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January 14, 2009

Oldest trick in the book! And, why do we dote on dolphins?

January 14. Day 198.

Behold how the oldest trick in the book resulted in $30 savings.

If there's one thing La Divina and I were hoping to do on Kauai, it was to snorkel off the Na Pali coast. This is an area that's only accessible by sea and air -- and the snorkeling is supposed to be wonderful. Coral reefs, a rainbow of fishies, secluded beaches, and calm waters.

Stop one: Blue Dolphin Charters, whose brochure claims "Guaranteed Dolphins!" in bold italics.

We showed up in time for the 1 p.m. "dinner cruise" (no, I don't get it either), only to learn that they were sold out, and that snorkeling boats only leave mornings in the winter.

The reservation agent said there was still room tomorrow, and it would cost $139.

"Isn't there some $10 off deal?" (I'd seen this in a coupon book somewhere, a few days earlier.)

"Sure, I can give you that."

"Ok. Let me just take a minute to think about it, please. I'll be right back!"

Stop Two: Kauai Sea Tours.

"Hi, I'm interested in your morning snorkeling tour. Do you have any room tomorrow?"


"And how much is that?"

"It's $129."

"I see. Well, the place next door is offering it for $115, so if you could bring the price down to match that, I'd love to come with you guys."

She checked with her manager, who murmured something, and the agent returned to say she was sorry.

"It's my manager who makes these calls," she started.

Smiling, I walked up to the manager, who four feet away and tried to look busier as I approached.

"Hi! So you're the person I want to be talking with. Is there any way you could drop that price? Even by $5?"

"You're already getting a big discount. The price she quoted you is our sale price. Normally, that tour would be $145."

"I see... But I'm not interested a big discount, I just want the tour that leaves the most money in my wallet."

"I understand. I can't do it any lower than that."

"Even $5? I'm ready to pay, and that would be so nice of you..." (I slid my card forward.)

"Since you're already getting our discounted tour, I can't lower it any more than that. It just has to do with our agencies, and it's just not something I can do... I'm sorry..."


(The monologue seems monotone as I write it here, but both of our tones were pleasant.)

Back at Blue Dolphin:

"Hi again! So, I just checked next door, and they're doing the same tour for $115. Any chance you could knock a bit off the price? Make it an even $125?"

"I can!"

Gained: $30 in 10 minutes, just by playing them against one another and not giving up.

Post-script. I'm so glad I asked. I just looked on Blue Dolphin's website again and saw the internet price is $126.14. I had actually checked the web page the night before, but forgot the price when I went in person. Proof, again, that there is never one price for everyone. Knowledge and/or persistence = power.

PPS: The mosaic above is by John Unger, an artist living in Michigan I just found on google images. Why do people like dolphins so much? I like them too. But why? If you have any thoughts on this, or this post of course, I'd be sooo curious to hear them. Did you study dolphins in second grade and enjoy the coloring activity (like me)? Watch them at Sea World? Read Scott O' Dell? Do you see them as smart, free, graceful? Why dolphins? Do you have a different favorite creature of the seas?
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