Ever bought a new car? Imagine if you were buying a morning paper instead.
First off, once spotted browsing the newspapers you’d be scooped up by the assistant asking if you are looking to buy a newspaper today. Perhaps, you say, but for the moment you’re just trying to get an idea of the cost. Any chance of a lower price on this Weekly World News? The sticker seems a bit steep.
The assistant assures you on the trip back to the counter that he’s certain he can find a way to get that newspaper into your hands this morning.
Been a lot of news lately, he says, so the Weekly is a particularly good value. What is the paper worth to you?
You make an offer. You’re an experienced newspaper buyer, so you go low expecting to be cajoled upward.
Oh dear, I’m sorry, I really do need to make a living you know, says the assistant. I can let you have last week’s issue perhaps for that price, but…
No, you definitely are interested in the latest edition. He asks if you would like any magazines to go with it — perhaps he could work a deal on a package of items? Alright — you’ll take a copy of Aquarist along with it. You think that must be a slow-mover, surely he’ll be keen to cut a deal if he can shift that one, and you do know someone with a fish tank who might read it.
Let me check with my wife, he says. She generally runs inventory round here. Maybe we can do that.
He disappears for what seems like a good while then re-emerges through a door behind the counter. Good news, he says — no pun intended he adds. His forced levity is annoying in the middle of a transaction; you’d rather he stick to business and get this over with. His wife wrote down a number for the Weekly World News and the Aquarist. He is including a copy of Autotrader — of course, that’s free anyway but hey — what do you think of that number. He underlines it with a sharpie.
The number is barely less than the cost of the paper and the magazine combined. If that’s the best you can do, you say, you’ll just take the Weekly News and he can keep the rest. Here’s your offer for the News — take it or leave it. You cross out his Wife’s figure and write in your own. You could live with that — it’s about 10% below the MSRP of the paper. Not the deal you wanted, but good enough if you can finish this process now.
Oh, well, let’s see. I’ll run it by her, but she can be a stickler for the sticker you know. Can I sell you a Sprite or a Coke while you wait? No? I’ll just be a moment then.
This time it takes longer. He comes back wiping his face with a napkin. You’re pretty sure he just had a sandwich. No, she can’t do that — their margin is just too tight, you see. He’ll tell you what — he can see that you appreciate the value of the paper. If you’ll come up a couple of cents he’ll damn the consequences — he won’t tell her it’ll just be a deal between him and you , and you can have your paper. How’s that?
By this stage you’re thinking your time is worth more than the additional cost of the paper, and it’s still below sticker, so you aquiesce.
Good good, he says. He thinks you made the right decision. Will that be all then, he asks.
Yes thanks just the paper.
Before you go — can he interest you in a subscription? A pair of matching Weekly World News reading glasses? How about a Starbucks card? Nothing like a cup of coffee while you read, eh. If you take it before you leave, he can probably cut you a deal. Have to talk with the wife of course…
But by this time you’ve already left. You’re off down the road and half way to the bus stop, then you realize.
Damn, you forgot to pick up the paper.