon mask, couple of gamelan cassette tapes, some batiks, etc.) and in the other pile -- well it was a figurative pile of Rupiah.  We had everything more or less worked out, when Ketut said he wanted my sunglasses -- my glacier glasses.  That meant another round of tea and an hour of back'n'forth.  Put the glasses on the pile, subtract Rupiah.  Then Ketut's son wanders in (maybe 10 years old) and he wants the sunglasses now perched on my head to replace the glacier glasses (Ketut & his guys are passing those around, trying them on, doing these hilarious "Hey lookit me I'm wearin' glacier glasses" poses).  So *those* go on the pile, and we exchange some of the stuff on their pile for nicer versions of what's already there.  More tea.  More haggle.  Sun's getting low.  Other stalls are closing up for the day.  Ketut sends his son running off home (as I find out later, to get Moms to cook up some nasi goreng for all us Big Players -- wouldn't do to have the deal go sour because of hunger pangs).  

Bear in mind, as we haggle, we go off on long tangents -- what's America like, what rock'n'roll they listen to, hey my cousin lives in San Diego, etc.  So 45 minutes can easily go by without the deal advancing materially.  Finally, Son comes back with Wife, who has a large pot of fried rice (nasi goreng) for us all to enjoy.  We've got the deal pretty much worked out (but we're pausing the mercantile biz while we scarf dinner) when I pull out the big gun -- actual American Dollars.  Not that they couldn't go down to the banks in Denpasar and buy dollars, but apart from the costs of the exchange, it was status-raising for Ketut to score some actual greenbacks (and his buddies were going to score, too, since some of the stuff on the pile in question had come from their stalls).  American dollars have never been as beautiful to me as they were in other people's eyes on that trip (most especially in China [Nov-Dec '88, six months before Tiananmen -- exchanging $ for Renminbi {illegal!} in back-alley deals with shady characters who offered a much more congenial exchange rate than the state-sponsored banks]).  Their eyes would literally light up.  Shame to think that's all going the way of the dodo (eventually).

The sun sets, we finalize our deal, picking the last grains of rice out of the bowls.  To prove what great pals we are now, we all (minus Ketut's wife and his son [he was disappointed he didn't get to come, but had his new sunglasses to mollify him]) head to the nearest bar (same in English & Bahasa!) to have beers and celebrate.  It was an awesome day/evening.  My one regret is not getting a photo of me and Ketut (w/him wearing what used to be my glacier glasses -- homeboy wouldn't take 'em off even when it got completely dark out).

So -- apart from my long-winded story, what's my take-away?  That in a future barter-esque economy, should such materialize, we'll see the social and the mercantile blend, IMO.  After all, we'll need trust in an economy that doesn't necessarily offer warranties or have a Better Busines Bureau or online reviews to vouch for vendors.  And if I get my way, things will happen more slowly, and we'll mix business and social interaction because life is just more pleasurable that way.  

Thanks for the thread, ao, I haven't thought of that story in ages...

Viva -- Sager

aggrivated's picture
aggrivated
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Posts: 544
Re: Haggling experiences

As a reformed ex purchasing agent I learned that the system American sellers understand best is 'competition'.  My haggling routine for hotels is to find the cheapest rate within 1-2 miles of where I want to stay and use that as a leverage to get a better price at where I want to stay.  One regular hotel where I have "frequent sleeper points' wouldn't budge the first time I tried, so I bailed out and booked with the competition.  One week later the place I wanted had lowered their rates to match so I went back to them.  This is a form of haggling with the speak softly, carry the big stick approach of ole Teddy the bear Roosevelt.

agitating prop's picture
agitating prop
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Posts: 863
Re: Haggling experiences

Sager,  I am humbled by your shrewd maneuvering. And here I thought I was ready to graduate to creeping through crowds, picking pockets, or faking a serious injury and begging!  You have me so out classed, or out under classed...or something. Don't quite know what term to use! Wink

agitating prop's picture
agitating prop
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: May 28 2009
Posts: 863
Re: Haggling experiences

 

"In this case, over the course of an entire afternoon, Ketut (the merchant in question) and I haggled over about a dozen items, adding and subtracting, wheedling and cajoling.  We drank a lot of tea.  (Once they know you're serious, they always send somebody to bring tea.  It makes certain you stick around and also puts their magnanimity on display." --Sager

I went shopping at this upper end trinckety jewelry type place with my sister, a couple of years ago.  The proprietor asked us if we'd like a glass of wine, while we were looking around. Wow, that was just so giving and hospitable, I figured! An hour later, laden down with gift purchases extending to the year 2015, my sister and I staggered out of there.  Very generous, or generush, of her, huh?  Hiccup...Laughing

SagerXX's picture
SagerXX
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 11 2009
Posts: 2240
Re: Haggling experiences

Clearly, I merely have you outglassed.  If you keep enough pairs of glacier glasses and other funky eyewear on hand, when SHTF you'll be totally set to barter/haggle your way to Post-Collapse GREATNESS!

Viva -- Sager

agitating prop's picture
agitating prop
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: May 28 2009
Posts: 863
Re: Haggling experiences

Sager, YOU are a gas! And...as it turns out, I think I found the origin of that expression! The British upper class, at one time, threw laughing gas parties, where the revelers inhaled nitrous oxide. So safe to say, I feel both out classed AND out gassed! Nitrous oxide has so many applications. It's kind of astonishing. You can run your car or your personality on it. Seems to be a bit like ecstacy, by it's description.  I really wonder if this gas might come in handy in a post peak  future, if so it would be a great investment opportunity. Shareholders would be laughing all the way to their brokers!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitrous_oxide

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