Sunday, June 17, 2007


I love a bargain but hate to bargain. This probably best explains why I rarely get a bargain. The problem with bargaining for me is that I never quite understood it and only on rare occasions enjoyed it. I have always found it quite absurd for two people to start at two opposing poles on the price and then chatter, annoy, cajole and browbeat the other to a reluctantly agreed one while standing in very close proximity to each other. Further, I strongly feel that whatever one charges for services or goods, it should be the cost price plus a reasonable profit on that. I do not expect the goods to be sold at cost price to me. The question then is what is reasonable and by whose definition. Since there is mutuality involved it necessarily has to be a definition the value of which is agreed to by both parties.

But for myself, I would like people to price their goods or services as professionals are supposed to, like doctors and lawyers. The price set has been considered and is supposed to reflect as accurately as possible the remuneration for the good or service rendered. There should therefore be no discount on it for to do so would be a slight on the vendor's or service providers own assessment. This is probably why if I see something I like and the price tag or quoted for it seems reasonable then I'll just buy it without feeling the need to to press it down any further. I used to be bothered by comparisons made on my purchase about how I could have gotten a better deal but these days, I say, heed to your price and me to mine. If spending another twenty minutes haggling there is what you would like as part of your purchase then by all means, indulge yourself. For myself talking out the distance between two prices in relation the object of purchase feels like a complete waste of time.

I would be a hypocrite if I claimed not to bargain at all. But frankly, the most I would do (and even that one when the passion seizes me or I'm particularly broke that month) would be to ask (sometimes half-heartedly because I feel bad enough asking) whether there was any discount and wait for their reply. If I disagree with the price, I will just walk away. Strangely, I would actually have little cause for agitation if the matter just rested there. But inevitably, the vendors in such an environment would chase or call after me belting out a whole list of numbers until one captures my attention and stops me in my tracks. I imagine this scene like an escaping calf that is finally stopped by the cowboy with the lasso of his cheap price. The annoyance stems from my detection of the attitude that the vendor takes which is basically how much can I get away with charging you for this instead of pegging a fair and reasonable price for it. So bargaining also makes this starkly clear as well. But really, which vendor or seller doesn't try to do this. I suppose, what bothers me is how blatantly they do it within the bargaining context. You can't see what the margins are in just a nicely and classy printed price tag.

The other reason I don't like to bargain also is because I feel as if I am making people do something they don't want to do (in the context of sales). If I want to buy something at X price and he insists on Y price, I'm not going to force him to come down. Good luck to you at selling it. Looking at this strange behaviour I think my aversion to bargaining may because I do not often like to come into direct confrontation with people unless I can avoid it (well, when it comes to consumerism anyway and must be distinguished from political or legal matters). This probably explains why despite loathing to bargain, I love to hunt for bargains. There's a certain thrill when I've selected my prey, studying it so as to differentiate it from the others, make the comparisons then begin the hunt for it in the newspapers, shopping malls, second hand shops like a hound dog chasing down a hare in a fox hunt. It's like a sport almost. Perhaps that's why I prefer bargain hunting - it feels more like a form of play then business.

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