Tricks of the Trade

24 03 2008

An article published in the NYT yesterday revealed that one of the earliest shopping techniques is making a comeback. Not that haggling ever really left, but it is definitely not thought of as common practice in any of the places that I shop. This article says that the notion of bargaining down the price is becoming increasingly popular in major retail outlets. According to the article, retail historian from the Harvard Business School Nancy Koehn says that haggling in department stores used to be commonplace, before stores adopted fixed pricing in the 1850s. But with technology-enabled price comparison and online negotiating, the retail salesforce is quietly being allowed more freedoms to negotiate prices with customers. The downward spiraling economy has also put more power in the consumers’ hands when it comes to price negotiating. There are examples of in the article of people who’ve successfully “haggled” down the prices of large and small ticket items, from big screen televisions at well-known retailers such as Best Buy, to things such as rugs and clothing. Koehn blames the “ebay phenomenon.” She says that ten years ago people didn’t like to haggle, and they thought they weren’t any good at it. But using ebay has boosted confidence. I am not sure I agree with her. Bidding for something on ebay is quite different than negotiating face to face with someone. First of all, price negotiations go on all the time. Didn’t today JP Morgan increase they offer to buy Bear Stearns to $10 a share in order to appease shareholders? That’s price negotiating. Paying below sticker when you buy a car. Making an offer on a house. These are all instances in which people are haggling. I was in New York a few months ago, and my roommate and I made a few purchases from street vendors. We never paid what they asked initially. It’s all part of haggling. My confidence in haggling is pretty limited when I am negotiating with someone face to face about a purchase. Whereas on ebay, I have no problem making a bid on something. That being said…is haggling really making a comeback? How far is it going to to? And how is this going to affect the lines at registers? I know I intentionally go grocery shopping late at night because there are few people there. I don’t like waiting in line to buy my groceries. If we have to wait for people to haggle on the price of everything in their basket….would we get home before the milk went bad?
I need to stop and buy some toothpaste on my way home. I wonder if I can get it for $2.50, instead of $3.14. I guess it’s worth a try…wonder how many people I will irritate in the process by trying to haggle with the cashier.
Happy shopping!

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It’s a free country…

21 03 2008

…so why wouldn’t someone want to sell their life? Ok, there have been some pretty interesting things sold on ebay, but this has got to be one of the strangest things I have seen. There is a man who is going to sell his life on ebay. Ian Usher, from Australia is offering his furnished home, car, motorbike, friends, and job in an auction on ebay that opens for bidding on June 22th. The man rides motorbikes, snowboards, and sky-dives in his free time. Seems to be a pretty full life to anyone. And, as Usher told ABC News, it is. For someone other than him. He’s tired of his life, and wants a new one. He says the desire for a new life was triggered by the break-up of his marriage. He’s even put up a website that lists the reasons that he’s decided to sell his life, as well as a list of it’s contents. His current plan is to do to the airport and take the next flight that has an empty seat. Geez, I wonder where he is going to end up. I think it would be funny if the next flight took him somewhere random, like Casper, Wyoming. Not that he probably wouldn’t enjoy Wyoming. Mountains and stuff. (And, I mention Casper, WY, because one of my very good friends from college was actually from there. It’s not even a small city or anything.) He could still get into extreme sports. I wonder if he is going to give up his name. I mean, if I won this auction, would I suddenly be Ian Usher? I guess that would be pretty weird. It’s not that uncommon though for people to sell most of their belongings when they are moving? So what is unique about this guy? Besides the fact that he doesn’t really have a destination plan. Well, and he says that he is selling his friends, and his job. And his boss agreed to give whoever wins a try at the rug store where he works. That’s interesting.
So, what if I decided to sell my life? Well, ok, my apartment is very nice. It comes with a roommate, who is awesome. You’d have to be the maid-of-honor at her wedding, because if you are getting my life, that comes with it. My family, whom I adore. But they are not for the weak or weary, I’ll warn you. This includes 1) My dad-totally brilliant 2) My mom-biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met, and waaaaaaay creative 3)My brother-the life of the party 4)My sister-such a sweetheart, and always a surprise 5)My Gran-hard-working and always inspiring 6)My Nana-beautiful, uplifting, and an awesome cook 6)My Nanny-caring, independent, adventureous, and so energetic. Not to mention an entire slew of Aunts, Uncles, and cousins. My job-which comes with it’s own set of interesting people, and is only for a true-blue geek-at-heart. My car-a yellow nissan xterra. My friends-spread all across the country, but have all made a mark on my life. Hopefully they can do the same for you! This blog, I suppose you can have. You are also welcome to my college loans. Those, I’ll throw in for free! So, whatdya think? What would you pay for all of that?
You know, on second thought……I have a damn good life! I ain’t sellin’!! Ian, I’m sorry, but I think you’re crazy!