A Tiny Rant on Customers and Negotiation

In one of my social media groups Etsy sellers have been complaining lately about customers asking for discounts. And I could certainly add my voice. Some weeks almost every message I receive is “What’s your best price?” or “Would you accept $40?” or “Can I have a discount?” or “I wish I could afford this.”

Now here’s the thing–in the vintage and antique market space negotiation is common. In some cultures it’s expected. We get that. And many online platforms provide a Make Best Offer feature. Etsy does not. Our price is our price. (Though many of us put things on sale from time to time.)

And the price I set for items on Etsy is the culmination of a lot of research taking into account scarcity, desirability, condition, age, sold prices, current listed prices, etc. I do not set that number lightly. (In the back of my mind, while I am also cognizant of what I paid for it and all the fees I will incur selling it, those figures do not play into my final price. If I believe the value of a brooch is $50, it’s $50 regardless of whether I got it for free or paid $30. I do not pad prices to offset a bad buying decision.)

All that said, on occasion I will negotiate a price with a buyer, usually when the piece has lingered in my store for a long time and I’m ready to move it on. But sometimes not. Two weeks ago a buyer sent me an offer that was 50% off the price of a high-end piece. OUCH!! This particular piece is a scarce one and my price was already significantly lower than another for sale on eBay. (The only other one I’ve found online.) I declined her offer. She then asked what my best price was. Because her initial offer had been so low I choose not to enter into any negotiations with her and told her that the piece was already well priced (it was) and wasn’t going to be discounted. She replied okay. Fast forward 10 days and she contacts me again, asking for a discount, again, on the same item in the same message thread. WTH?! I replied, again, that I wasn’t offering a discount on this particular item, but I knew it wouldn’t end there.

I’ve encountered folks like this who will repeatedly over a period of days, weeks and months just keep asking for a discount on the same item like a sort of Chinese water torture. I’ve either told them the discount I am willing to give or said the price is firm, but they won’t accept it. There’s a point when some buyer communications become obsessive and border on harassment.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Nowadays I nip this behavior in the bud. I make a new listing of the item using the Etsy duplicate feature and delete the old listing. When the potential buyer tries to contact me again about that item, they’ll see the listing is gone and that usually stops communications. If the buyer persists in contacting again about it, I mark that message as spam. So far I’ve never needed to escalate it to Etsy.

Here’s the thing–if you don’t like my prices, that’s okay. No one is forcing you to buy from me. You have thousands of other buying options. Millions of sellers to choose from. I am under no obligation to lower a price for you.

Phew, thanks for listening friends! I needed to get that off my chest.

Wishing you happy hunting and selling!


P.S. A few more thoughts (and stories!) on the subject from a previous post…

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