I posted the below to Spielfrieks a while back, and since I'm so vain about my glorious ability to write I've decided to post it again here. :-}
Spielfriek vs. The Car Salesman
So it's come to the point where I have to put more money into repairing my car than it's worth, or I have to bite the bullet and buy a new car.
I bite the bullet.
But the thing is, I hate shopping for cars. I don't like haggling. I don't like the feeling that I don't know what I doing or that I'm missing some trick. Sure, I've read books on how to shop for cars, and I've looked at 'scam' sites to know what to avoid, and I've done comparison shopping and so on, but there are so many variables that for every 'trick' I learn, I realize there are three more I'm overlooking.
I find myself wondering, "Why can't this be more like in a game? If I were haggling for a car in a game, I'd enjoy it instead of dreading it. But real-life is different."
Then I thought, why does it have to be different? Sure, I'm playing for real stakes when I'm buying a car, but what's to stop me from enjoying the process of playing the game?
The thing that always bothered me was that I knew that the car company would make more money off me than it deserved. If only I knew more about what I was doing, I could tighten the gap and not feel so screwed.
But then I realized if I met with this same situation in a game -- where I didn't know exactly how much value my opponent would be getting out of this 'deal' -- that I wouldn't even worry about it. I'd just concentrate on how much value I'd be getting.
What I needed to do, I decided, was figure out what I'm willing to pay for the car and then bargain as hard as I could to get that price. Nothing else mattered. Treat it as a game. Get that price and don't worry about how much the car company is making. Once I had this mindset, my anxiety vanished. I actually looked forward to haggling.
So my wife and I selected our car and got down to business with the salesman, I jumped into the process like a nutty swashbuckler. I had no reservations about questing every figure, surcharge, tax, fee, add-on, or whatever. "Can't this be a little less?" I asked. "Why do we have to pay for this?" and "Could you ask your manager for an even better price?"
I even resorted to my favorite game tactic, "Could you give me a better deal if I said 'please'?"
I think I was embarrassing my wife, but I found this all to be highly entertaining. This was a big contrast to eight years ago when I bought a car and hated every stupid negotiation trick the salesman pulled, or when he kept going off to speak to manager (when I knew he was just wasting time talking to his friends) But now I was in on the game and playing as many tricks as they were.
At the end of it all, we got the price we wanted, and we hadn't even negotiated our trade-in value yet! That's when our salesman made his biggest tactical mistake. After going off to talk with my wife alone, we came back and I said, "If you give us $2,000 on our trade-in, we'll buy the car."
He went to talk to his manager, came back, and said he could only give us $1000.
Both my wife and I slumped and moaned.
Now I knew if I sold my trade-in myself, I probably could get $2,000. But I'd have the moral problem of knowing that the car was at the point of needing a lot of repairs. So $1000 was fair. But we didn't let our salesman know that we thought so.
We asked for better. I asked him to meet us in the middle at $1,500. He said he couldn't go a penny more. He said this at least two more times. He made if clear that a beam of light would have a better chase escaping a black hole, or it was more likely that the next Stars Wars movie would not be yet another disappointment. We got the feeling that it was a certainty that were he to give us even a penny more, that some orphanage somewhere would have to cancel Christmas because funds would have to be shifted away from it so that we could have a better deal on our purchase.
So my wife and I went away to talk about it. We talked a long time – out of hearing, but within sight of the salesman. We knew were going to buy the car: we got the price we wanted, even with the poor trade-in figure. It all worked out in the long run.
But then I said, "Let's try to get a little bit more! If he says no, we'll say still take it. But let's try."
I went back and asked him to knock $300 off the final price of the car so that the price would be a nice round figure. To my delight, he sighed and said he'd go talk to his boss. The end result: I got $120 more knocked off the price.
Score! GOOOOOOOAAAAAAL! YIPPPPEEE!!
Yes, that's only $120, but it's a $120 more than I wouldn't have had if I hadn't applied my game-playing tactics to this real-life situation.
So, do I think that the car place still made a good deal of money off me? Sure. Do I think I could have done better if I had known more tricks? You bet. Did I feel manipulated at times? Oh yeah. But in the end, I got the price that I thought was fair and had a lot of fun doing it.
On the drive home, I pointed out other car dealers to my wife and said, "Hey! Let's go buy another car! I'm ready to haggle again."
This is a great story.
Technically, the rules of this game do allow you to see what your opponent is getting, and you should have come armed with the manufacturer's price on each component.
But what the hell, can't beat having a good time and getting a good deal.