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Wednesday, January 11, 2006 

Out shopping with me dad

The other day I went with my father to buy a new lawn mower. Mowing the lawn is an unfortunate side-effect of the hot, yet wet, weather we are experiencing in Johannesburg. If I had my way, I’d dig up the lawn and pave the entire friggin backyard. "Now whatever you do, don't speak to the salesman unless I tell you to", he cautions me when we enter the shop. "Let me do the talking" At that point, my only thought is: I wonder if he took his medication this morning? "But Dad, we are in an appliance store, not at a garage sale" "So?" is the short and curt answer. "You can't bargain on the price of a lawn mower. We're at Dions, not at an open market in Cairo" "Nonsense! I got R20.00 off on the new toaster I bought last November. That’s the problem with you young people of today… you accept whatever is dished up to you" I knew exactly where this conversation is heading. Before long he would lecture me on the good old days. So I acknowledge defeat and agree to his game plan. "Can I help you?" asks the sales man. "Yes," I smiled, "We'd like to buy an electric lawn mower, please." "Sure, if you'll just come over here. This one will cost you…", and he tells us how much it costs. Dad casually clears his throat. "Is that the best price you can offer, young man?" "Erm. Yes?", the sales man answers with a surprised look on his face. I slowly back away from them and pretend to be absolutely fascinated by the pool cleaners they have on display. The sales guy does not know it yet, but he is in for the duration. I almost feel sorry for him. "Would there be any discount for paying in cash?" "Well... we don’t give discounts on cash. However, if you can find the same appliance at a lower price elsewhere, we undertake not only to match that price, but will give it you at an even lower price" "Look, young man, I am a busy man and my time is precious. Do you really expect me to drive all over town, find a cheaper lawnmower, and then come back here so that you can give it to me at a better price? Where is the sense in that?" [I cringe, smile nervously and pretend that I had dropped something on the floor.] "Would you mind checking with the shop manager that this is your absolute best price?" The red-faced salesman agrees and walks off to find the manager. Dad gives me an enthusiastic thumbs-up. I pretend not to know him in case there are security cameras in the shop. Five minutes later the salesman returns, "The manager says we can't reduce the price, but I can give you this discount voucher which entitles you to a R75.00 discount on you next item of purchase" "Excellent!" says the old battleship. "How much for that extension cord over there?" "That will be R135.00, sir" “Good”, says he with a smug look on his a face, “I’ll take it and I want to use the voucher you just gave me as part-payment” And with that he calls me over and leads the way to the pay point. "Did you see that, son? I got him good, didn’t I?" I feign admiration and say, "Yes dad, you were brilliant". My hero. I make a mental note to return to that store with my father any time soon. I haven’t the heart to remind him that he and mom had bought a new extension cord a few weeks earlier. The one he had just bought was not needed. Mom will take care of him when we get home. Let him enjoy his victory for now.

Thank you for that. The retail world would be a far better place with out haggling. Glad to know that I'm not the only one cringing in the aisle next to my father.

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