I sell vintage and antique items on Etsy and it’s not uncommon for folks to send me messages with offers. Some are cringe worthy asking for a 50% (or more) discount. Yikes! I typically decline all offers, but if the item’s price has enough wiggle room or has been in my inventory a long time, I may send a 10% off coupon code or make a counter offer. These emails rarely lead to sales for me though. Most folks have a price in mind and that’s what they want to pay. Period. There is no negotiation or flexibility. Here’s one recent story I’ll share…
A guy contacted me offering me $50 for a $75 Native American basket. I countered and said I could sell it for $65. He declined based on the damage. (The small damage on the lid is shown and described in the listing.) Now fast forward a month and he contacts me again (!) asking if I would accept less for this basket. This time I sent him a coupon code for 10% off. He writes back: “Thanks. Best I could do is $45. Plus postage. I will have to pass on your offer. Damage is reason for my offer of 45.00.” I’m betting he contacts me again in a few weeks offering $40! Perhaps he thinks if he keeps contacting me and pointing out the damage I will eventually acquiesce to his request. Hmmm. Refer to Barbossa.
But if you are inclined to make offers on platforms like Etsy and eBay, here are some guidelines that I think will help make it a more pleasant, successful transaction for everyone…
Do’s and Don’ts on Price Negotiation
These are my ideas based on my five years of online reselling and from those of fellow sellers gleaned from various social media platforms.
- Don’t make low-ball offers. We know what our items are worth. Don’t waste our time and yours.
- Don’t share a sob story about how this is “all you can afford” or that you’re on disability or that you want to buy this for your dad’s birthday, but you’re just a student, yada, yada. This makes no difference in regards to purchasing this item. Either you can afford it or you can’t.
- Don’t point out the item’s flaws as if we don’t know them. We’ve detailed them in the description and in the photos and the price reflects that.
- Don’t say “You’ve got this priced too high. I’ll give you $XX.” Most sellers do a lot of research to determine the current value of their items. But even if you believe his/her price is unrealistic, pointing it out will not score you any points with the seller.
- Don’t ask “I can get this cheaper at XYZ. Can you match their price?” If you can get it cheaper somewhere else, then buy it there! (I had a gal contact me about a 1950s sterling silver charm I was selling for $18 plus shipping. She said, “I can get this on eBay for $11.95 with free shipping. Can you match that?” I replied, “Wow that’s a great deal. I would grab it on eBay.” Later I researched it and discovered the $11.95 eBay price was for a junky silver-plated, new version of the charm. Apples and oranges.)
- Don’t ask “What’s your best price? I know this is a standard question in price negotiations and I dare say I’ve asked it once or twice, but it really is an annoying one. Our best price is the one you’re looking at! (Instead I ask: “Is there any wiggle room in this price.”)
- Don’t ask “How much did you pay for this?” That’s none of your business and not relevant to its current value or this negotiation.
- Don’t ask “What’s the lowest you’ll take?” Because I shan’t tell you! (I have a few items on eBay that use the “Buy It Now/Make Best Offer” feature. Instead of using the handy dandy feature to send me an offer amount, one lady sent me a message asking “What’s the lowest you’ll take?” I ignored it. She contacted me again saying, “Unfortunately, I have a small budget …what is the lowest you will consider? I look forward to agreeing on a price.” She added a smiley face. I don’t play that game. Make your offer and we’ll go from there.)
- Do remember that this is a business. The folks selling these items have costs. For some this is their sole livelihood. They have time and money invested. They have driven many miles and spent hours scouring thrift stores, auctions, yard sales, etc. for these items. They have cleaned them, tested them, researched them and photographed them.
- Do make a reasonable offer. In my books, that’s in the 10%-30% range.
- Do expect a counter offer.
- Do be courteous in your communications. Enough said.
Well, that’s my two cents on the subject. I know I’ve made some debatable points. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.