We Americans generally accept the stated price of goods and services as non-negotiable. I found this assumption to be inaccurate before the financial downturn. It is even more inaccurate now.
Think about it. Not only is your family hurting, everyone is hurting. A merchant is more likely to negotiate to make a sale than to let a sale get away. Some money is better than no money.
Recently I needed a smog inspection for my car. Many gas stations are certified for smog inspections, but the fee they charge varies from station to station. I first drove to the station nearest my house. The stated price was $69, plus $8 for the certificate. I asked the owner (in a curious voice) “How is it that a station two miles away is charging $35 for the same service?” He replied that he had better trained mechanics and that therefore his cost of labor was higher. I shrugged my shoulders and got back in my car.
I then drove directly across the street, where the stated price was $65, plus $8 for the certificate. (Hurray, I’m already ahead!) “How is it,” I asked, “that a station two miles away is charging $35 an hour for the same service?” The clerk shrugged his shoulders. I turned to leave, stopped on the doorsill, then turned back to ask, “Would you do it for $50 flat?” He checked with the owner: “Fifty plus $8 for the certificate.” Deal. When I negotiate, I like to leave the other side with a face saving gesture, so I accepted his counter. That way, he got to feel he negotiated, too.
(In the drive from one station to the other, I realized that I really didn’t want to drive two miles away and wait 90 minute in an unfamiliar coffee shop, when I could walk to and from my house and work at home while my car was being serviced.)
My bottom line. Station #2 was closer to my home. It served my interests. And I saved $19 from where I started.
You can read my post about negotiating for specialty gin, here
, at my other blog, Civil Negotiation and Mediation
. Try negotiating. You will sharpen your skills and save some money, too. A win-win.