First of all, I want to be clear. This isn't about bartering down a car salesman or desperately trying to bag a free set of mats and half a tank of petrol. I think all that stuff went out of the window, especially with dealers. These days, people search on price so it's in car seller's interests to advertise the car at the best price they can do it at.
Even on new cars, bartering isn't as big a deal as it was. These days you can whack the make, model, spec and options you're looking for into a broker like CarWow and let the dealers tender for the business. I've never purchased a car this way, but I've had quotes and they've always been a good price.
A good friend and colleague of mine was filming in Cambodia last year. He was making a show about boats, but made an interesting point. While at a market stall he bought a 'Jaguar' belt. He didn't barter the shopkeeper down. He might have even paid him a bit extra. The point he made was that a few dollars is probably nothing to you, but to them it could be a great deal. I would agree with this. I don't really like bartering, much as I don't like tipping. I'd rather know what the right price is for something and just pay it. You have to be careful though, there are instances where tourists will be ripped off simply because locals know they can get away with it.
Back in the late nineties I was in Gran Canaria, sitting in an empty bar at around 2 AM. One of the local 'lookie, lookie' men sat down and we had a chat. He was selling knock-off watches, mass-produced in a factory in Africa and smuggled over. Most of them were actually decent enough watches and looked surprisingly authentic. At the time I actually considered getting one. Why? He'd have let me have one for £10 ($20 at the time, the exchange rate was better) I could have then worn that watch and if I'd ever had the misfortune of being threatened at knife/gun point - I could have offered them the watch and hoped they'd leave me alone. If you frequent less than salubrious night spots, a fake is probably worth having even if you own the original. Anyway, back to the chap. I asked him how business was. He said it was okay, but he preferred it during the season when you got lots of Americans. Why? Apparently Americans didn't tend to barter as hard and were always willing to pay more. I don't know why this is, but I suspect it's because Americans who can afford to take a vacation in Gran Canaria tend to be the wealthy sort and they're less likely to quibble over a few dollars. Most Americans rarely if ever leave their own shores. I mean why would they? It's a vast country with some truly amazing countryside if you know where to find it and great, great beaches.
You're waffling! Get back to the point!
Sorry! So, the main take away, is that these days; bartering over the price of something is probably a much less useful skill than it was 25 years ago. However, that doesn't mean buying a new or used car doesn't require some negotiation skills.
The present Mrs. Stanley isn't a fan of cars. She's certainly not a fan of spending money on them. She buys cars with the same enthusiasm I buy bin liners. If they're safe and cheap to run, she's more or less happy. She openly admits she prefers anonymous, boring cars to interesting ones.
This obviously creates a source of potential conflict. I tend to err on the side of wanting exciting, interesting cars. When I bought my Focus ST3 it was about the most exciting car I could afford which met all my other, generally boring, criteria.
You're not seeing double! I actually parked next to an identical car to mine once.
Lately I've paid off the loan on my ST3 and so I've been looking into what I should get next. Technically I ought to save some money first. I forked out £5,000 for a piano before Christmas and got hit for a whacking great tax bill to boot. I'm about as broke as I can recall being since I finished building the house!
The thing is, that doesn't matter. I'm doing groundwork NOW, so my task is easier later. As the present Mrs. Stanley would prefer me to have a slow, cheap, boring car (and will expect me to compromise) I have to start pushing NOW, for an fast, expensive, exciting car. Currently I've been pushing for a Lotus Evora, a Focus RS, an Audi RS3, a BMW M4 convertible, a Jaguar XE 300 Sport or an old Porsche 911.
The thing is, these are all cars I actually genuinely would like to own next time. There in lies my mistake. I casually showed the present Mrs. Stanley a photo of a nice grey Audi RS3 the other day, while chuntering about how it made a lot of practical sense, but I don't really want it because I think Audi's are boring. I've been reinforcing this for years. I've been telling her for ten years I find Audi's boring. Sadly, she still looked at it and started moaning about how I couldn't get something 'that low' up our drive and saying it looks to 'racey'.
Clearly, to get to a position where I can buy one of the cars I actually want and would concede to buying, I need to go beyond where I REALLY want to be in terms of speed, excitingness and price. I'm not sure quite how to frame it, but I think given her reaction at the RS3, I probably need to be moving towards demanding she allows me to buy a BAC Mono next time...
Image Source:- https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BAC_Mono_(8606487117)_b.jpg
I really don't know how I can justify wanting an extortionately expensive single-seater with no roof, doors, windows or luggage space. I COULD argue that I mainly drive to work alone and could borrow her car if I needed to take the kids somewhere? I suppose that might be a good ploy actually because I'm fairly certain she would NOT want to borrow my BAC Mono to pop to Waitrose in....
So what's the take-away from all this?
All I'm saying, is if you're thinking of swapping your car and like me you have to consider the opinion of your spouse or partner - think about where you want to be. If they like small cars, but you like big ones, and you fancy a Cadillac Escalada, you need to convince them you really want a Thunder Trucks Ford F650 (Trust me - this DOES exist! Ask Doug DeMuro) If they like cheap cars and you like expensive cars don't open the bid at the amount you really want to spend, DOUBLE IT! It's a bit like when you need a decision from your boss, and you need it to be a particular decision. You never go to them and say, 'We need to do this.' bosses like to take ownership of decisions. Go to them and say, 'We need to do either A [The thing you need them to agree to] or B [A fake BAD solution to the problem which nobody in their mind would agree to]' This is how you get things done. It's psychology.
I won't ask you to bump and comment on this article. I'll ask you do that, but also email a link to your entire inbox, share it on twitter, instagram, facebook and tumblr. Then tell your mates down the pub to check it out too! ;)