Bargaining Over a Car, Noam Ebner The Werner Institute, Creighton University School of Law When John’s car broke down, he decided to buy a used car. Instead of looking forward to being behind the wheel of something better than his old car though, the very thought of haggling over the price with some smooth-talking salesperson filled him with a mix of annoyance
and frustration and dread. When he told his wife, Tina about this, she
wasn’t surprised. John often avoided bargaining; sometimes, he wasn’t even aware that he was doing
it! She, on the other hand, didn’t mind it at all, and people always told her she was
good at it. She told him to come down to the lot with her, pick a car, and get out of the
way. Doing the math the night before, Tina knew
they had exactly 12,000 dollars to spend, and not a penny more. Naturally, John pointed at a car marked $15,000. He took it for a test ride, kissed her on the cheek, and went off to have a cup of coffee. Tina told the salesman she might be interested in the car. He described the car and its condition at length, and when he saw she was getting impatient, told her that the car was on sale
for $14,500 if she bought it today. Tina cut him off, and told him she would
$10,000, cash. The salesman looked at her, insulted. “Are you trying to get me fired?” he asked? He turned to walk over to another customer. Tina called him back, and said she thought she could go as high as $10,500. The salesman looked around conspiratorially, and said he could give her the car for $14,000. He asked if she was trading in her car, and tried to talk to her about financing. Tina tried to avoid this and to redirect him back to focusing on the price. It wasn’t easy. He seemed to really like talking about those other things. Finally, she grabbed his attention by telling him, “Look. I can go as high as $11,500, but that’s all I’ve got.
The salesman laughed. “You’re asking me to give you more than 20% off the price of the
car? That’s crazy!,” he said. “I can go as low as $13,000, and also throw in a good financing
package and deluxe floormats.” “No,” said Tina, “You’re going to give it to
me for $11,500, or no deal!” The salesman looked at her, considering. She expected him to say, “Well, come to the back and talk to my manager, maybe he can offer you a deal”. But then he shook his head, “Nope,” he said turning away. “Nice talking to you.” Tina watched him walk away. Half of her wanted to shout out after him, “That’s right, you keep
on walking!”, and the other half wondered whether there was anything else she could have said that would have allowed them to close the deal.