Haggling discrimination

Years ago when for one reason or another I had many things to sell in the For Sale classifieds, I had a special time-saving policy: I would tell callers whose accent identified them as from Asia or a Mediterranean country, especially Italy, that the item had been sold. By doing so I spared myself a good half-hour of haggling. The looker would spend 20 minutes pointing out each imperfection as he made despairing noises, then at least 10 minutes haggling from a viciously low first offer. I'd refuse to budge from the asking price in the face of what I saw as their effrontery and they'd leave without buying, so it was a process that wasted their time and mine. Yes, discrimination, but well-targeted and well-warranted discrimination.Australians were welcomed as lookers. Invariably they'd offer a price just below the asking, I'd accept, and the whole process would take no more than 10 minutes.As I write in my column today, it is only recently that big retailers, and only a few of them, have been encouraging lookers to haggle. Bing Lee and The Good Guys use that invitation as a promotion, and even the proper David Jones has long had a finger in this pie with its price-matching promise.But how to go about haggling? It was as much the manner of the haggling as the time wasted that led me to bar Asian and Mediterranean lookers, but it may be that the manner was not so important in their cultures because of the expectation, even requirement, of bargaining. Manner is critical, I think, in Australia if we're not to be shown the door or the gate, and humour must have a role in there somewhere.I have heard people say that they never pay full price for anything, be it a kettle or a dress. I can't imagine the department store's saleswoman being too enthusiastic about my "I'll give you $37" for the $50 kettle.So how should we go about it?

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