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Ask for better, not for cheaper

When you hear a price, don’t ask if you can get a discount/cheaper. Ask if you can get better/higher quality. Give that a try, you might be pleasantly surprised with the results.
Sounds crazy? Let me explain.

Here, I will be using bicycle service as an example, but the principle is the same for most other services, goods, or business deals/arrangements.

Table Of Contents (T.O.C.):

  1. A practical example
  2. Break it down now!
  3. Bargaining
    3.1. Selling (goods or services)
    3.2. Buying (goods or services)
  4. Do business with whom you trust
  5. Conclusion


1. A practical example

Say you need a strong, high-quality wheel for cyclo-touring.

Scenario A) The regular price:

  • A good quality hub and rim will cost you around $100.
  • Wheel building (in Serbia at least) costs about $25.
  • 36 good quality 2 mm DT Swiss spokes & nipples costs about $20.
  • $145 in total.
  • If I don’t pay attention to equalizing spoke tension, I can build a wheel that looks nice and true in about 1/3 of the time needed to do a proper job.
  • Hence, I can give you a 50% discount on labour, and earn more per hour!
  • But, you will get a poorly build wheel.
  • $132.5 in total.
  • I would recommend a bit more expensive DT Swiss swagged spokes (they are more durable) that cost about $35 for 36 spokes & nipples.
  • Building a wheel with equal spoke tension with swagged spokes takes longer because they twist more, but it makes no sense to charge more for that.
  • I will charge the same for labour, but make less money per hour.
  • You’ll get a more durable wheel of a higher quality.
  • $160 in total.

The end results:

  • With scenario A (the regular price):
    – You get a decent wheel.
    – I get a happy customer, feel good about having done a good job, and earn some money.
  • With B (cheaper):
    – You save $12.5, but get a poorly built wheel that won’t stay true for long.
    – I earn a bit more per hour, feel bad for having slacked the job, and expect a return or a “bad review.”
  • Scenario C (higher quality):
    – You get a very good, durable wheel, but pay about $15 more.
    – I earn a bit less, but am delighted with having built a top-quality wheel, and get a delighted customer (which is the best advertisment for my work in the long run).

Which one of these scenarios do you like the most?

I personally refuse to work with people who insist on anything like the scenario B, but more on that below.

– T.O.C. –


2. Break it down now!

It is the painful truth that there is no free lunch. When you “get a discount,” someone is paying for that price cut, and it’s not always the seller.

Here, I’m not counting the products that are greatly overpriced so the regular price is paid only by those who are in a hurry (film theatre popcorn prices pop to mind first).

Also, I’m not talking about the upsales – i.e. when they are trying to sell you a lot more expensive product/service than what you really need (“futureproofing” is what I often hear and I plan to write a separate article on that nonsense).

Finally, I’m not talking about “general goods” that get on discount sale from time to time, in one store or another. That’s normal, and it’s OK to wait for such discounts before shopping.

Then what the hell am I talking about?

I’m talking primarily about services and high quality goods that are hardly ever sold at discount prices (Planika hiking boots for example are almost never on discount sale, at least in my country). Similar goes for making business deals and arrangements.

If your attitude is that you are looking for a high quality, even if it’s at a bit higher price, you might just get a lot better deal, especially in the long run.
Just don’t mix this with “wasting money” (i.e. not caring about price or quality, or buying what you don’t really need).

Try to find people/companies that you can trust and try to build relations without pinching every penny. When you find that and build a relation with trust, you will end up a lot better in the long run. “High quality people” (to put it that way) like doing business with other high quality people, and will try to nurture and improve such relations.
Showing trust and paying more doesn’t mean you should be naïve or blind if you see that someone is trying to take advantage of you – in that case, you should stop doing any further business with them.

– T.O.C. –


3. Bargaining

The name of the game is: don’t be greedy, be fair and honest (with yourself and the others).
We all know very well past which price we’ve overcharged or overpaid something. The price is not the same for every person and situation, but we all know what it is for us.

– T.O.C. –


3.1. Selling (goods or services)

State the price at which you are happy to sell. Not the lowest price that keeps you afloat (but you aren’t happy with), nor the price that you know/feel is too high.

Sure, it makes sense to hear the buyer’s offer first when possible, and in case it’s higher than the price you are happy with, it is your call what to do with that info – give a discount, or keep quiet about that (whatever lets you sleep well at night).

This method is good for both sales and job interviews. If your price is too high for the “buyer,” you haven’t lost anything because a lower price would be one you are not happy with. If it is “too low” (i.e. lower than the maximum price the “buyer” is willing to pay), you’ve made a happy customer, and put yourself in a position to build a good relationship for mutual pleasure and benefit.

– T.O.C. –


3.2. Buying (goods or services)

This works fine when buying goods (new or used) or services. Yes, it is wise to first hear the seller’s offer, when that’s possible. However, if the asking price is too high, it can help if you state your highest offer.

The trick is that people can often tell whether you are just haggling for a discount, or whether that honestly is the best offer you can give. That is an important detail. It may look similar, but it is the opposite of the “haggling for discounts” as described at the start of this article (“Scenario B“).

This approach can yield great results and save everyone a lot of time and hassle.

– T.O.C. –


4. Do business with whom you trust

This is not tightly related to this article’s topic, but I think it is worth mentioning.

When people ask me about shopping or business advice, and even when (potential) clients ask why they should trust me, this is my response:

Don’t do business with people/companies you don’t trust.
If your gut feeling tells you that something is wrong, it usually is (you just can’t put your finger on it yet).

Relja Novović

With this approach you may not get rich, but (at least in my experience) you’ll be able to make good relations, and avoid many frauds.

Most frauds are based on human greed (this calls for its own separate article), but in most cases, the victims could see or sense that something is off.

– T.O.C. –


5. Conclusion

I could write pages with examples of how the “pinching pennies” approach ended badly, and how the here-described approach yielded good results. I won’t do that.

The idea of this article is not to convince you or sell you something, but to encourage you to think and change your perspective (when you are ready for that).


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– T.O.C. –



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