“Forget William Shatner—I’m the Negotiator”

He’s probably made as much of a name for himself selling Priceline.com, as his portrayal of Captain Kirk, commander of the Starship “Enterprise.” In the Priceline ads, he cuts the air with sweeping jabs (karate style) and punches home the message:  “Negotiate with hotels…don’t just accept their prices.”  He trains consumers too, as when he tells the young man to “go lower,” (after calling him a “wuss” and a “pansy).”

Shatner’s Priceline ads are comical, but there’s truth in his message.  I know; I’ve been my own negotiator for years.

Years ago, my family went on a trip to a northern ski resort.  As I swung onto the chairlift, a piece of metal caught my skisuit, tearing it. I reported the incident to management, took pictures of the damage, and sent a follow-up letter, when we returned home.

Along with the letter, I sent a copy of the receipt (I keep receipts), showing the cost of the outfit. I made it clear that I expected full reimbursement for my loss (I never allow resolution of the problem to the business). Upshot of all?  I got a check from the resort for the full amount.

Over the years, I’ve recovered much. Countless hotel managers have credited me for noisy rooms and unacceptable conditions:  One swank resort afforded a free night (of two) because I told them their overcrowded restaurant (meant for guests) could not accommodate us for dinner. They refunded us that first night’s lodging… and gave us a bottle of champagne “on the house,” recognizing  customer satisfaction is that important.

I got a quoted $3000 carpeting job “free” because the national company didn’t uphold their end of our agreement.  I ordered mid-price, wall-to-wall carpeting (for a condo we were selling) and they put in the lowest grade.  Because I suspected deceit, we took scraps (during installation), had them evaluated at Lowe’s and Home Depot, and discovered we’d been bamboozled. I told them I had proof they’d been devious; they backed off; and I never paid (they never sent the bill).

I even negotiated the price I paid for elective surgery (yes, even that).  How’d I do it?  I took bids from competing surgeons and made sure they knew they were competing.  Like a Poker player, I kept their fees close to the vest, suggesting “If they wanted the job, they needed to do better.”  It worked:  I shaved thousands off the price.

And as for those select travel sites that make you book blind, (where you never know the hotel ‘til after you confirm)?  I don’t do business that way:  I prefer to face my adversary—or at least know who it is. It makes victory all the sweeter. 

Biddy loves a challenge and knows only too well: Negotiating is possible wherever there’s a competitive market.

About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog, kevinMD.com, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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