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August 31st, 2000

[Tip] How To Buy A New Mac, Part II
by Michael Munger

In the first part of this article, we talked about how to buy a new Mac by knowing your needs, your ability to pay and how to speculate with industry tendencies. In Part II, we discuss how to be the master negotiator in the field.

Step 4: It is who you know

Firstly, if you buy on the Web and in catalogs, you do not get the personal contact with a salesman or store manager who may have the power to reduce the price. All you will get is prearranged promotions that may not satisfy you at all times.

That said, getting special prices on Macs could be difficult since industry prices are usually on the same level everywhere. There are still a few methods that you can employ to get your way.

The ideal situation is if you already own some hardware and know that you will buy minor Mac stuff for a certain time before actually making the big hardware switch.

If this is the case, you have to do the following:

  1. Find the right place for you. If a particular store in town has qualified salespeople and good product offerings, stick with that store. Being a regular customer gives you credibility with the staff. People say that everybody buys everywhere and that "relationships" with particular places are outdated. Au contraire. You can do otherwise.
  2. By being a regular, you get to know the people. While friends may not always do everything you want, they may do something for you just when you need it the most. For that, you have to make an effort to make their acquaintance and keep a link with them, if only by visiting once every 3 weeks or something. If one needs a favor and you can help, chip in. Favors get other people's favors.
  3. Be a reliable customer. When you order, buy. Do not say, "I won't take it." If you have doubts about a purchase, do not order. When salespeople know that you are reliable, they tend to trust and respect you. This does count...
  4. Get to know the manager or the boss in the place. He, more than anyone else, has the power to do something for his loyal customers.

How does this affect anything? For example, the place where I usually buy my stuff requires a prepayment deposit when they order something that costs beyond a certain price. I always honor this rule and usually pay the total price in advance. When I asked the guys to order a 19" monitor - which they did not have in stock - for me, I went on vacation shortly after. Without even having a small deposit, the staff ordered the monitor while I was out of town and had it waiting for me in the store although I only said verbally that I was to buy. I picked it up when coming back. Why did they do that? They know me. They know that when Munger says that he buys, he buys.

If you know how to do the same, you can establish credibility in these people's eyes, and they will be ready to do things for you. This may include favors and if you are lucky, a discount!

Step 5: Handle the salespeople

Is it time to buy already? Congratulations! All you need to do is to get the best deal!

Store employees do have their weaknesses and some of them particularly like to see certain characteristics in their customers. You can profit from it when needed. Be careful. I specified when needed because playing hard ball or trying to take advantage of others all the time will only get them mad at you.

My first tip is to come up and say "I have [insert amount of money] and I want to buy a new computer." This can get someone to make an effort to stuff everything that can fit into that price limit, even if it means throwing in a little more, just for you...

In fact, I had this conversation with a music instruments store manager a few years ago. When I used this strategy with him - without knowing what I was doing - he told me that it was a clever idea. He said that to tell a salesperson that you have a precise amount of money and need a particular type of product is an excellent way to get the person to throw in as much as possible to satisfy you. He added that it was smarter than just looking around, picking something and paying for it.

A second strategy is to let the salespeople feel that you know your shit (sorry for the bad language) with computers. It is the best way to prevent usurpers from trying to cheat and sell you something too expensive. It also makes them respect your intelligence. When you try to sell something, it is always nicer to provide advice to someone who does understand what you say and can ask the right questions. Knowledgeable people love to do business knowledgeable people. They also hate to deal with dumbasses. The flip side is that you shouldn't appear as a "know-it-all" because sales people often can't stand that personality type.

You can also try to make the salesperson feel that the offer is not good enough or that it is too expensive. To achieve this, do not say, "that is too expensive." Use your body language. Look like you are slightly frustrated or unimpressed while the salesperson gets all excited about this super duper offer. This may force a sentence like, "Ok, I'll make a deal for ya." Now this sounds like music to my ears...

In this fifth step, you have to use your judgment. You are in contact with real people and negotiate real hardware, prices, specs, etc. You cannot exaggerate while using these tips since trying too hard may accomplish the opposite of your goal.


Of course, these tips look easy to use while you read them. You will need some time to practice and get to use them to your advantage. I cannot promise perfect odds of tangible results, but if you are a crafty little devil, you will get something out of what you just read. Good luck!

You can read Part I of this article as well.

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