Driving A Hard Bargain
Effective haggling is about giving an inch to take back a yard. Don't feel squeamish about penny-pinching.
illustration by Jayachandran
Down the ages, sailors on shore leave have acquired a certain notoriety for highly indecorous conduct, and Yemen-based ‘shippie’ Harsh Damodaran is happy to have done his bit to keep that maritime tradition alive. While on shore leave last year, Damodaran went shopping for high-end electronic goods for his parents’ new apartment in Vashi (Navi Mumbai), with the stated intention of getting "the best damned discounts I could extract". And the methods he employed were diligently planned with military precision. He first carried out a reconnaissance mission to survey the terrain and identified the "enemy’s" weakness—dealers who seemed the most desperate to sell in a recessionary market, and therefore the most amenable to engage in a price war. He then played each against the other by ruthlessly deploying his most powerful weapon of war: "my ability to drop anchor and haggle all day—and all night." By the time a weary dealer, his ears still ringing with Damodaran’s staccato bursts, signed a ceasefire agreement, the Rs 3 lakh-plus bill had been whittled down by about a...