I’m actually not a fan of haggling. I don’t like approaching a place of business, being given a price, and then being expected to haggle over the value of the product or service I want until the merchant finally gives it to me at a “discount” rate. I know things cost money, and I know businesses incur costs to deliver them to me. On top of that, I know businesses expect to make a profit, and I don’t begrudge them that. Those simple facts should all add up to discreet prices, and I prefer seeing the best price first so I can make as quick a decision as possible about whether or not I feel it’s fair.
Maybe that’s the issue – I would much rather cut to the chase. Buying something is a task to me, not a game or even necessarily an enjoyable experience. I do enjoy the things I buy, but I want there to be as little friction between my decision to buy something and my enjoyment of it as possible. For these reasons I found buying jewelry in Mexico particularly vexing – how in the world am I supposed to know how much silver is worth? How can I tell if it’s really silver? Are your children really going to starve at $75 for a pair of earrings with some quasi-precious stone attached to it?
No lie: I actually paid double the price for a trinket I bought at a market in Paris because I didn’t feel like haggling and didn’t want to wait around for change. He said a Euro, I had a two-piece. We traded items and I went away happy… so I could go peruse used and antique bookstores. Ahh, but I guess some transactions are meant to take time.
Of course, sometimes things just work out in your favor, no haggling required. Such was the case for me when I called to setup trash and recycling service at our new home in Greenville.
If you live within the Greenville city limits, you get trash and recycling service thanks to your local taxes. I happen to live a little less than half a mile away from the city limits, so I was on my own. I hear competition drives prices down, but without knowing how much the city pays trash companies, I have no way of knowing if competition outweighs collective bargaining in trash service. But I digress…
I had two options that I knew of: Waste Management and Waste Industries. I found a quote online for the latter of $49.99 / quarter for weekly trash and “fortnightly” recycling service. “Not bad,” says I, as I dial up Waste Management to get a quote from them. Turns out they wanted to charge close to $75 / quarter for weekly trash and recycling. I told the customer service rep that I wanted to check competing quotes, and she went into “convert the sale” mode. “Is there anything we can do to get your service right now?” she asked sweetly.
“Well, really I just want to call Waste Industries and see if I’m reading their rates properly. I’m seeing a quote of $49.99, and I’m all about saving $100 a year if I can.”
“Oh, well, let me see if I can approve a discount for you.” Seconds pass. A very few of them, leading me to believe I was somehow pre-approved. “Ahh, in fact we can do weekly trash and recycling for $57 / quarter.”
“Sold. I’ll call you again in a year when you try to raise me back up to your ‘normal’ rate.”
And that was that. I hate haggling, but I honestly intended to call Waste Industries and ensure there weren’t hidden fes that weren’t published on the website I saw. Additionally, we do some serious recycling at our house, and the weekly service would help a lot. (By serious I mean that recyclables I accidentally – or even intentionally – throw in the trash are quite likely to be dug out and carried to the recycle bin by the next day. I’m at least a conscientious recycler of brown bottles, though…)
If you have a higher rate with Waste Management here in Greenville County, call them and let them know you found a quote for $49.99 and would like to cancel your service. I’m guessing you will be approved for that discount to stick with them. If you need a different quote, check out http://www.garbageforless.com and put in your information to find your bargaining power with your existing trash provider.
(Disclaimer: I reserve the right to switch my service next year without mockery from you readers. I have a soft spot with Waste Management, because I helped build their Greenopolis website. But I’m no passive customer… if that discount disappears in a year, I’m hittin’ the road with my garbage and recyclables.)