Sunday, February 23, 2020

For Those Who Despise Haggling

I have never cared for the practice of bartering or haggling when one is trying to purchase something. Some people love the rush they get as they put their negotiating skills to the test and demonstrate their business savvy. I am not one of those people. Maybe I'm a wuss, but I tend to avoid any unnecessary confrontational interactions and I just can't stand the inefficiency and repetitive nature of bartering.

I'd like to first clarify that I don't think there is anything wrong with getting a bargain or being good with money. It's been said "a fool and his money are soon parted." I also understand that there are times and places when you don't have a choice but to bargain, but why would you do it if you didn't need to? I would describe haggling as an unnecessary extra step, a waste of your time, and an exercise in inefficiency. I don't like having to employ acting skills and excessive dialogue in order to purchase something at a fair price.

My first encounter with this came as a teenager when I went to Tijuana with some friends. As soon as we crossed the border we were swarmed by salespeople trying to sell their goods. If you wanted to buy a blanket, hammock, jewelry, or any souvenir, you had to go through the process of listening to the vendor tell you how much they wanted for it which was usually 5 times too much. Then you countered their offer by saying you would pay far less than the item was worth. You did this back and forth multiple times as each party slowly gave in and got more reasonable. By the end of the process you pretended to be uninterested and walk away until they finally ran up to you and agreed upon the appropriate price both parties were okay with. This is the real price you could have just bought it for in the begin without all the theatrics. Even buying an inexpensive thing like a can of soda involved going through this ridiculous routine!

I would rather pay more for almost anything than have to play this silly game and waste my time when I buy something from a street vendor.  Since I moved to Africa a couple years ago I have been forced to barter and bargain more than I like. Taxis are notorious for making you haggle. Many taxi drivers here typically ask 3 to 4 times the going rate when I need a ride. I just feel it is insulting to my intelligence to have to play this game. That is one reason I love Uber. I know what the price is before the driver even shows up and it is usually a third of what the taxi drivers demand. I don't have to spend any time or energy arguing because the decision is made in a split second on the app. If the quote is too high, I simply don't proceed.

One exception where I can accept this type of negotiating is when you are making a large purchase like a home. It doesn't seem quite as annoying when people are dealing with large sums of money and are submitting written offers and counter offers with a deadline while their offers are being entertained. At least this only happens for most  people a handful of times in a lifetime.

If you disagree with me, just think what your shopping experience would be like if the next time you went to Costco or a grocery store the person in front of you with a large cart of groceries haggled with the clerk over every item they purchased.

After writing this post I was looking online for a picture for haggling and came across this video clip. I feel vindicated if Monty Python is also making fun of this topic. Just because I hate bartering doesn't mean I'm better than those who do enjoy playing this game... it only means I have more common sense than them.😄

No comments: