16 October 2019
Shoppers should know where to draw the line when seeking discounts from stores or service providers. Photo: Bloomberg
Shoppers should know where to draw the line when seeking discounts from stores or service providers. Photo: Bloomberg

No bargaining, please

Call them discounted clients.

I’m talking about consumers who ask for 20 percent discounts even if they are doing business with a shop or service provider for the first time.

For the shopkeepers, such walk-in bargain-seekers serve as a useful reference to help the vendors recognize the worth of their long-standing clients who pick up goods or services without haggling.

The non-discounted customers surely deserve a big hug over Christmas, unless of course the shopkeeper has already bought them a Thanksgiving turkey.

People seeking huge price cuts may like to think of themselves of being savvy shoppers, but they may be making missteps in some cases as the other party could deem the demands as an affront.

This is especially true when it comes to a service provider who feels his service warrants top dollar. 

These thoughts crossed my mind as I came across a Facebook post from a local company, Qualitech Piano Service.

The piano tuning company put up a screenshot of a WhatsApp dialogue between the firm and a prospective client.

In the message, a service professional introduces himself with these words: “I am a professional piano tuner because I have undergone training that is no easier than what a doctor or other professional would.”

Later, he raises this question: “Why do some people always seek to bargain on the price with everyone except their doctor?”

Outlining the firm’s no-discounting policy, there is then this line: “Don’t label me arrogant; I am defending the dignity of the professional.”

Well, let’s just envisage the discussion between the firm and someone who made an inquiry:

Customer: How much do you charge at Happy Valley?
Vendor: Upright piano, HK$450.
Customer: Can you make it cheaper and earlier?
Vendor: Do you mean earlier on Thursday?
Customer: Sorry, can you do it for HK$350?
Vendor: Please find someone else.
Vendor: Would you ask the doctor to lower his charge?
Customer: Sorry, you are not a doctor
Vendor: I am a professional, just like a doctor. Otherwise, you won’t be needing me.

Kudos to the brave piano tuner!

Talking about myself, I can’t fix a piano but I am very familiar with this non sexual “me-too” situation.

My take is simple. The “discounted client” fails to understand a basic truth — that there was a situation that required him to approach the other party in the first place; there was no other choice.

And if the service provider refuses to lower his price and opts to forego the order instead, the cruel and unspoken fact is this: the company deems the client as not deserving of its service.

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EJ Insight writer