On haggling

Serious discussions on politics, religion, and the like.

On haggling

Postby jocaypa » Wed Apr 16, 2014 2:41 am

Well, i suppose this might not be seen as so by everyone, but to me, that is one hell of a controversial opinion. While i readily admit ignorance on how haggling work on the US, haggling is a big (maybe even important) part of our lives here in South America, and some of the points made there, i must admit, make no sense to me. Oh well, lets take it slowly.
Before trying to argue against a clearly well-stated opinion from one of the persons i respect the most in this world, i wanna make a few points clear, quickly and concisely.
First: People know what to and what not to haggle. Clothing from a store that doesn't takes credit cards? Sure do! Bread? Nope. Public Transportation? Never. CD's? Nearly always yes. Supermarkets? You'd probably get mocked, and then thrown off by security.
Second: Vendors know people come to haggle. This means that they offer prices they KNOW are not meant to be used as final and set in stone. Once again, for most people it is intuitive that a lot of prices are unhaggleable, like anything individually worth less than 5 coins, or brand stuff sold in the brand's own distributor, or services paid upfront, or things sold en masse, in a mostly automatic environment and generally paid with credit cards.

Now, onto the points:
1. Barely true, but true nonetheless. Even if people don't really think of haggling as a chore, but as a wheel of fortune full of rewards; some admit it gets old every once in a while. Mostly customers, because they think that prices should come "pre-haggled", but sometimes vendors too, because it gets boring and repetitive.
2. False, at least around here. An easy rule of thumb to remember around here is "If it offers discounts, you probably shouldn't haggle there", which helps differentiate businesses where you're expected to haggle, and businesses where you're not. Some might even go as far as arguing it's a perk for the businesses which do, for they let the customer believe they have input over the economic decisions, and are not simply abiding by an arbitrary price set by the sellers. (I mean, that's probably what's happening anyways, but this way at least an illusion is created)
3. Solved by choosing a place where haggling is frowned upon. In fact, creating places where haggling is encouraged and places where haggling is frowned upon helps people not bother the workers at one place with useless haggling, and lets workers know what they're getting into with customers in the other place. As for the money issue, it is true that generally haggling places offer cheaper prices and its somewhat of a gamble to plan a budget before going, but generally the budgets of the people are set over the places where haggling is disencouraged, and "savings" are made by haggling over set prices.
4. Truest of them all. You could argue that someone else could go in their place, or that they could go to the other places, or that not all vendors are discriminative of minorities/disabled people, but in the end, they do have an unfair disadvantage and it is harder (though, in no way, impossible) for them to get by.
5. Why is it true that friends don't do haggling? At the risk of sounding cliché, true friends know they don't live in a bubble where only the benefit of them two matter and nobody else is to be considered. Friends would haggle because both know they have the other's best interests in mind, but they also have their own best interests in mind, as well as other friends's best interests in mind, plus some other people's interests (maybe in a positive light, maybe in a negative light) in mind. Friends, even those who aren't true enough with each other to realize that haggling is to play no part against their friendship, are sane enough to know there are always winners and losers, and hopefully are mature enough to know that the winner is not always going to be themselves.
As for the techniques... as annoying as they might be at the beginning, an experienced haggler knows that all the miseries in your life and all the promises in the world (aside from money-related ones, i guess) won't change the haglee's (is that a word?) mind, and instead should focus on the more practical issues of the deal, like asking to get a price reduction and then asking twice more and then dropping the issue altogether.

TL;DR:
1. Haggling something with a listed pricetag is, indeed, nonsense.
2. Haggling is a method that, if done right, has an use as valid as paying without complaints a set price.
3. Haggling, like everything else, can be done in a wrong and annoying manner.
4. Sorry for the wall of text.
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Re: On haggling

Postby shorne » Wed Apr 16, 2014 3:05 am

I can almost guarantee that Tailsteak has broken his own "No Haggling" rule. To be precise, on purchasing high value items like cars and a house/home. For small value items I totally agree with all his arguments (allowing for the cultural variance highlighted by Jocaypa). But I do not believe anyone out there has purchased a car, house or similar high price item by simply accepting the first price they were told.

That said, please keep on doing what you do and writing your commentaries. I love the philosophy and discussions and almost as much as I love the comic.
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Re: On haggling

Postby RyukaTana » Wed Apr 16, 2014 3:12 am

Ellen's opinions are not necessarily Tailsteak's, a number of other characters have shown that in the past. Also, cars may be arguable, but generally houses do not have a 'listed pricetag' as such. In America, at least, prices on items like that are expected to be haggled on.
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Re: On haggling

Postby Tailsteak » Wed Apr 16, 2014 6:52 am

I can almost guarantee that Tailsteak has broken his own "No Haggling" rule. To be precise, on purchasing high value items like cars and a house/home.


Nope.

I've never bought a car, and when I moved into my apartment, they quoted me a price on rent and I took it.
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Re: On haggling

Postby MysticWav » Wed Apr 16, 2014 7:49 am

Tailsteak, I think your anti-haggling policy rests on a flawed premise: A completely knowledgeable and enlightened seller who is trying to make the minimum acceptable deal for him/herself.

Most sellers are in fact /trying/ for the maximum acceptable deal that the buyer will take. And most sellers are not all-knowing and thus don't know that hey, the potential-buyer is indeed interested in the product just not at that price. Which then lets the seller know that they have an option other than letting the product rot in a storage room if they don't think they are going to sell out at the higher price.

I agree the whole process is unpleasant and something you don't want to do seriously with friends. In a utopia, perhaps all listed prices would be fair to both parties, with no surplus produced, and all secondary demand levels known. But that's not this world. ;)
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Re: On haggling

Postby Tem » Wed Apr 16, 2014 7:54 am

Tailsteak wrote:
I can almost guarantee that Tailsteak has broken his own "No Haggling" rule. To be precise, on purchasing high value items like cars and a house/home.


Nope.

I've never bought a car, and when I moved into my apartment, they quoted me a price on rent and I took it.


And if you bought a car or house? Would you haggle in that case, or just look for one where you can afford the price that's named by the seller?


I consider it somewhat annoying that it is NOT really intuitive where you are expected to haggle. For example, I was offered a job translating a book. The publisher told me that the usual price that he pays was about 800$ per book. Now, I expected that was meant as a basis for haggling, since it's just ridiculous, but was not sure, and therefore suggested a very, very, very low price that was still higher than what he offered. I didn't get an answer.
Maybe he just looks for a cheap translator. Maybe he would have paid a man what I asked, but not a woman. Maybe I should have taken what little money he was willing to pay in order to at least have work, even though that would mean that I'd have to partly live on welfare while working full time.

Publishers should be forced to publish what they pay for translations. Per average hour of work.That way, not only would I know that I get at least the same pittance a male translator would get, but they'd have to think about how mean they want to look to the people who buy their books.
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Re: On haggling

Postby MysticWav » Wed Apr 16, 2014 8:02 am

Publishers should be forced to publish what they pay for translations. Per average hour of work.That way, not only would I know that I get at least the same pittance a male translator would get, but they'd have to think about how mean they want to look to the people who buy their books.


In the U.S. at least we have the Bureau of Labor and Statistics which tracks the average going wage for various occupations. That's what I used as my basic comparison when evaluating my initial and ongoing wages at my two jobs. If I recall correctly, you live somewhere else, though, right? Nothing analogous there?
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Re: On haggling

Postby Tem » Thu Apr 17, 2014 2:32 pm

MysticWav wrote:
Publishers should be forced to publish what they pay for translations. Per average hour of work.That way, not only would I know that I get at least the same pittance a male translator would get, but they'd have to think about how mean they want to look to the people who buy their books.


In the U.S. at least we have the Bureau of Labor and Statistics which tracks the average going wage for various occupations. That's what I used as my basic comparison when evaluating my initial and ongoing wages at my two jobs. If I recall correctly, you live somewhere else, though, right? Nothing analogous there?


I live somewhere else, yes. I know what the average wage is, but it's only an average. I have no way of knowing what the same publisher pays other people, I can only see he is not willing to pay me the minimum wage earned by the worst paid translator that contributed to the average.
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Re: On haggling

Postby shorne » Fri Apr 18, 2014 8:04 am

I have no way of knowing what the same publisher pays other people, I can only see he is not willing to pay me the minimum wage earned by the worst paid translator that contributed to the average.

Two short comments:

Firstly, this whole discussion becomes even more complicated when you add non-financial benefits to the mix. For example, I am informed that people working for the British Royal family are paid the lowest wages for their jobs in the UK. However, people fight hard for every vacancy as the prestige factor of having worked for the Royals is considered above value. In my case, I am currently earning 1/3rd the wage I was 15 years ago, mostly because I choose not to work that hard or be that stressed any more, but also I love the atmosphere of where I work.

Secondly, Tem, please, NEVER sell yourself short! You know better than anyone the skills you have, the quality of your work and the effort you put in to get where you are now. You are a marketable product and you are your own marketing department. Do you wish to market yourself as a the cheap Rolex knock-off that does anything for the least money? Or are you a precision built competitor to a Rolex? I know an IT Consultant who decided to go alone about 10 years ago. When looking at his rate to charge, he decided that he was worth at least as much as his lawyer. He also felt that if people paid a lot for his services, they would actually listen to him, whereas if he was cheap and they disagreed with him, they could ignore him. This lead him to start charging at $950- per hour (and he rarely puts in less than a 60 hour week). He now has approx half his year pre-booked and paid for every single year. Tem, market yourself for what you are worth. Don't ask what they will pay, tell them what you charge. If that publisher is only willing to pay worst wages, then they are not the employer for you. Cross them off the list and move forward.
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