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November 14, 2008

Asked for an asking

November 14. Day 137.

Short version, in case you're in a hurry:

Another retail attempt. Another bust.

Here's how it went down:

I ended up at Cost Plus with my mother, to look at some rugs. They have some nice wool ones with persian-esque designs, which had caught my eye some time ago. Fortunately, almost all were 25% off! Unfortunately, not the one I wanted. (The ones pictured are from another store, but I liked the image.)

I found a salesgirl walking the floor. She had rung up my purchases in the past and had always been friendly. I made my case.

"I noticed that all the rugs are on sale except for this one. Do you know if maybe it's a mistake?"

"It looks like just this series is full price, that's so weird," she said, checking the prices.

"Well, do you think I could get the sale price on this one, anyway? Even a smaller discount would be great."

"I don't... think you can do that." She looked doubtful, but in a way that gave me hope.

"I'd be willing to make it a final sale, or pay in cash?"

"Cash doesn't make a difference for us, I'm afraid."

"I mean, I could walk out with it today, like a clearance item, and never return it. If you could get the price down a little."

"I don't think we can do that."

"Argh, that's too bad! I love it. I would totally buy it if it were just a little cheaper. Is there any way the manager can come up with a discount? I've heard that sometimes they have special powers."

She smiled. "I can ask for you, but I can already tell you the answer will be no."

"Would you... mind asking?"

I got the feeling I was starting to waste her time. "I can, but he's almost definitely going to say no."

"That's ok. It would be worth a try. If you don't mind."

"I can. But I can already tell you he's going to say no." And then her eyes lit up. "If you open a charge card with us, you get a discount. Or, if you sign up for e-mail promotions! Or, it might go on sale later? They go on sale at random times."

"Thanks. I guess I'll wait to see if it goes on sale." Easy out. In a sense, I like that she offered alternatives -- she was an asset for her company by dissuading negotiation and quickly pointing me to their credit card. And at the end, she seemed to genuinely want to help me get the price down with all those options. Except by asking her manager.

I took her word that he'd say no. I think that was a mistake. Perhaps by asking her to ask, he would have come over and I could have gotten a different answer. Or perhaps by asking her to ask, she would have starting thinking that prices, even those printed in ink, are not set in stone. Could be good for her shoppers, and in her own life. Instead, I respected the status quo and rested my case as quickly as you can say "Loser."

Gained: Practice, I guess? Practice at taking rejection? Arrrrgh. Practice at not persisting? AAAAK! Do any of you readers have ideas for retail bargaining? Is my approach all wrong, or is it just a lost cause?
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