Bargains! Bargains!

Sudipta Bhawmik

The Great BargainWe Bengalis are fond of bargains. We feel insulted to shop at any store which do not allow bargaining. We are paranoid that the store owners and businesses are always on the lookout for ways to rip us off. And we would like to be on top of them. “Start your negotiation at one third the asking price”, advised our elders who claim to be the greatest negotiators of all time, “and be prepared to walk away, but slowly. The shopkeeper is going to call you back with a better offer!”
You need to be thick skinned too. Some of the savvy sales people will attack your pride and self confidence without any mercy. They will make you feel like a lowlife for having the audacity to make such an outrageous offer. Some, will keep on playing with you your own game and finally both of you will agree on a deal which will appear like a big win for you and a big loss for the sales person. He will whine and cry and ask you for the last two bits that you can spare, like “Dada, aar duto taka diye din; bounir somoy!”, and you will gracefully oblige. After all you are the big winner! You will walk away with your winning smile, and the sales person will start dealing with his next customer, hiding his own laughter. Many of us, the hard bargainers, snobbishly avoid those stores who conspicuously display the “Fixed Price” sign. What is the fun in shopping if we can’t get to play the bargaining game?

joraburger webThe online shopping scene has thrown a wrench to the traditional bargaining game. You no longer have to deal with a real person. You visit your favorite online store, search through the catalog, pick your product and pay for it. No more haggling. No more walking away with the hope that someone is going to call you back. But, we all knew that no shopping can ever exist without bargaining and that too in America, the bargain hunter’s paradise. So soon we saw the arrival of eBay, Priceline, Hotwire and many others. Ebay is now a phenomenon; it started out at as an online auction site, but soon it has evolved into a major bargaining site, where you can name your price. Priceline and Hotwire concentrate primarily on the travel business, but I won’t be surprised if they diversify into other markets soon.

But Ebay, Priceline all have their caveats. You have to make some sort of a commitment; and if the seller accepts your offer, you cannot walk away. But if you make too small a bid, you may not have a deal at all. This, kind of, turns me off. Rather I use the other form of bargain hunting, coupons and rebates. If you can find the right combination of coupons and rebates, you can manage to get great deals (or at least you can have a feeling of a great deal). There are several websites that can help you find such bargains. They will tell you which manufacturer or seller is offering what kind of discounts in the form of rebates, coupons, special promotions etc. Companies like Dell, Staples, OfficeMax often offer great deals through rebates and coupons. Check out websites like, or I particularly like, for its simple interface and no nonsense deals. It will only list those deals that are “hot”, and not the regular discounts. I confess, that it is one site that I visit once daily. is a good site if you are looking for technical gadgets and stuff. These days I find it foolish to buy a product without any discounts of any kind. Even when I find a seemingly good deal, I often feel cheated since soon enough someone will inform me that they found a better deal. It’s a lousy feeling, even though the difference may be only a few dollars. It’s not the money, but our pride that gets hurt the most. Let’s admit, we the bargain hunters, have special tools and techniques that we guard as our greatest secrets. These are the skills that we have mastered over the years that make the difference between a winner and a loser.

But again, there are those amongst us, who are more generous. They feel good to share a good tip with their friends. They feel happy when their friends are happy. I am sure you are one of those great souls. So, please, share a tip with us. Tell us how you made that great deal? I am sure the readers of this site will bless you and wish you well.

Best regards.

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