He got what he was asking for
Last week (or so) I went in to my local Sprint store to purchase a hands free headset for my cell phone. The guy behind the counter asked if there was anything else I needed... how about an extra line? I jokingly replied, "Nope, not unless if you can give it to me at no extra monthly charge."
His answer? "I think I can do that."
And he did. So now my teenage daughter has a cell phone (which is great because she needs to be picked up afterschool five days a week and the timing is dependent upon how long the tennis matches run.) and it isn't costing us anything beyond the thirty bucks I paid for the phone itself and the twenty bucks to initialize it.
This little incident really struck me, because I almost said, "Nope, just the headset." If I hadn't asked, I wouldn't have gotten the deal.
It reminded me of my sister-in-law, who at the fireworks clearance sale last year asked the proprietor, "what kind of deal can you give me?" And so instead of buying 1 and getting 3 free, we bought 1 and got 5 free. Without having to wheedle or bargain... just for the asking.
It also reminded me of an article I read last year which said that one of the reasons women with comparable skills and background don't make as much as men for comparable work is because women are more uncomfortable than men about asking for a high salary or for promotions and raises. In essence, they lowball themselves, accepting whatever is offered, while men ask for more than they expect they will get. As a result, men get paid more.
In one study of university grads, the difference averaged out to men making 7% more -- over 4,000 dollars more -- each year. In the lifetime of a career, that equates to some $500,000! While this seven percent doesn't account for the total wage gap between men and women -- women on average currently make about 76 cents on the dollar compared to men -- it is a significant percentage.
The studies found that not only do women lack confidence when it comes to negotiating a salary (or the price of a car) but also they also tend to be less likely to promote themselves at work -- they are more hesitant to let others know about their successes, resulting in the perception that they are less competant, continuing a vicious cycle of lower percentage pay raises than their male counterparts. When you consider that this can add up to nearly a half million dollars over a lifetime, it can make the difference between a comfortable retirement, the quality of a child's education, the ability to care for sick parents, etc, etc, etc.
For more details -- check out Women Don't ask.
You can find a sample chapter here
and a listing of statistics from the book here
This is an issue for me personally, although I have learned to deal with it over the past five or six years. Used to, someone would ask me, how much do you want for editing a paper or a book manuscript, or how much do you want for this article, and I'd hem and haw, uncomfortable asking what I felt was a decent rate, unsure if what I thought was decent really was, not wanting to ask too much, but not wanting to sell myself short either. Part of that was for a long time, I didn't know what the going rate was -- so I was taking a stab in the dark. The Writer's Market "What Should I Charge" Guide
, which has information about everything from ghost writing to copywriting, from tecnical writing to book editing, has been invaluable for me in setting prices, and in negotiating. I use it to show prospective clients what the normal range is, and then ask for a sum that I think is both affordable for my client and reasonable for myself. There is also a good guide at the Editorial Freelancers Association
. It's not as comprehensive as the Writer's Market guide, but it is less daunting for a client.