Week Twenty will be, for me, one thankfully devoid of paint brushes….not as the painting is finished…far from it….but rather as we made a last minute decision for O and I to jump on a plane to Spain to see my family leaving S at home, sadly, to man (read paint) the fort. Before we left however, there was time for a quick masterclass from the Chief Negotiator….
Entering our local flooring shop with the intention of following up their quote for our lounge carpet, I retrieved both paint colour and wallpaper samples from my bag with which to double check our preferred choice of the offputtingly named ‘Mead’.
“Can you fit this week?” I enquired, eager to have the lounge operational by the time O and I return next Saturday. A phone call later and we were told that indeed it could.
“Great” I enthused, looking at S for affirmation. He appeared otherwise occupied, busily replacing the carpet samples with which O had entertained himself by scattering whilst our backs had been turned. “We’ll go ahead then.”
“Hang on, hang on” S said straightening up and stepping forwards. “My wife doesn’t tend to negotiate but I’m afraid I do. I’d like to have a chat about the price…”
“I do negotiate…” I chirped unthinkingly, allowing my misplaced pride to risk the scuppering of a carefully timed opener.
“She did indeed” agreed the owner, referring to an unimpressive shaving of the quoted bathroom marmoleum price I’d managed to negotiate earlier in the week.
“Well” S said unfazed “I’d like to see if there’s anything you can do if we were to do the lot….lounge, stair and landing carpets….in phases with lounge first.” he added. “Right now though its coming in as too much”
A dissection of the quote ensued – price per square metre, quality of underlay and labour costs – before the owner disappeared to look at his numbers.
Returning a few moments later he angled the calculater at S. S remained silent. The arm extending the calculator retracted.
“I was hoping for better than that” S said eventually.
“What were you thinking and I can tell you if I can do it” the owner said quickly.
Standing by his golden rule….never name a price….S remained cagey.
“If I told you what I budgeted…it’s a lot, lot less” and with that, as if a bell had sounded in the ring, the bargaining commenced. Higher and far lower numbers bandied rapidly back and forth before slowing down as they edged towards a middle ground whilst I meantime…cheeks red, head down….engrossed myself with the task of unhelpfully tidying samples into incorrect piles.
Arriving at an impasse the bargaining paused. It was S who broke the silence.
“Split the difference” he suggested.
The owner wouldn’t ….quite ……but coming fairly near S looked pensive.
“I’m holding out my hand …” the owner encouraged, hand outstretched. S, with visible reluctance, shook it, saving both £300 and his well earned title of ‘Chief’.
O and I leave the fort in safe hands….