Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

My Bargain-Hunting Backlash

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

My Bargain-Hunting Backlash

Article excerpt

"Is that your best price?" I mumbled, unable to look the salesman in the eye.

"Wait a minute," he said, leaving me stranded in a showroom filled with flat-screen TVs. He walked over to a computer, checked a few figures, and returned with a lower price. I told him I would talk to my husband.

"What? That's all you did?" exclaimed a friend at my local coffeehouse. "You only asked once for a better price?" So my friend, a salesman, offered me a short course on how to land a deal.

I practiced my lines:

1. "Is that your best price?"

2. "Sorry. That's still way too high."

3. "Great. Now you're in the ballpark."

4. "Almost, but I like rounded numbers."

Then you clinch the deal.

I left the coffee shop and embarked on my shopping spree. I would buy a flat-screen TV, the sole Christmas present for my family, and I would get a deal. I started at Costco, quickly deciding on a 37- inch LCD television. "We already carry the lowest price," the salesman said. I looked into his eyes, forgetting everything my friend had taught me, and said, "I'll take it."

Just then an elderly couple rounded the corner. The wife pulled me aside and whispered, "You can get it cheaper at Sears." She told me to search for the lowest online price, bring it to Sears, and start negotiating. She said she saved a bundle this way.

Please, oh please, couldn't we return to a more traditional way of shopping? Where the price on the label is the price you pay. Sure, you might ask once for a lower price - that's tradition. But this new bargaining frenzy means every purchase will be like buying a car. Note to sales-people: We consumers know there are several prices for each product, and only the very skilled among us will get the lowest. Why waste so much of our time?

And what about those of us not comfortable in the methods of bargaining? Perhaps, in this bad economy, we must hone skills we never knew we had. It's not just the growing number of unemployed who are fumbling around in their wallets for coupons. …

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