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Dimmer or Dimwit: A Lesson in Persistence

By Ed Brodow

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Have you ever been treated unfairly and found that there was nothing you could do about it? My suggestion: be assertive and don’t give up.

My friend, Barbara, ordered a special light for her new condo, specifying that she wanted a dimmer switch on the light. The salesman at the lighting store confirmed this. However, when Barbara installed the light, there was no dimmer. She checked back with the store and, sure enough, they had not ordered the dimmer. What’s more, they informed her that this particular light does not come with a dimmer. Why hadn’t they told her in the first place?

So Barbara ordered a different light. It cost an additional eighty dollars for her contractor to re-install it.

“Should I ask the store for an eighty dollar credit?” Barbara asked her contractor, who originally had recommended the lighting store.

“No,” the contractor replied, “don’t bother. That store NEVER refunds labor costs.”

Most people would have given up at this point. Not Barbara. In spite of the contractor’s advice, Barbara went back to the store and asked the clerk on duty. “No,” replied the clerk. “We never refund labor costs.” Apparently the contractor was correct.

“That’s not fair.” Barbara was not conceding. “I incurred an eighty dollar charge only because your store ordered the wrong item.”

“I’m sorry,” said the clerk, “but I don’t have the authority to give you a refund. We don’t do that.”

Fortunately, Barbara still did not give up. She found the salesman who took the original order and confronted him with the situation. “I think I am entitled to a refund or at least a credit,” Barbara insisted.

“You’re right,” he said. “We normally don’t agree to refund labor. I’m not sure how I am going to do this,” he added, “but we’ll give you a credit.”

He went over to the clerk and told her to “take care of it.” A refund, not a credit, was immediately applied to Barbara’s credit card.

The lesson: Negotiators are assertive and challenge what they are told. They don’t accept the negative opinions of other people (such as a contractor).If they are told, “I don’t have the authority,” they seek out the person who does. They never give up. Persistence is their middle name.

Ed Brodow Photo
Ed Brodow is a keynote speaker and negotiation guru on PBS, ABC News, Fox News, and Inside Edition. He is the author of Negotiation Boot Camp: How to Resolve Conflict, Satisfy Customers, and Make Better Deals(Doubleday). For more information on his keynotes and seminars, call 831-372-7270 or e-mail [email protected] and visit

Dimmer or Dimwit: A Lesson in Persistence

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Copyright ©   2014  The Negotiator Magazine
The Negotiator Magazine  October 2014