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Negotiating - Nobody wants to set a price.

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I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems like more and more people selling things online are going the “He who speaks first looses” rout when it comes to pricing their items.  They just say “make me an offer” which invites the prospective buyer to send a conservative offer to which the seller replies “no lowballs”.  Instead of getting offended at a low offer, why not just list the item a little on the high side and let negotiating do its thing?

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I agree. We inquired about a vehicle awhile back that said make an offer. He acted offended and we weren't trying to low ball him. Just didn't really have a clue. When we list things for sale, the prices are straight up like on our rabbits. Occasionally we might list something and put it to the higher end expecting a negotiation, but at least there's an idea, not just throw something out there. When I sell a goat, I usually know exactly how much I'll get and I always know where to start it with

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I think that some of this is due to the fact that Americans really don't know how to negotiate or haggle.  In parts of the world where negotiated prices on everything from a chicken to a car are common everyone knows the ground rules and expects unreasonably high and low amounts to be part of the deal.  Americans and many other "Westerners" are used to fixed prices, take it or leave it.  They are used to the seller putting a particular price on an item and the buyer has to pay that if they want it.

In the situation mentioned I suspect that the seller wants to negotiate but doesn't really know how to play the game.  Also, they may not really know the fair market value of their item.  So, the first few offers received are research.  After several potential buyers offer around $X and are rejected as low ball the seller will think, "Oh, maybe that is about what the market will bear"" and accept the next offer of $X.

Sometimes, the way to counter the response of "that's not enough" is to reply, "What will you take?" That at least gets a number out of the seller's mouth.  If he or she won't commit to a number it is clear that they really don't know how to negotiate and it is probably better to walk away.  You can always leave it at, "Well, my offer of $X will stand for Y time.  If you change your mind here is my number."  Beyond that, it is a waste of the buyer's time to try to educate a seller on how to negotiate.  It is like trying to teach a pig to sing.  It wastes your time and annoys the pig.

All that said, I will rarely negotiate on my iron work.  I price things by how much time I have into them, not what I think is the maximum price I can get.  So, if someone offers me less than what is marked on an item I tell them how I arrived at a particular price and to accept less it means I am reducing what my time and skill is worth by the hour.  Few people will argue with that.  I may give a small discount for large orders or I may reduce the price if for some random reason I like the person but not because I want to make a sale, any sale.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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When a seller won't put a price on it and demands that I make an offer; I sometimes will say "Pay me $200 to haul it off for you!"  (Well it's an offer...) At a fleamarket I will often ask a dealer about something I'm not interested in just to see what their prices are like.  Too high; I'll move on.

I'm selling some smithing stuff and I've put what I think is a fair price on it for what it is and for where it's at.  Not trying to squeeze all I can from it. Just want to sell it and clear the space.  Already had a fellow looking for an anvil; I got a 248# PW for about US$4 a pound.  As I expected he was a beginning smith and when he came back with a plea of poverty I directed him to the improvised anvil thread here and talked about getting started on the cheap and invited him to stop by sometime.  I'll give him a coil spring to get started on blades with.

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Had a recent, frustrating experience with this.  Happened to be looking at blacksmith offerings in the local Craig's list and saw a photo of what looked to be a nice swageblock on a stand.  I opened the listing and saw that the seller was offering a number of blacksmithing items including anvils, bottom tooling, forges..., for a sale scheduled for Sunday.  Since it didn't say which Sunday, and the ad was still posted, I contacted the seller by phone.  He indicated that the sale had been last Sunday, but since he didn't' get a big turnout he was planning on holding it again the following Sunday.  He indicated that he had sold two anvils, a Peter Wright that looked to be around 120-150# for $450 and a Mousehole in the same size range for $300 to a young man who he felt was enthusiastic about smithing.

After a lot of deliberation I decided I'd risk the potential health questions about going to a sale and attend. I was primarily interested in the swage block, as even though I already had one, mine has a broken side and I have no stand as yet.  If I could get this one at a fair price it would save me the material, time and effort to fab up a stand.   I drove out the 45 minutes to get to what turned out to be a budget Antique shop, getting there around 15 minutes early due to lack of traffic on Sunday morning.  Always best to get to a sale early in my opinion, if possible.  Unfortunately the gentleman selling the items didn't show up for another hour, then needed my help to unload his truck with some more items he brought from home.

Nothing was priced or organized (blacksmith stuff interspersed with other "antiques").  All prices, when solicited, were on the high side for my area for items that were in nominal usable condition (tongs $35-40 each for factory tongs and $15-$30 for rough homebuilts, bottom fullers $45, the 12 x 12 x 4 swage block and stand $450).  The stand turned out to be far too tall for use, and once we were able to free up the block from the horizontal mounting (which required a sledge) it didn't fit into the vertical slot and had a broken corner.  The seller indicated he fabbed it himself, and that it could be cut apart and rewelded to fix any problems...  Then he told me that a solid fuel forge the was selling dated from the Civil War.  This forge had a hand cranked blower that was fabricated from modern plate steel with fabricated wooden paddle wheel impeller, the pan and legs were made from modern sheet steel and angle, and the crank system had external multi-toothed gearing that most likely had been repurposed form some other tool.

I just smiled, thanked him for his time and drove home.  Sometimes negotiation is just not in the books.

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I tried buying an anvil and stand recently. It was overpriced so I thought it was a sure sign to haggle. I offered a little over a third of the asking price which wasn't accepted but got no counter offer except that he paid more than that but was open to trades. I couldn't get a counter offer. I was willing to dicker some but he didn't seem to be. I'm going to make another offer maybe. I haven't decided yet. 

Pnut

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I'm definitely a bad negotiator. I have no idea how to do it. I ultimately just set the price for something I'm buying or selling before the transaction, with like a 5% wiggle room. If the other party and I don't match up, I'll just walk. I'm not an outgoing person anyway, doing anything more than that is too stressful.

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I'm a big believer in the seller setting a starting point.  That saves the buyer AND the seller wasted time if the item just isn't in the required range.  Going further, I find it downright rude to not provide that simple courtesy to buyers.

Where this issue really chaps my earlobes is in job listings.  For anything other than entry level, the employer should at least put a general range.  I've seen high end CNC machinist jobs where they required all sorts of programming experience which turned out to be in the $ 15 an hour range..ridiculously low for the required skill level.  Similar with some welding positions where they expect certified welders doing advanced stuff to work for peanuts--but one only discovers that after wasting time.

Fortunately I haven't been job hunting in 35 years..but once in a while a friend is in need so I try and do some extra footwork (well, web-work actually) for them--and rude employers who don't give a rough range are a red flag to me that they aren't someone you really want to work for anyway.  However, lack of information seems to be accepted practice and a hard system to buck.

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Kozzy; one time I was job hunting; I saw a CIS job that wanted 10 years experience in this, 5 years in that, etc and so on and then it said "entry level" ---like there are a lot of folks coming out of college with a BS degree with 5 & 10 years experience in the field...

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Ahhhh, haggling a sport near and dear to me. It's an acquired skill and takes practice and research or a large knowledge base. My Father wasn't the best negotiator though he tried. If he wanted something he couldn't hide it. He dragged me along to auctions fro an early age and when it came to machine tools he was a past master and was solidly plugged into the local metal spinning and machine shop industry for many miles around. He talked to me and explained everything the whole time. Breakfast to bed time he talked about the auction etc. etc.

Rule 1. Be ready to walk away, you don't want ANYTHING very badly and you definitely do NOT NEED it.

2. Never accept first bid, asking or offering. 

3. NEVER make the first offer. If you're shopping always ask, "What'll you take?" If you're selling ask, "What'll you give?" 

You're ALWAYS SHOPPING, never buying. If you go to an auction with the intent to buy you're starting off on the wrong foot. THEY don't have to know, YOU do and it'll effect how you negotiate. 

As a rule of thumb you should never look more than sort of interested, just out of curiosity you understand. ESPECIALLY if it's something you've been jonesing for for years. 

I figure if my counter offer doesn't receive howls of anguished protest I bid too high. If they accept I was really too high.  <sigh>  If the seller gets mad and or starts swearing at me I apologize for wasting our time and walk away. It happens, nothing always works.

If I'm lucky I meet a player and we start the dance. 

If I'm selling at a demo I have a sign. Prices as marked. I'm not there to sell I'm there to demonstrate and if product disappears I have to make more, rather than what I'm demoing. 

However if someone wants to commission a piece of work the demonstration shifts to clarifying the project's scope and negotiating price and time. All variables  figure in.

Frosty The Lucky.

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I usually haggle at yard sales and junk stores. A while back my wife & I were at a junk store that had three large wrought iron wagon tires. He wanted 10$ apiece for them. I offered 20$ for all three and he accepted. While loading them on the truck he said he didn't know what they were and asked what we were going to use them for. I explained we were blacksmiths and because they were old wagon tires made from wrought iron they were getting harder to find. As we were pulling out my wife chastised me for giving him an education and if he comes across any others you can bet the price will be tripled.:wacko:

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I literally suck at haggling... I lack the social skills to finesse a better transaction. 

I'm even worse at setting prices on my labor, or work.

I own a commercial grade vinyl plotter, and make stickers/artwork and stencils for my custom gun cerakoting.

I, because of that reason- only usually do work for friends and family. That way, I dont have to set a price... we usually just work it out.

When shopping- I see a price and make my choice. Period.

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Mr. Dragon,

Your wife is right

And,   you are a generous soul that fits,  in here,  so very well.

Regards,

SLAG.

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