Do You Think Of Yourself As A Good Negotiator?

salesmanI don’t. Not really. Oh, I’ve had a few small victories along the way, but generally lose interest and run out of steam early in the process. Ya know? I go into it vowing to hold my own, and at some point just say fukkit and start signing papers. Life is too short to waste an entire Saturday afternoon doing battle with a mustachioed 4-weddings asshole at Vic Tayback Subaru or whatever.

That is, of course, unless the guy truly rubs me the wrong way. If he’s halfway decent, and friendly, I’m open to compromise. But if I sense there are shenanigans afoot, and my intelligence is being insulted, I’ll walk. I’ve done it many times, and it feels good. I’ve had shocked and panicked salesmen chase me across parking lots, and that feels REALLY good.

But, generally speaking, I suspect I get bent over the proverbial divan.

On Saturday, for instance, I had to buy new tires. Toney and I called around to several places, trying to get the best possible price for a mid-range set. We zeroed in on what felt like the best deal. But… when I went to the shop to actually buy them, everything had changed.

The dude gave me a big song and dance about how he didn’t realize this, and was out of stock on that, etc. Bottom line: the price was $150 more than what we’d discussed.

I bid the gentleman a good day, with a jaunty tip o’ the cap, and left his place of business. My shenanigans meter was spiking. And as I was folding my bulk into the little gray car, I saw him walking toward me at an accelerated clip. Huh, I thought. Wonder what flavor of bullshit he’s going to serve up, now?

“I think I can do something for you,” he said. “It’s against the rules, and I could get into trouble, but I’d like to help you out.”

“Something suddenly occurred to you, as I’m getting ready to leave? That’s interesting,” I answered.

He supposedly matched the internet price, or some such lie, and threw in a gold-plated warranty that gives me 100% replacement rights for 50,000 miles. Final price: $70 more than we’d originally discussed, but $80 less than what he’d quoted earlier in the day.

So, does that count as good negotiating? I don’t think so. He gave me a price over the phone, to get me into the shop, and ended up squeezing an extra $70 out of the deal. It feels like I was taken to the divan again.

My greatest success — in my mind, anyway — was when I took the job that moved us from California to Pennsylvania. I had many spies inside that company, and knew they were under immense pressure to get a person in place, here in Scranhattan. They’d dragged their feet, like all big companies do, and the executives were barking.

Through my vast network of liars and backstabbers, I also knew I was the only person they’d interviewed. They were going to offer it to me, if for no other reason than they didn’t have time to go back into the interview process.

So, when the offer came across… I asked for a lot more. Not only in salary, but unusual stuff too — like a copy of every DVD the company releases while I’m employed there. It translated into hundreds of discs, including expensive box sets, and the like.

I also wanted a team of people to come to our house in California, box up all our shit, load it onto a truck, and do the opposite on the other end.

It only took them an hour to agree to every one of my demands. I know I could’ve gotten a lot more, but didn’t want to be completely unfair about it. I still had to work for those people, after all. But it pays to have insider information, it really does.

What about you? Are you a good negotiator? I’d give myself a 6 out of 10. Maybe a 5. I’m not a complete pushover, but not exactly Donald Trump, either. How would you assess your negotiating skills? And what were your greatest victories, and/or worst defeats? Tell us about ’em in the comments section.

And I’ll see you guys again soon.

Have a great day!

Buy yourself something cool at Amazon! It’s the American way.


  1. Hey-oh!

  2. Negotiating? As an F & I manager at a car dealership, I pretty much have to everyday.
    It’s funny though; the customers will spend hours haggling for a deal, but when they get to my office, they rarely question the prices of my products (warranties, GAP insurance, etc.).
    Occasionally I’ll discount a price to get the business, but it really doesn’t happen that often.

    • I have never purchased an extended warranty, GAP insurance, or anything else. I am amazed people actually buy it.

      I had a dealership try to add a warranty to the contract without telling me about it. (Oh, sir, this only raises your monthly payment a few dollars!). I left the deal on the table and haven’t returned since. They are probably still holding my car. Heh!

      • Non-disclosure on a retail contract is so highly illegal (at least in PA), but yet dealers do it all the time.
        Gives the good guys are bad reputation. Not all of us are out there to screw someone over.

  3. Recently put four tires on my truck. Did the same thing – called around and got the best price. No extra shenanigans with the deal, but had to go back several times for them to fix the valve stems they relentlessly broke. Still need to go back a 6th time, just haven’t been able to get around to it yet.

    Recently I had to rent a car, something I haven’t done in 10 years. I got the deal online, but when I showed up at the counter I was besieged by a plethora of options and/or upgrades never before mentioned. Finally, exasperated, I sad, “Just give me the basic rental.” Turns out, the “basic” was also the name of an upgrade option. Finally, I had to say, “No upgrades, no options!” Ridiculous as it was, when I returned the car I paid what I originally signed up for.

    I suspect (or is it expect?) to get screwed over any time I negotiate. Whether I really do or not doesn’t matter, nor do I want to know.

  4. Kinda have to be in my gig which I think it only strengthens my home life when it comes down to it. But, I’m more likely to be anal about a purchase that I know will require haggling by doing the research online first. That way I already know how much I’m gonna get fucked or how muck fucking I’m gonna give. So by research, I settle on what I think is a good avg price for something and just go to the nearest business and buy it. That way I don’t need to deal with the bullshit. I just walk in and say, I’ll take it. Which of course pisses my wife off, becasue she’ll haggle with an old lady over a dime at yard sale.

    • My wife is the better negotiator between the two of us. She thinks nothing of insulting someone with an incredibly low offer. I don’t have the patience, and I don’t want to look cheap.

      Speaking of garage sales, we had one and at 4:00 the Indians come around and bottom feed. The guy was trying to get something that was marked 50 cents for a quarter because it had a chip. I said, “Let me see that” and dropped it on the sidewalk and said, “It’s not for sale.”

  5. Just saw my department’s budget for salaries and benefits, and I think I negotiated the short end of this stick. Big failure.

  6. The last few cars I’ve bought I just sent an email specifying exactly what I want to all the dealers I’d be prepared to drive to to pick up the car, told them I’ve emailed the same spec to 10-12 other dealers, best price emailed back within 48hrs gets the sale. Seems to work very well. I know with the last car I never spoke to the salesbot until went to get the car.

    I look forward to the day I can just order the car I want direct from the manufacturer and it’s delivered on a flatbed to my house.

  7. I suck at negotiating, but yesterday, after getting pulled over by a State Trooper, I had to pull the old “my sister is an officer” spiel. Hated like hell to have to do it – hated it even more when the trooper asked me to call her. Then State Trooper and Sister had a good laugh at my expense but at least I didn’t get a ticket.

  8. My job is all negotiating deals… I like to think I’m pretty good, but most of the deals are subject to confidentiality agreements… Personally I’m less inclined to be a tough negotiator. I just bought a car last month that was listed on the internet at one price that I felt was too high and when I called and talked to my dealer (my regular guy) he said it was priced $10k lower than the internet price I saw so I said “Deal!” Right off the bat. No negotiating needed.

  9. I walk out all the time when I’m told one thing and then it gets changed or I sense someone is fucking with me . Got my wife a new phone a few months ago and when unexplained charges showed up on the online bill the next day we took it back and put her back on her five year old non-data phone. Verizon had a 7 day no questions asked return policy, no stocking fee, zero cost. When she asked why, I took a line from Seinfeld and told the woman “spite”.

  10. For car buying, I take Limey’s approach. The current car had two identical bids, so I went with the stealership nearer to my house of the two.

    I consider myself a shitty negotiator. On the other hand – when my boss quit his job, we kept in touch. A couple of years later, he said “By the way, thank you.” I asked what for, and he said that when I was hired the entire department, including him, got nice raises. Because a boss ought to make more than his underlings, right?

  11. I just put 4 new tires on my car and went to Sams Club. Decent price, no B.S.

  12. Last time I got tires, it was from an outfit called Tire Van. The price was about the same as Tire Rack type places, but the big thing is: they come to your work (or house or whatever) and install the tires right there. Their truck has all the mounting and balancing machines, compressors etc. Quick and very convenient, and excellent work.

  13. Vic Tayback Subaru! I like Bela Oxmyx, but I’d never buy a car from him.

  14. Never negotiate with a hooker or a drug dealer. You’ll get fucked by one but not by the other.

  15. Stuart from Oz says

    I’m always negotiating with my wife. We went out to buy a vacuum cleaner a few weeks ago. I wanted a Dyson, she wanted a Bosch. So we compromised and got a Bosch! I’m a push over!

  16. I’m a good negotiator. My husband hates it so he always lets me do it. He would literally walk into a dealership, say, “I want that one” and sign whatever paperwork is put in front of him. Car salesmen assume that I’m this sweet girl with a cute little accent and a nice smile and they immediately try to extract an extra ten grand from me. They don’t know, however, that I negotiate multimillion dollar deals for a living and I will bend them over before I walk out the door.

    I always go into a car dealership (or wherever) knowing exactly what I’m willing to pay. I let the salesman do his spiel, then I give him a number. He, of course, acts like I just kicked him in the nuts and asked for his first born before shooting me back some bullshit number. I might do that a couple of times before giving him my actual number, but once I’m there — it’s done. I don’t fuck around. I’ve walked out multiple times at dealerships. Meanwhile, my husband is pretend driving on the lot in his new Saab. He always gives me the same sad look when I tell him we’re leaving. I’m not sure which is more pathetic, his look of losing his car or the salesman’s after I tell him thanks, but no thanks.

  17. secondary control says

    Yeah…I wanted to get in the pants of a USN recruiter’s secretary.

    I ended up in the navy for 6 years. 🙁

  18. the Divan… lol

  19. Steve from Ohio says

    This blog or whatever rules. Somebody gets it. Amazing.

    I over negotiated once. I was important at my old job and I lovd it. But I was salary and worked 60 hours a week minimum. I was approached by a sub contractor that we had hired to apply for a job with a company his wife had started. I did, got the job and before I knew I got it my current boss knew. She met me in the parking lot the next day wanting to know what I wanted. I had to work one weekend day a week and nights every other week. That was off the table and I knew it. It’s why I was leaving though and nothing could change it. Other then the schedule I sound like the guys in Airheads. You know, football helmet of cottage cheese naked picture of the golden girls lady. I wanted a huge raise, they needed to pay for my masters, two more weeks vacation, on and on. She said deal. Right there in the parking lot. We negotiated on the parking lot. It wasn’t real though because I was gone. I looked like an asshole when I had to reject the offer which was everything I asked for.