It’s not a secret that I shy away from conflict. This plays out in a variety of ways. For today, let’s focus on the art of negotiating. In particular, the art of negotiating better deals on goods and services. I do not like doing this. Not because I do not like better deals, but rather, I do not like the action of attempting to get better deals.
If someone puts a price on something, I assume that is the price they want for it. I then decide if that price is something I am willing to pay. Yes? Pay it. No? Walk away.
Husband, on the other hand, sees prices as negotiable. Jumping-off points. Conversational ice breakers, if you will. Sure, someone is asking for that specific amount, but if he really wants to sell whatever he is selling, he will lower his price. The only non-negotiable in a sale is that everything is negotiable.
While I genuinely appreciate this attribute in my husband, it’s not one that I have. No, I do not frequent garage sales, flea markets or auctions.
Six days ago, I received a phone call from my gym, reminding me that my membership is coming due and asking do I want to re-up and pay in full for 12 months or would I prefer to make bi-monthly payments and, oh by the way, if you pay in full, you will receive a cool gym bag, but please decide soon because the new HST begins on July 1, and your gym membership will include a new tax. I was then quoted the same price I paid upfront last year. Not unreasonable, but not amazing. Especially considering gyms are plentiful in our area.
You can see where I’m going with this.
“This is great news!” said Husband. “Now you can negotiate a new, lower price.”
“But, really, you’re the negotiator in this relationship,” I said.
“Nonsense,” he said. “You can always learn. Tell them you can get a great deal at Gym B, since I’m a member. Just remember: You need to be willing to walk away. If they aren’t willing to budge, you have to walk.”
“Awesome,” I said. “Blast!” I thought.
I finally bucked up and went to the gym today. Friendly Ashley was happy that I came in (after three phone calls), and she pulled out my paperwork.
“So, you would like to pay in full?” she asked. Or, kinda stated. Questioningly.
“Well, actually, I’m considering cancelling my membership,” I said. “My husband is a member of Gym B, and they’ve offered me a $25 monthly membership. If you can match that, I will gladly stay here. I do like this gym. But, I can’t turn down $25 a month. Neither can my husband.” All the while, I managed to not glance away, stammer or clear my throat, and I even threw in a smile.
“Oh,” she said. “But, why isn’t your husband a member of Gym A (operated by the same company as mine)?
“He’s loyal to Gym B,” I said. “Has been for years. And, he thinks it would be nice for us to belong to the same gym, especially if it has a better price point.” I smiled again.
“Well, I’m not prepared to offer you $25 per month,” she said, punching numbers into her calculator. “Right now, you’re around $30 a month. But, since you’re willing to pay in full, I can give you two free months. That gets your monthly total down to just under $25 a month. Plus you’ll be a Gold Member, meaning you have access to all of our gyms across the GTA.”
“That sounds great. I’ll do that,” I said. And, I thought, “Did I just negotiate a deal? Wooooeeee! Look at me! I’m a negotiator! Negotiating things! Right here! Right now! I’m goooood!”
She finished up the contract; I looked it over, very pleased with my efforts, and signed up for another year. Or, 14 months, to be exact.
Then, I went home to share the good news with Husband. He was proud.
“Twenty-five dollars a month?” he asked. “That does it. I’m definitely going to my gym and telling them that my wife belongs to Gym A, and ask them to match that. Or, maybe I’ll go to Gym C (the brother gym) and tell them you’re paying $25 a month and that I’d like to see them match it or else I’m prepared to go elsewhere.”
“Well, just remember: You have to be willing to walk away,” I said with a smile.