Two or three years ago now, a pair of women who said they were visiting the area from out of state were browsing cookbooks and crafts. When the time came for check-out, one stepped forward with four books in her hand.
“I want these,” she said, indicating three of them, “but I don’t want to pay $6 for this one.” She held up a local cuisine cookbook in pristine condition. “That’s too high.”
Her manner being somewhat brusque, I swallowed my rising hackles and said, “Tell you what; I’ll look it up online and see if I can come down a bit.”
I looked it up. The cheapest price was $9.
Now, had I had a better cup of coffee that morning, been less annoyed by her assertion that I was trying to cheat her, or otherwise not found myself suddenly holding the upper hand, I might have just shown her the screen and said, “Do you want it for $6 now?”
Instead, I said, “Well, whadda ya know?! It was priced wrong!” Then I crossed out $6 and wrote in $9, smiled less sweetly than saccharine-like at the woman, and showed her the online price range.
“I am assuming you don’t want it any more?” My voice probably sounded like honey dripping off a razor blade.
Her friend laughed out loud. “Caught in your own trap!” she crowed, which I suspect did not make the poor embarrassed woman feel any better. She paid for her other books, her friend paid for hers (without haggling) and off they went.
Looking back on the moment, I suppose I should have been grateful she was buying inside a bookstore at all. But used bookstore owners, antique store owners, handmade craft sellers and other people who hear on an hourly basis that their prices are too high, that they’re dealing dishonestly–well, we have been known to snap. You want honesty? We can give you honesty….
So hagglers take warning: when you ask “Would you take less?” you might get more than you bargained for.