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Jan 6, 2013 09:57 AM

Requesting a discount at the deli counter


Yesterday, I was waiting for my number to be called at the deli counter in the grocery store. A man standing next to me ordered a ½ pound of ham that was on sale for $5.99. When the deli clerk gave him the ham, the man leaned in towards the deli clerk and said quietly, “now can you give the same price on the roast beef?” The deli clerk said that he would have to check with the manager and, after doing so, came back and said, “yes” to the customer, who then asked for a pound. So, this man, just for the asking, was able to get $4 off the roast beef. I have never heard anyone ask for a discount at the deli counter before, yet the deli clerk did not seem surprised by the request. So I wonder, is negotiating a discount at the deli counter a common practice?

  1. My mom would agree. She acts like life is a Turkish bazaar. She'll negotiate the price of anything. It's horrifying. And impressive... I guess there's nothing to lose by asking but I personally wouldn't do it.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Hobbert

      My dad paid full price for blankets and silver in Mexico because of the scars my grandmother (who sounds like your mom) left on him.

      1. re: Hobbert

        My dad was the same way, in his mind only a sucker would pay full price. To him, everything was open to price negoiation and he would get very offended when a business would refuse to engage in his "dealings"

        I remember him calling me after he was asked to leave a national big box retailer. Apparently he would not accept the fact that the clerk in the electronic department would not give him a discount on a TV. He was even more frustrated when I said "yes, I can believe Store W doesn't negoiate prices."

        hambone - I suffer like your father, I almost never ask for even a gentle discount at places where it wouldn't be out of the ordinary.

        1. re: cleobeach

          This unfortunately is my husband. He was raised "in a different day and time" as he is older than I and was raised by his grandparents (so that makes him what, two generations removed?). To use the cliche, back then, everything was haggled/negotiated and that is how he grew up. He asks for discounts everywhere we go. It is embarrassing to me in some places such as the big box stores and some clothing stores but you wouldn't believe the times that his request is granted...more often than not! He of course gives me the raised "I told you so" eyebrow and I want to burrow into a hole. I guess it makes me feel cheap? I don't know, it only bothers me when HE does it, not when the guy next to us in line does :P

          1. re: mandymoo

            "in a different day and time" also describes my dad, add to that being raised in a different country too.

            There was definately a cultural difference at work.

            For me, I think it is remembering the feeling when the "asking" moved on to my father becoming more aggresive (and louder) in his request. It was at that point, I would become ashamed/embarrased.

            I suspect often he was given a discount just to make him go away.

            1. re: cleobeach

              I have to say that my husband asks and if told no he doesn't press, usually says "can't hurt to ask!" and moves on with a shrug. I can see him in his later, more cantankerous years, being a bit more insistent but oh well, I'll cross that bridge.....

            2. re: mandymoo

              All the years I worked in retail, I encountered this occasionally and it was usually someone with a foreign accent. One person seriously asked if I couldn't just "throw in" a handle bag because they were buying 2 pieces of luggage. Sure, and go ahead and fill it up with Waterford crystal on your way out too, because you are such an awesome customer and we love you! We had to call a manager when someone pitched a huge fit asking for a discount and they would begrudgingly give 10% off, and then everyone talked about what a pain in the ass the person was and how they hoped to never see them again. I guess all that mattered to those people was the 10% off, but I sure wouldn't want that kind of reputation all over town, and can't understand people who do.

              1. re: rockandroller1

                I guess the hagglers (my mom included) weigh the importance of being thought highly of by random store clerks against getting a discount. Mom opted for the discount and we had a nice childhood. Not solely because of this, of course, but I'm sure it helped when raising 4 kids as a stay at home mom. Dad was a mechanic so her coupons and haggling and all the rest of it was a contribution. I feel a little silly haggling in the US but I definitely do it on bigger ticket items- electronics, furniture, that kind of thing. It's surprising how often the answer is yes.

                1. re: rockandroller1

                  I tend to agree. I am in a completely different line of work and don't directly sell to people. But I do have discretion as to when to waive fees (late, NSF's, etc.) and I also pay vendors and clients. It is my practice to be more lenient with people who are generally polite, reasonable and considerate and to stick to the letter of the law with people who are arrogant and demanding. The squeaky wheel does not get the grease in our office; in fact, my stated motto (inside joke only, of course) is that "the happy wheel gets the grease." I refuse to reward poor behavior.

                  Again, I recognize these are different scenarios and it sounds like from the OP's description of the person making the request that they were polite and respectful. I still don't get the thought process, though.

          2. Guess this supports that old adage that it never hurts to ask, the worse thing that can happen is they say no.

            I can say however that this has never even occurred to me and I have never seen it done.

            I have seen the deli guys offer a discount on the tail ends-the kind that don't really slice well so they come off kind of shredded/broken.

            1. Ugh! In my humble opinion, my take on this is cheap, cheesy, ballsy, unmitigated gall. People like that make my skin crawl for some reason.

              62 Replies
              1. re: Bacardi1

                Not sure I feel quite that strongly, but I'm definitely leaning your way.

                I could see asking for a discount if you were buying the whole piece or something, but not for an ordinary everyday purchase.

                1. re: Bacardi1

                  I agree!! ~~ Thanks for the polite adjectives...Mine would have made some folks blush!! :)

                  1. re: Bacardi1

                    It's nice that you have an unlimited budget and are able to pay full price for everything. Car dealers must love you!

                    Unfortunately, for many, cost is an object. I can honestly say that asking for a discount at the deli counter had never crossed my mind, but for you to denigrate someone for having the courage/astuteness to ask for a discount is harsh. $4 might not mean much to you, but, maybe, for this man, it meant that he'd be able to purchase another necessity. Or, maybe, this man is a top customer at this store and they gave him the discount to thank him for his continued business, kind of like the some groceries have rewards cards. Whatever the reason, more power to him, I say.

                    1. re: Vidute

                      But in this case the guy behind the counter isn't giving a discount using his own money; he's likely just some worker. It sounds like the guy asking is expecting that they'll just ring up the second one *as if* it's ham, not roast beef. Which is stealing, IMHO.

                      1. re: DGresh

                        Based on the post there's no reason to go to that conclusion. The customer asked the deli worker, the deli worker asked the manager who approved. For all we know, the next day the deli was going to have a sale on roast beef and figured giving the person the sale price a day ahead of time wasn't a big deal.

                        1. re: DGresh

                          "The deli clerk said that he would have to check with the manager and, after doing so, came back and said, “yes” to the customer"

                          How is it stealing if it's brought to management and it's approved by them? Let's stick to the facts as the OP presents them.

                        2. re: Vidute

                          Car dealerships & deli counters are two completely different industries, & negotiating the price of a car is a world of difference from asking for/expecting a discount on deli food.

                          And since when did deli-sliced roast beef become "another necessity"?

                          1. re: Bacardi1

                            You may define what types of food are and are not necessities - but in general, I'd say that food ranks for most as a necessity.

                            While I completely understand someone feeling personally uncomfortable haggling/negotiating themselves - I really don't understand looking down on it. I think that waiting for a food product to be weighed/prepared/packaged and then trying to negotiate the price to be unattractive. But negotiating the price before asking for the item - I say go for it.

                            1. re: cresyd

                              I think it's fair to say that haggling in a non-haggling culture could be expected to be shunned.

                              It all comes down to posted prices in grocery stores -- if you want to pay the posted price then that is accepting the posted price.

                              If you don't want to pay that price, for whatever reason, then you need to keep walking.

                              And again -- this applies to retail stores -- where prices are posted, and the consumer knows that this is not open to haggling.

                              Cars and houses? That's where you're semi-expected to haggle.

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                I think it happens far more often than just in cars and houses in "non-haggling" cultures.

                                I know that when my mom has worked with various "event" suppliers (caterers, florists), in a non-business context she's always haggled. And, I've essentially done it in clothing stores (in the US), when there's a visible flaw/stain/damage to the garment (i.e. what kind of discount would you give me on pants with a broken zipper). While obviously in a chain clothing store, such a discount would be standard policy and not necessarily individually negotiated by clerks - the concept is the same.

                                I'm not saying go into a Whole Foods and haggle on the price of grapes, but if it's a smaller scale business, and you're dealing with management/owners, I don't see the harm. I assume most suppliers and businesses haggle with one another, don't see why it's necessary to draw the line with the consumer.

                                Ultimately, I think that haggling takes more time and thus other people find it rude when they're waiting for the haggling to finish. And as this thread clearly shows, you're going to have people think of you as cheap, rude, etc. But if you don't mind people in line possibly staring you down or slightly embarrassing people you're shopping with - I say go for it.

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  Actually there was just on article on Home Depot, that every employee is authorized to give discounts on the spot. Regular associates, let's say up to $50 or $100 (can't remember), floor managers maybe $500 and store managers $1,000. So you never know until you ask. I think I've heard the same for some other big box stores.

                                  That said, I am SO not a haggler; don't enjoy it tell the truth. But I did get an instant 10% discount from the cashier at TJMaxx once when I noticed a chip on the LeCrueset I was buying as I was checking out, that was nice. He was just a cashier but didn't have to even ask anyone.

                                  1. re: coll

                                    >> That said, I am SO not a haggler; don't enjoy it tell the truth.<<

                                    Same here – haggling is not something that I am comfortable with. Some years ago I was told to haggle the price of a contract with a big recruiting company. No one was more surprised than me when I scored an 18% discount, when all management expected was 12-15%.

                                  2. re: sunshine842

                                    Why do you "need to keep walking" if you don't want to pay the posted price for something? Maybe we think of ourselves as living in a non-haggling culture, but in my experience that's not uniformly the case--at least not in New York City, where I live. Many independent merchants here are from haggling cultures themselves, and they don't bat an eye when asked for a discount as long as there's some rational basis for it. (For example, the item is a floor model; the customer's buying an unusually large quantity of something; etc.). They just say yes or no, and unless the customer has the bad taste to insist after being told no, the transaction is concluded amicably. No shunning involved.

                                    1. re: Miss Priss

                                      because that's how the system works.

                                      If you're just going to make up a price for everybody who walks in the door, then why have a posted price at all?

                                      The store doesn't get an extra discount because they gave you a why should the store take less profit for customer A than for customer B ?

                                      I have no problem with asking if it's an unusually large quantity or if there's some sort of defect...but not for a loaf of bread and a pound of ham.

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        but retailers do make up a price for each person that walks in the door. yours happens to be the posted sticker price. if someone has the wherewithal to ask for a discount, his price is the discounted sticker price. if someone has a store loyalty card, his price is the loyalty sticker price. if someone has a coupon, his price is the coupon sticker price. if someone is of a certain age, and not ashamed to proclaim it, his price is the senior discount sticker price. posted prices are fluid. if you chose to pay the posted price, that's your choice. don't disparage someone for wanting to pay one of the other prices.

                                          1. re: Vidute

                                            but those are structured prices, not "made up for each person who walks in the door".

                                            Manufacturer's coupons are reimbursed by the manufacturer, so the store receives the money anyway.

                                            Store coupons are usually underwritten by the manufacturer, too, in the form of a rebate or discount on that particular item -- so the store gets the money anyway.

                                            Loyalty discounts vary depending on cost and profit (and set discounts on things like store-brand items or magazines are most assuredly figured into the profit structure).

                                            Senior discounts are figured into the profit structure -- just like loyalty discounts.

                                            They might have price levels for different groups of customers, but that's vastly different than making up a new price for everyone who walks in the door.

                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                              when coupons are doubled, or even tripled, the store is giving that person a discount for a product that is not reimbursed by the manufacturer. that is a price that the store "made up" for that particular buyer. think extreme couponing.

                                              the loyalty cards for some at some of the stores that i shop discount products that are specific to my shopping habits. that is a price the store "made up" for me.

                                              promotions such as spend "x" amount and get a ham/turkey/chicken/lasagna/etc free provide a discount that is "made up" for a particular buyer.

                                              so, as you see, the store does make up a new price for each person who walks in the door.

                                              1. re: Vidute

                                                Please do not believe for a heartbeat that the manufacturer does not pay for those coupons -- or for specific discounts offered "just to you" (which isn't just to you -- it's to anyone who has bought a particular product featured in a vendor program, and reimbursed by...the manufacturer)

                                                and those buy x get y are NOT made up -- they are printed and distributed, not dreamed up on the spot.

                                                I'm guessing you're not familiar with the pricing and discount structures between manufacturers and retailers...but it's not random, and it's not made up, and I promise you somebody pays the store eventually, even if it's not you.

                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                  the manufacturer does not reimburse for over the face value of the coupon. any amount over the face value is absorbed by the retailer. harris teeter has double coupons up to $2 this week so that means if i use my $2 coupon on that tin of coffee, and you don't, i will have paid $4 dollars less than you. ok, $2 out of that $4 is reimbursed to the store; however, the store is still giving me an additional $2 off of their posted price which comes out of their pocket and which you are not receiving. so, they "made up" a price for me that is $2 less than the price they made for you.

                                                  several groceries in my area have a policy that if their scanner scans the wrong price, you get one of the incorrectly-scanned item for free, along with the difference refunded for all of the other like items. now, i see that my jug of laundry detergent scanned for $10 but it's on sale for $6. i take choose to take my receipt up to customer, speak to the clerk, point out the error, and receive the $10 along with the free jug of detergent. the store has just "made up" the price of $0 (zero dollars) for me. you buy the same exact jug of detergent, get charged $10 for it, don't notice the error and go home having paid full price. the store "made up" a price for you of $10 for a product with a posted price of $6. or, you're not aware of the store policy, so you tell the cashier that the item is on sale for $6 and cashier makes the correction at her register. so, you go home having paid the $6 price which the store "made up" for you. this is the same product with three outcomes, three different prices.

                                                  I'm guessing you're not familiar with the pricing and discount structures between manufacturers and retailers...but it's not random, and it's not made up, and I promise you somebody pays the store eventually, even if it's not you.

                                                  and i'm guessing that you don't understand what you, yourself stated above. let me paraphrase what you said. i am being given a price that is lower/unavailable/unknown to you. i will not have to pay the store, somebody else will. using my above example, I get the $6 detergent for free and you wind up having paid $10 for the exact same item, over-paying $4. i get a "made up" price of zero while your price is more than the posted price. so thank you for paying for my purchase.

                                                  1. re: Vidute

                                                    No, Harris Teeter does not absorb the cost of the extra $2. They get it back from the manufacturer.

                                                    They did not make up a price just for you. You qualfied for a price that they set up so that some people would qualify for it, and they have already factored it into their profit structure.

                                                    They know, way before you even start to think about getting your keys and heading for the door, that x people will qualify for (read: have the coupon or card for ) y% discount. They allow for it in their profit structure.

                                                    They have also made agreements with their vendors to be reimbursed for z%. z% always exceeds y%. When it doesn't, they drop that item, and possibly that vendor.

                                                    And I (or any other customer) am not paying *extra* -- I simply am not qualifying for the discounts that they have establish.

                                                    These are not made up discounts, and they are certainly not random. These are carefully structured percentages that they allow a pre-determined percentage of people to qualify for.

                                                    (I've worked for companies that sell to major grocery, mass-merchandise, and home centers around the world. There is nothing random or made-up in this industry.)

                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                      if your coupon redemption statement is correct, "They have also made agreements with their vendors to be reimbursed for z%. z% always exceeds y%. When it doesn't, they drop that item, and possibly that vendor." then why don't all stores offer double, triple, coupon promotions since, according to you, the vendors will reimburse?

                                                      1. re: Vidute

                                                        paperwork, and some just don't want to play the "me, too" game.

                                                  2. re: sunshine842

                                                    Yep! As a manufacturer of refrigerated consumer goods, a coupon face value (even the catalinas) are not Krogers or Meijers loss, it's ours. But they are calculated and usually targeted to encourage trial.

                                                    While you think everyone get that coupon, not everyone did and it was placed in your newspaper by zipcode or printed out at the register due to your previous purchases.

                                                    1. re: Crockett67

                                                      (but it's still a big group of people who got that coupon....even if it's through one of Catalina's programs, it still spits out a *lot* of coupons...)

                                                      Is the coupon-redemption rate still in the single digits, percentage-wise?

                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                        Nope, it was lower a few years ago, like 25-40% redemption, nonetheless, never single digits.

                                                        But it depending on if the item is core or new. Meaning if a roll of sausage or bacon has a coupon, it has a higer redemption rate since people use that item regulary. If it's a new product, say a cheese, egg, spinach stuffed biscuit put out by Pillsbury, redemtion is not as high. The consumer is getting a discount to try the product but it's not a sure bet.

                                                        Since 2009, coupon redemtion on our core items has sky rocketed. Like 85%+ redemption. This has hit our marketing department and impacted the amount of coupon we release as a result. There is only so much that is budgeted a year for that line entry. This is why we are very specific on where coupons are droped and who receives them.

                                                        1. re: Crockett67

                                                          Aside from the hassle of finding them, I rarely use coupons because the items I buy never seem to have coupons, and since the brands that I buy are my preference why try something that I feel will disappoint me.
                                                          Though I do use coupons when the brands are of comparable quality, or if it's a new brand/product, but those are in-store coupons placed alongside the product. Sadly most of my grocers coupons are for lower-quality house-branded products trying to lure shoppers from the national brands. While I suppose adequate, the times I've tried regular house-brands have left me disappointed, although I regularly seek out their premium house-branded products. Prior to about 2009 I don't recall seeing in-store coupon placement at my grocer, do you attribute that to the skyrocketing redemption?

                                                      2. re: Crockett67

                                                        "They have also made agreements with their vendors to be reimbursed for z%. z% always exceeds y%. When it doesn't, they drop that item, and possibly that vendor."

                                                        according to this statement by sunshine, you, the vendor, also reimburse the store for amounts over face value, such as when stores offer double or triple coupons. is this correct?

                                                        1. re: Vidute

                                                          Yes, it is.

                                                          it may not show up as a line-item credit of "double-value coupons", but the vendor pays for it.

                                                          1. re: Vidute

                                                            I work R&D, not marketing/sales. While possible, I would be surprised if they did also pay the vendor the double or triple the coupon value. It's never been mentioned/lamented in meetings. But it could just be accepted 'the cost of doing business'.

                                                            Thing is, we make so little on products. The lionshare of the mark-up is on slotting fees and their cut. If we put out a $0.50 coupon, honoring it for $1 to $1.50 per unit would be a loss gain of epic measure!

                                                            1. re: Crockett67

                                                              Aren't those accounted for as loss-leaders?

                                                              1. re: Custardly

                                                                "Loss leaders" is a grocer-term not a manufacturing term. Meaning the grocery chain/stores are taking a hit on sought after items, like turkeys around Thanksgiving, in order to entice you to do the rest of your weekly or thankgiving shopping needs there that single shopping episode. Usually 'we' are lazy and once we are in a store, typical consumer will just do all there shopping there.

                                                                The grocer is banking that you will buy enough milk, egg, tea, ect to make up the difference. I.e. to get that free turkey you have to purchase at least $100 in groceries (not including Rx, alcohol, or tobacco) during that visit. It also build brand loyalty, good will, and commitment to the chain. Butterball did not donate all those turkeys at Thanksgiving that Harris Teeter or Giant Eagle gave out. The grocer still had to pay the agreed on case cost.

                                                                Another way too see this is, Butternut bread is not reciving any kickback from Sara Lee when a grocer decides that if you buy 2# of Sara Lee turkey, you get a loaf of Butternut bread free.

                                                              2. re: Crockett67

                                                                thank you, Crocket67. the store managers i've spoken have all told me that the store is only reimbursed for the face value and that any amount over face value is the store's responsibility.

                                                    2. re: Vidute

                                                      Fantastically said!!! That's the idea behind one of my earlier replies where I complained about discounts only to specific populations.

                                                    3. re: sunshine842

                                                      Well ... my point is that the system *doesn't* actually work like that everywhere, or all the time. The posted price is just an offer to sell at that price. It's not a contract until the customer accepts it. Except in unusual circumstances, retailers are free to lower their posted prices at will, and they do it whenever there's some sort of gain in it for them, even if it's not evident to an observer. Life definitely seems more fair when we believe that everyone's being treated equally, and less fair when we discover that some people have proactively obtained advantages that we didn't get, but that doesn't change the fact that it goes on all the time, even at the deli.

                                                      1. re: Miss Priss

                                                        but it is the normal and ordinary, and overwhelmingly common, way of doing business.

                                                        We can draw up exceptions until we all keep over and forget what we were talking about.

                                                        But the normal and ordinary business practice is to post a price and that is the price that is paid.

                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                          Yes, normal and ordinary--just not universal or mandatory. I'm not advocating that we become (more of) a haggling culture, by the way. I'm only pointing out that it goes on all the time in retail, even if it's in a small minority of transactions. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and all that.

                                                          1. re: Miss Priss

                                                            but those are exceptions...the vast majority of the time, that's exactly how the system works.

                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                              Agreed. That's usually that's how it works in retail; and in general, we're the better for it. It creates predictability and a certain kind of fairness. I just don't see why that should bar a prospective buyer from asking for a discount that the seller has every right to deny. To me, it doesn't seem like a violation of the social contract (or a blow to our supposedly free-market system) when a person tries to initiate negotiations with someone who can simply refuse to negotiate. And if the seller chooses to grant a discount to another buyer but not to me, and no systematic discrimination is involved, my choice is to accept it or shop elsewhere. I can even encourage others to boycott the place!

                                                              1. re: Miss Priss

                                                                if sunshine wants to pay full price, that's her prerogative. but just because that is her choice, that does not mean that everyone else should fall in line and do the same because, daggonit, there's a price shown and that price should be for everyone. each transaction is private between the seller and the buyer, no matter what the venue. and as you said, Miss Priss, as long as both parties agree on a price, whether it's the posted price or a negotiated price, then it is a fair market sale. after all, a retail store is not in the business of holding onto merchandise, that would be a museum.

                                                  3. re: sunshine842

                                                    You have to ask whether we're truly a non-haggling culture and why that perception. In business, price is constantly negotiated, it's only in retail that we're not expected to haggle—to whose benefit have we been conditioned.

                                                    I'm an aspiring haggler. My perception is that if a business is able to make a profit on a reduced-price item, then it's not unreasonable to ask for a discount. Why is it okay to buy a car for supposedly only a hundred dollars over invoice, but not to ask for a discount on items sold beyond 100% their production/wholesale cost?

                                                    It's sad that we've allowed ourselves to be conditioned to retail profiteering. Rather than thinking of it as asking for a discount, it's what that person is willing to pay. For me, that's a fair price for both seller and buyer.

                                                    Still, other than using a coupon, I've never thought to haggle over interesting.

                                                    1. re: Custardly

                                                      er, no. Price is not constantly negotiated. Manufacturers and wholesalers have costs -- and in a huge number of industries, set their prices once a year and don't move from those (save for extremely large purchases, which everyone has pretty much agreed falls outside of this discussion)

                                                      Even industries that rely on very volatile pricing, like industries based on petroleum distillates, typically only change their pricing every 6 months or so.

                                                      Most manufacturers are asked to give 90 days notice for price changes...that's hard to do when you're making everything up as you go along.

                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                        i was shopping for a refrigerator last year and stopped in at hhgregg. the price displayed on the refrigerator was marked as regularly priced at $2199 on sale for 20% off, $1759. i opened the freezer door and found the previous week's price tag which showed the regular price as $2049 on sale for 15% off. when i asked the manager about this anomaly, he said that the wholesale price fluctuated from week to week. uh-huh. yeah, and the sales price was basically the same for both weeks. needless to say, i didn't buy the refrigerator and i haven't been back.

                                                        1. re: Vidute

                                                          Vidute, wow, such blatant evidence of the retail pricing game, it's no wonder why some people haggle!

                                                          1. re: Custardly

                                                            Exactly! I remember seeing an illustration that accompanied an article in a biz journal about prices paid for airline seats on a single flight. A dramatic range in price paid, from zero (for coupon or frequent flyer customers) to full fare. Lesson learned: don't ask the guy next to you what he paid as you'll probably be depressed for the rest of the journey.

                                                        2. re: sunshine842

                                                          Actually business prices are constantly negotiated—agreed upon. Whether an industry has a set or variable price does not preclude it from being negotiated. Regardless, I only meant to suggest that consumers have a presumption that it's unacceptable to try to obtain a better price. Still, I could have worded it better.

                                                          1. re: Custardly

                                                            not in the fast-moving consumer-goods industry (i.e., grocery, mass-merchandiser, home center)

                                                            Those prices are set months in advance.

                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                              We're debating two different things...semantics wins again!

                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                But the point that seems to be ignored here is that asking is not the same as getting. The deli clerk, the manager, and whoever else worked at the store also had the power to say "no." They would have done so if it were the store's policy to not negotiate and/or if what was being asked would harm the company. I don't think it's up to consumers to think in the best interest of the profit-margins of the retailer.

                                                          2. re: Custardly

                                                            Margins in retail stores tend to be very tiny. Pricing is calculated very precisely. Non-reimbursed coupons, senior discounts, discounts on errors (mis-scan, damaged goods), shoplifting, etc. are all budgeted in. Individuals coming up and begging for a discount is not a built in cost.

                                                            Having worked in retail, I can tell you that when people come ask for a discount, it puts the store in a tough position. Sometimes they give in just to keep the haggler from throwing a fit in the store. I've seen that.

                                                            The lost revenue, though, has to come from somewhere. It's considered just like shoplifted merchandise. The costs are recovered by raising prices on other items at other times and by cutting costs, which generally comes down to lower wages to the employees.

                                                                  1. re: Custardly

                                                                    I think the it's easy to ascribe that the US/West is non-haggling because it's not done in the same way as open market shouting haggling is portrayed in films about the Middle East (and in fairness, does sometimes occur in the Middle East).

                                                                    What I think the real marker is that it's more considered 'unseemly' to talk about business in "public". If someone's discussing a catering menu/bill for a private party - that's typically don't in a one on one setting. When negotiating a car price, it's done in a more private space. If I want to buy a case of wine/item in bulk from a small retailer, it's typically done "off to the side". I think that open haggling or discreet haggling (examples like showing a flawed item of clothing to a sales rep just to see if there's a discount to be had) are very common in the US/Western cultures - but it's mannerly to be done quietly.

                                                                    In more "open" haggling cultures, loudly engaging in a discussion about the price of deli meat does not automatically imply that the shopper is low class or poor, but rather seeking out a good price and being a smart shopper. Just in the same way that just because someone could afford to purchase a car at sticker price - the overwhelming feeling would be that they were ripped off/engaged in bad business. Not a sign of them being generous or cool about money.

                                                                    Going back to our deli meat guy - I see what he did as stepping outside normally perceived haggling manners. But I think a wide sweeping "we don't haggle" way of thinking really neglects a whole lot of subtle negotiations (and far more open negotiations) that do occur all the time.

                                                                1. re: cresyd

                                                                  Yes, food's a necessity. Now that I'm retired and living on way less income, I rely on the packages of marked-down ends in the deli section. Some stores do not pre-package them, or they get behind and haven't had time to pack and weigh them yet, but they are available if the customer asks.
                                                                  My reaction to the scenario witnessed by the OP is as negative as that of the other commenters.

                                                                  1. re: Vidute

                                                                    Vidute +1

                                                                    to each his/her own.
                                                                    you don't know any particulars about the person seeking the discount-maybe their dog died the day before and they're not thinking straight, maybe the mortgage is due and unexpected family (who thinks he/she is doing well money wise) just called to say they're in town and wanna spend a few days at this persons place, maybe its a person who just got good news about his/her health is finally treating themself to a nice plate of deli faire, who knows.
                                                                    I've never done it, it wouldn't cross my mind, never heard or seen anyone do it.
                                                                    but it shouldn't be my concern if someone did same right in front of me. I might even pop a response, " wow, now 'that's an idea."

                                                                  2. re: Bacardi1

                                                                    I think it depends on what you're used to. There's always the whole Middle East culture of shopping where negotiating is part of shopping culture to such an extent that not engaging in some kind of bidding is seemed as rude or dismissive. As though you don't have the time to engage with the vendor.

                                                                    And a great way to be royally cheated.

                                                                    1. re: Bacardi1


                                                                      Well that's a rather unhumble opinion, and quite judgemental.

                                                                      What gets my ire is the multitude of discounts only offered to select members of the population. If they want me to pay full-price, then they better darn well charge everyone else the full-price too!

                                                                      I'm new to haggling so I rarely ask for a discount, but I admire those who do and hope to further cultivate it in myself. I use to feel similar to you, but I'm weary of being cheated and subsidizing others!

                                                                    2. There are only 2 situations in which I can conceive of asking for a discount at a deli:
                                                                      (1) if I were buying a large volume, say for a party. But then I'd be much more likely to call ahead to be sure the manager were available and so as not to hold up the line for others
                                                                      (2) if they were sold out of an advertised sale item, I might ask if they would substitute a competing brand at the same price. And, I'd only do that based on past experience, when I've expressed disappointment in such circumstances they often volunteer the substitution without any request.

                                                                      1. I'm OK with this as long as the person behind the deli counter is the owner.

                                                                        If it's just some employee, or part-time hack, then I think it's in both bad taste and judgment.