Haggling has its place but one should consider where and where it should apply, doing so in the wrong places can be deemed seriously offensive. Haggling should be confined to car boot sales but often is applied with antiques, ‘What’s your best price’ is the term often used. However when it becomes offensive is when real human effort has been applied to a piece, when skill has transformed the norm into something special, far more creative or useable. It’s like asking a tradesman to reduce their day rate because you don’t think they are worth it, but surely if you hold that view of them you have to question whether using their services is right for you.
I see haggling or negotiating as a very useful tool when no effort has been applied to an item or when no knowledge is used to sell something they know little about. However again it’s right we should always appreciate a good deal when we see one rather than pushing our newfound luck.
Unfortunately, there are many silly antique programmes that offer stupid prices for the sake of TV and usually even worse part-time general dealers who accept these offers made. Any fool can turn over money but making a profit is essential for any business to survive and these shows encourage people to think all dealers operate like this on the shows, how very wrong could they be! These shows lack true entrepreneurship and deeper knowledge required to make a profit regularly as a dealer and auctioneers generally don’t make great dealers, I guess that’s another topic to air at a later date.
Dealers deal with dealers where there is negotiation and mutual respect, there are many levels in the food chain with some specialists being at the top of their chosen subject. Specialists know their market, they know the true value and have a reputation to uphold, going to a specialist and asking for a discount is like going into a pub, ordering a pint, and offering to pay for a half. It’s generally safe to say in both instances the response is generally the same.
Some years ago I did a large job for a company who paid properly whilst the contract progressed and at the end of it there was a reasonable figure outstanding of approx £10,000 to settle at the end of it.
I met the client to settle the account but he saw it as a time to ‘negotiate’ our already agreed prices. This is what happened:
- I firstly asked whether he was happy with the end result and the work we carried out for him, the response was positive.
- So I passed the final invoice over the table where he examined it in detail before asking how we were going to negotiate this.
- I asked to see the invoice again to check if I had forgotten anything that could be added. Apparently, I didn’t understand, he wanted to negotiate it down.
- I asked what didn’t he want to pay for? I would take it off the bill and make sure the work was removed at once but as we already had an agreement on day work this would be chargeable as an additional extra. Apparently, I still didn’t understand, apparently, I was being difficult to negotiate with.
- Look I said, gentlemen are only deemed as such by our actions, the bill you have received is as we agreed. How would you have acted if I overcharged you? He responded by saying he wouldn’t pay it. So how is that different from you not paying your agreed bill for the works you instructed, do you think I would have done that work knowing you wouldn’t pay? Anyway, he did pay it in full but I left feeling he didn’t appreciate all the hard work done for him on a difficult 6-month project.
Now, some 2 years later after getting quotes for the next phase of his expansion, he called me up, but I refused to take on the work and reminded him of our last conversation, I wished him good luck, knowing full well the first stage wasn’t luck that ensured it worked out well for him.
Funny how things have a way of working out, a couple of months later he sent a message on my phone to call him urgently, to which I happily ignored.
A good negotiation in my eyes is one where the customer is happy with their product and one that I would be happy to provide again at the price I can confidently say it warrants.