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September 26, 2008

Haggling with a haggler

September 25. Day 87.

It was 11:50. I needed to leave for the airport by 12 if I took the subway, but I still had a few things to do. Solution? Taxi!

Normally, the fare would have run around $65. (Trip from campus to my friend's apartment to pick up suitcase: $7 to $8. From there to airport: around $45. Airport toll, paid by passenger: $5.50. Plus tip.)

I approached a driver, smiling.

"I have a proposition for you. You take me to Davis square, wait for me five minutes while I get my suitcase, and we go to the airport, for $50."

"That's kind of tight. The meter would run about $70. There's also the toll, I don't know." $70? Whatever. But I got his game.

"I'll give you a big tip."

"Get in!"

On the way, George, who was from Syria, got a phone call and started haggling over a car for his daughter. I took a few notes on my cell phone.

"I like the car, but is there any room on the price?" Interesting. I've never used that phrasing before. Tuck away for later.

Later: "Yes, but what about the price?" Insistent, direct, a little pushy. Like, "You'd better make me a deal or you'll lose me."

Finally: "So what's the total? With everything? I see. Well, I'll tell you what. I'll come and look at it, and if I still like it we'll talk then, okay?" So he didn't conclude the negotiations right away. Kept the door open.

After he hung up, I asked him if he managed to get the price he wanted.

"He will lower the price by $2,000," George replied. "I think it's good." Still, he added, he'll check with with some friends who are in the car business, to find out if it really is a deal.

Lesson: Do your research. And even when you're satisfied, don't show it.

Gained: around $5, and some tips from a pro.
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