How not to negotiate… auction #247758229

Sometimes trades just go bad and when they do there is usually a small window of opportunity to fix them. Both the buyer and the seller have to be reasonable and see things from the other guys perspective and work together to seek a solution that works for both parties.

I recently had a huge spring clean and sold an awful lot of stuff on my Trademe auctions. All was going well until James bought a a Squier off me to mod into something better.

Living where I do I have extra costs if buyers want something couriered or sent urgently. I have an arrangement with my RD man to do special runs up to Tuakau Post Shop for me that saves me 120km two hour return drive but costs me $20. My payment instructions clearly point out that extra costs are involved if the buyer specifies urgent delivery.

James specified that he did want this, in fact he wanted the guitar overnight.

The RD man had been and gone on Friday morning by the time I got James’ email so I got in the car and headed up to town. Overnight courier was quoted at $64. Now I know that it’s harder to seek more postage than to refund so I went with the 1 – 3 day Track and Trace. Postage cost $22 and 2 rolls of gaffer tape to secure the hardcase cost $4 from the $2 in Pukekohe. Total post and packing costs comes to $26. Had I made the RD man trip I’d have got an invoice for a further $20 so my P&P estimate of $45 was close enough.

By the time I got home I had another email from James. He wanted to know the track and trace number so he could pick the guitar up from the depot in the morning. I emailed him the Track and Trace number and pointed out that I had gone the extra mile to get the guitar away as fast as possible.

Monday rolls around and I have another email from James. He wants to know why I didn’t use overnight courier. I remind him that the auction stated NZ Post Track and Trace and tell him overnight courier for the item was considerably more than he had paid. I told him I work out postage and packing on a worst case scenario and refund the difference once the goods have been confirmed as arrived.

Tuesday and James has his guitar. He sees the postage was only $22 and demands a refund of $23.

I point out that he has omitted to allow for packing costs of $4 and ask that he makes this allowance before we settle on a refund figure.

James refuses to accept the packing tape as a legitimate part of the P&P cost and once more demands a refund of $23 but this time he adds the closing line “I expect you to stop wasting my time and refund my $23.00 for postage as any thing less is tantamount to theft and as much as I really can not be bothered I will take appropriate action which if nothing else will waste your time also.”

I take the opportunity to once more remind James of the packing cost which he deems to be theft and advise him that there is an inherent problem with a negotiating style that involves one party holding a gun to the other guys head and saying ‘do what I say or else’ and that is you are left with too few options if the other guy calls you on your threat.

James reply is predictable, personal abuse and foul language “You appear to be a very petty and small minded twit, take your money and fuck off.”

So I gracefully accept his kind invitation.

James complains to Trademe about the overcharging, I reply to them advising that James was made aware of the extra costs and refused to acknowledge the packing tape costs and they seem OK with that.

James gives negative feedback. I do the same.

End result, James pulled the trigger, lost a $19 postage refund and hopefully learned a valuable lesson about negotiations.

Negotiating while holding a gun to the other guys head is just dumb. When he refuses to back down all you are left with is a bloody mess.

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