Death of value awareness is the death of fairness

Anyone who has ever been out to Leeds knows I love bicycles. An acquaintance has been searching for a new bike and has been asking me for advice.

On several occasions he has found something within his price range. But each time he told me he intended to low-ball the seller by as much as 50 percent. The seller’s asking price was in most cases more than reasonable and in some cases very low. His problem is that he has no idea how much something is worth to him. I am convinced if the seller asked $2000, he would offer $1200, but if the seller asked $1200 for the same bicycle, he would not be willing to pay that and would offer $800. It’s a sickness. It’s not enough to get a fair deal. This person needs to take advantage. He’s a member of the “I don’t pay retail” club. What makes the whole thing more annoying is that he works in a service industry and complains bitterly when customers don’t tip him at a level he believes he deserves.

A few years ago a man called me and said he needed a replacement meter for his Mercury tube tester. I wasn’t sure I had one but I went in the back and dug for an hour and found not a substitute but the factory meter new and in the original packaging. When I told him the price was $50 he told me that was way too much. The man had a non-functioning tube tester and fifty bucks was going to put it back in service. Wasn’t it worth that much to get it going? If the answer was no, then he really shouldn’t have wasted any of his time looking for the part. He should have simply thrown the thing in the garbage. He’s a member of the “I have no idea what it’s worth to me so it better be cheap” club.

Four quarters equals one dollar and one dollar equals four quarters. When you buy something your profit is supposed to be your utility and/or enjoyment from the item. The seller gets a profit that allows him to buy something that gives him utility and/or enjoyment. It’s win-win. Low-ballers don’t play that way. They only way they feel like they have won is if you lose.

More recently, a man requested a quote on a part. I wanted the sale and was willing to make considerable adjustment in price because of the quantity. I assumed he was fair so I told him to see what other dealers were offering and that I would be happy to match the lowest price he found. I had not looked myself. A few days later he came back with a surprisingly low number—around $4. I thought that maybe market volatility had pushed the price down. When I did my own search I found only 7 dealers who actually had the part in stock, and the lowest selling price was more than 3 times higher than what the man told me was the average price. And if he wanted to buy current production from the factory, the cost would be over $100.

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