Friday, October 05, 2007

Playing the Game

I was reading It's a Numeric Life and got to thinking about the ultimatum game. There is no negotiating in this game, but we play similar games everyday.

I know that many of my readers live where haggling over prices on just about anything is practically a national sport. I really enjoy travelling where this is the case--just to play the game. I began teaching my son this game when he was just about five years old. We were at a garage sale and he saw a basketball that he wanted. It was four dollars. He asked me if I would loan him four dollars and said he would pay me back when we got home. I told him that I would only loan him two dollars. "But, Dad" he insisted, "the basketball is four dollars."

I told him that he would have to see if the lady would sell it to him for two dollars. I remember the look from this little boy. I know that he thought his dad was nuts and wasn't real sure about what I was telling him to do. But he took the two dollars and the basketball and asked the lady if she would sell him the ball for two dollars. She told him she would sell it for three. Aaron said that he only had two dollars but would see if he could get more from his dad. (I think he had already realized that he just saved a dollar!) I gave him two quarters and he made the deal for $2.50. Hannah has been a little harder to teach, you can tell when she really wants something so she doesn't always get the best price. Aaron knows that you can get the best price walking away from the deal. Hannah is learning. She did fairly well on our last trip to Mexico.

I've learned that you can still get deals in the US, usually just for the asking. My family knows that if we are travelling and looking for a hotel to spend the night, we probably won't be staying at the first place we stop. If it is past 9 pm, we both (the desk clerk and I) know that those empty rooms aren't going to get filled up and discounting the room so that I'll stay there is better than letting the room stay empty.

Once, we were going to my wife's family holiday gathering. Her sister had done some checking for local hotels and found the best rate/location at a hotel through I checked the priceline rate and then called the hotel direct to book the room just a couple of days in advance and asked for the rate. It was only a little higher than the internet rate. I said to the clerk, "Now if I check on the internet, I'm not going to find a cheaper rate, am I? Because if I do, I'll cancel this reservation and I'll find a different hotel to stay at." The rate I ended up with was much less than the priceline rate.

Cardinal baseball tickets are another "game" to be played. With Aaron along, you get no deals. He wants to be in the park when the gates open and watch batting practice and try to get a few autographs (he's got quite a few over the years). But if you can wait 'til the game is starting...BONUS! The last time I got a $42 ticket for $25 and only missed the first half inning! I've introduced the "game" to some of my friends that have begun to ask for the discounts and they are amazed and how often they can save a little cash. There are not many areas in the US that you can play this little game, so you have to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves. If you've never tried it before, give it shot...ask the question, "Is that the best you can do?" if you live where you are always playing the game...I'm a bit jealous.

If you have a "game" venue that you'd like to share, please do. I'd love to play, too.


1 comment:

Amanda said...

John, you sound really good at bargainin. I'm terrible at it even though I've lived in places that mandate it. I'm a bit like Hannah!