Thursday, January 26, 2012


Negotiations are part of the fabric that is weaved into cultures. In China,everything is negotiable. Clearly if you are purchasing fruits from a street vendor, you feel that you can bargain but rest assured, you can walk into an official store, see a price tag and negotiate the price you want!

Sherane and I went to Thailand and after being mesmerized by the Grand Palace, we went to the airport late and the check in counter was closing. We pleaded with the rep to check us in even if it meant our luggage would have to come the next day. We pleaded to no avail. So we walk up to the man with a clipboard, explained our situation that we missed our flight and tried to purchase a plane ticket. Afraid to hear the answer to the question of the cost of a same day plane ticket from Thailand to China, we heard "how much do you want to pay?" Are you serious? I am not negotiating on a plane ticket! How much is it? And the question was presented again "How much you want to pay? You give me good price" then to top it off,the charming Thai smile that is used when you are about to get ripped off.We ended up paying less than our original tickets but we walked away convinced that either this plane does not have wings or when we get to the security gate, we will be charged for fraud. We landed in China safely!

So I carried this mentality through Asia and was given a rude awakening in South Korea. I saw a shirt that was reasonably priced but before purchasing, I decided to use my negotiating skills I had developed so nicely. As I counter offered, the Korean salesperson said " this shirt is made in Korea, not made in China, no discount". I smiled, purchased it and left.

So once I touched down in America I left that mentality on the runaway. No way would I walk up in Macys and counter offer. How wrong was I?

I had a conversation with a guy I met today that left me flushed and gasping for air as I literally laughed out loud. We were talking about the differences in bargaining amongst cultures.  He was telling me that he negotiated a good deal for his cable deal and I responded "well yeah I guess that if you told them you were cancelling they would give you a deal but you cant walk into Macys and counter offer" How wrong was I? He actually went to Macys and for someone who speaks perfectly good English, he just stood by the register and said "discount" I burst out laughing in disbelief as he continued "sometimes you have to use different words like presale or say it repeatedly." As much as I laughed while he was telling the story, I am sure he was the one laughing when he walked away with 20% off his coat!

Discount! Maybe you had to be there!

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