Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Negotiations Gone Awry

I bought a Christmas tree the other day. While I enjoy haggling, I went into this situation blind. My only basis for a fair price on a tree was knowing that some friends paid $100 for a tree that was about seven feet tall the year before. So I took $100 out of the ATM and prepared to do my best. My girlfriend was waiting at the lot, the only tree lot within a few blocks of my house, and since I would be carrying the tree home, options for going elsewhere were limited. I asked the guy for prices on three trees and he said, "$75, $85 and $95." I picked the biggest one, asked if he'd knock $5 off and he said, "Sure." Then my girlfriend whispered something conspiratorial to me and said she'd "tell me later" when the tree vendor came within earshot. Walking down the sidewalk two minutes later with the tree over my shoulder, she said, "He told the last people our tree was only $80." I'm not great at negotiating, but I recognize the value of this kind of information would have held minutes earlier. I wish she had as well.

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