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Negotiating prices; Vous me prenez pour un Americain?!


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I consider myself quite a good negotiator and now that I have good french I have more success, that said I found it easier in the Perigord than here in Picardie, maybe there they are more used to the English whereas here after telling you that they have given you a good price they look on any further negotiation as losing face, often become aggressive and I have been thrown out on more than one occasion despite always remaining calm and polite which they dont seem able to.

Today I needed to buy some 110mm diameter gaine TPC for an EDF connection to a colonne collectif, bricodepot only sell up to 90mm diameter.

I had had an outrageous "offre de prix" from Rexel at €290.25 HT for a 25 metre roll (all the prices I am going to give as HT) amongst a very large order with another identical sheet showing the so called "prix public" at €461 to make me believe that I was getting a discount of 38%, but of course I know that these are just vastly inflated prices which the pros can use to bill their customers, if they are challenged they can whip out the second "offre de prix" and make out that they are not putting a penny on the price that they have paid.

I went to PUM plastics at Amiens for the gaine, in my folder I had a facture from PUM at Bergerac from January where we paid €67 for a couronne of 50 meters, the guy kept repeating "ne vous inquitez pas, je vous donne un bon prix, une bonne rémise" so I was sure that I was about to be striped.

Indeed I was, his "bon prix" was €98 for a 25 meter couronne and he showed me the prix public on his screen s being €290, how many of you have walked out of PUM or a similar outfit having paid dear but thinking "at least I got a 66% discount"?

After some further negotiation including a discussion on the origin of the phrase "pris pour un americain" the price I finally paid was €29 or €34.68 TTC which to me was "correct" in the French meaning of the word for 16kg of plastic.

The worst thing is that around here the artisans would buy the gaine for €34.68TTC and facture the client €553 using the more expensive "offre de prix" as justification if called into question. to add insult to injury they would then make you dig the trench for them!!!

After the negotiation I said to the guy "tell me one more time what your original good price was?" he stroked the back of my hand in a gesture of shame and humility when he answered. I should add that this guy was more switched on and knew betterv how to deal with people than the majority of others that I have dealt with in Picardie, in fact only once before have I succeeded in similar circumstances

One good thing is that he explained to me how he had worked the system to give me the travaux public prices although I had been looking over his shoulder, he entered Colas as the customer (they are a big public works company both in France and the UK) to get the TP price and then editted in my name and address, this may be usefull to some of you in the future.

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Its nothing special to say, that bit of plastic is not worth that price. Most other people especially the native French need a real kick up the wotsit or a good shaking for accepting the situation without question.

When I see what people are billed by artisans I often ask myself how can they afford it, and also how does any public building, road, sewer infrastructure or even a pavilion get built in the real world.

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In a similar vein it has taken me 6 years of negotiation and pressure before the local trésorie publique would let me pay bills by debit card, they were really obstinate but I had to break them down little by little, once they let me pay one then I just persisted with another.

This year I paid my water bills by debit card as the year before, I snuck in my taxe fonçiere bill at the same time, she tried to wriggle but could not argue against my logic and accepted one payment for them all with a begrudging "well yes we can do it if you have no other means of paying but we have to pay the frais" I told  her that indeed I had no other means of payment, she gave me a knowing smile as i think she thought it was a credit card and I was effectively borrowing the money to pay.

The next month I went in to pay the tax d'habitation (maybe i have got the order wrong) it was her colleague who this time refused me in a loud voice so as to belittle me in front of the other customers as they so love to do in Picardie, I stood my ground and patiently explained that she was mistaken, it was not a question of pouvoir but vouloir, that is to say its not that I cannot but you do not want me to, she got aggravated and asked her senior to back her up but it was the woman who had accepted my previous payment, she said "its OK, he is English, he has the right to pay by carte bleue" [:D]

Well that let the cat at the pigeons and the woman behind me exploded " mais comment ça se fait!!" and I explained to her that I did not have any more rights because I was English but that I stood up for those that I did have, the senior colleague remarked, you do have the right to give us a hard time though! I cant recall the exact word she used, it was like emmerder but politer.

They would not allow the woman behind me to pay by carte bleue [:(]

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[quote user="Chancer"]

I consider myself quite a good negotiator

After some further negotiation including a discussion on the origin of the phrase "pris pour un americain" the price I finally paid was €29 or €34.68 TTC which to me was "correct" in the French meaning of the word for 16kg of plastic.



I cannot knock you on the negotiating skills. 

The raw materials will have cost around 1.3-1.5€/kg before the conversion cost, packaging, distribution etc..  So says 20-24€ just for the raw plastic.


You have my admiration

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