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Couple sees right through slick salesman's tactics

They still purchase his product but have a little fun with him during the negotitions


Recently my husband and I recognized we were the object of a superb salesman's crafty ploys, yet somehow we admired his legitimate, yet somewhat debatable, tactics.

We'd planned to update our antiquated bathtub, so we accepted a rep's invitation to explain the merits of those fancy, walk-in-models.

"Mr. James" told us about his product's incredible workmanship and ease of operation. Gilding words brought up the matchless joy of such a tub for us. Glossy, color photos of a smiling couple admiring their own addition backed his claims.

One of our first questions: Price.

Talk about "sticker shock!" But Mr. James had a ready answer: "Just for you!" and began listing deductions: "Your being seniors: $2,000." Ditto for our locality. More hefty deductions for: end-of-stock, date-installation availability, quick payment… ad infinitum.

When he'd subtracted them all, the price was still high but not as mind-numbing.

Lawrence and I made no comment but were privately amused at - but not influenced by - this ploy.

(Mr. James was unaware we'd heard the story of the woman who knew her husband would never agree to the $250 price tag on a dress she coveted, so she told him, "I just bought a $3,000 mink coat." He turned purple and demanded she return it. "All right," she answered. "I'll take it back… IF you'll buy me a dress I want - it's only $250." He was happy, so was she.)

Even so, we were still mulling the wisdom of such an investment at our senior stage of life when Mr. James apparently sensed our hesitancy. With a worried expression, he suddenly grabbed his phone and frantically dialing, told us, "This is such a popular model, things go crazy at this time of year. I'd better call and make sure it's available." In mere moments, he snapped shut his phone, added, in awe: "There's only one left!"

Lawrence and I made no comment, but were privately amused at - but not influenced by - this ploy. (Mr. James did not know that mere days earlier a friend, who's been incredibly successful in selling expensive machines worldwide, laughed while confiding in us, "When a buyer hesitates, I just tell them, 'There's only one left,' and he signs.")

Our suspicions re product availability were confirmed when Mr. James whipped out a contract and began filling it in…until I reminded him, "Shouldn't you call your boss to save that only one - tub left?"

"Oh yes!" he said, grabbing his phone. "How about that? He was just calling me to make sure you want it!" (Boss apparently was complicit in the scheme.)

However, weeks earlier, my husband had decided the cost of such a purchase would not only add to our physical comfort but also increase a comparable value of our home so, in spite of the investment cost, we did make the purchase from Mr. James.

Now, in case you're curious why I've written this piece, think of the possibilities YOU can have, simply by using a salesman's old tactics:

1) Emphasize the person's desire for whatever it is that appeals to him/her.

2) Next, quadruple the sticker-shock price well before telling the actual price so

It will seem reasonable. It'll even work if you're a kid and your parents expect you to get all As or Bs in school. First off, tell them, 'I got an F in math," and they'll praise you when you show them your C-minus. You get the point.

3) You can hurry a spouse's - or anyone's decision or hesitation - by saying, "There's only one left."

Not surprisingly, the above ploys will work every time.

©2014 Isabel Torrey. Torrey, a long-time columnist, resides in King City.