Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Adventure in Tiffany & Co.

Valentine's day was getting close and I wanted to get a nice present for my wife. I had a beautiful necklace picked out. Then I googled "Negotiating at Tiffany". The search results were discouraging. Every credible posting indicated no flexibility on the price. But it never hurts to try and you don't know until you ask.. right?!? So with the most positive of attitude, I decide to try my hand at negotiating. Negotiation always feels like that magic thing that sales people knows how to do. Engineers are not suppose to be good negotiator. I don't have much experience negotiating with retail stores. I'm pretty good at searching for good deals on the internet. But I'm a total newbie at negotiations.

If you can imagine for a moment, I was about to walk into one of the most stuck up retail store, ever, and I'm going to try haggling. Crossing the massive and intimidating metal doors, walking pass the burly security guard with pinstripe suite and the earpiece, trying to approach the sales person with all the confidence that I could muster. I looked the necklace again then I asked for price discount in my best imitation of a polite and firm tone. The reply I got was also polite and firm.. "Tiffany has NEVER change an item price is its 175 year history". It's pretty convincing.

Do I gave up? Of course, not. Even though, i'm a newbie, I never do things without preparation. And the key to successful negotiation is preparation. I'm reading "Getting More" by Stuart Diamond, highly recommended by a good friend and follow blogger I figured my little stunt at Tiffany & Co would be the perfect time to practice.

As recommend by the book, I have a plan in mind.
1) Connect with the sales person. Make it easier for me, I call the sale person on phone first to start. I had the sales person's email address too, but  negotiating over email is obviously a bad idea.
3) Ask a bunch of questions
4) Ask more questions when I met face to face
5) Always stay friendly and calm. I know I was going to get the piece, it's just a point of practice to see if I can "GET MORE".
6) Acknowledge Tiffany brand's power and appeal.
7) Ask for help.
8) Listen to what is not being said.

Did I successfully negotiate at Tiffany? I think so. Here are some things that I learned and successfully negotiated for.

- You don't have to be Newt Gingrich to get an interest free loan from Tiffany. They offer 6 or 12 month interesting free revolving balance loan if the account is paid in full. Anyone with good credit can qualify.

- You can negotiate for better service. I wanted the necklace to be extended by 2 inches. I got the fee  waived.

- I wanted the piece in time for V-day. The extension were done in N.Y. so I got express overnight shipping for free.

These were small concessions, but looking back, it was a lot of fun. I was proud of myself for trying to negotiate. I practiced many important points from the book. I believe the plan worked. The sales person could easily have said no to any and all these requests. She would have made the sale any ways. Because we connected, keep the process friendly, she went out of her way to try to clear the things with the manager. To give even more credit to the Tiffany sales person.. I received nice and very surprising thank you note from her. How often does that happen? A sales person that gives you a thank you note.

Monday, April 2, 2012

First science experiment with my son.

I want to foster scientific thinking and curiosity in my son. The first grade science topic was different states of matter (gas, liquid and solid). Like many 1st graders, my son thinks he knows everything about it already. So I asked him some questions about evaporation and water vapor. His answers were very good.  My final question was "what would happen to the water in an airtight jar?" I don't remember his exact answer, but I remember responding.. "so.. that's your hypothesis?" He replied, "Yes!"...

And that is how we kicked off our first science experiment. I found two identical glass jars, one closed and one open. We filled it with filtered water and use tape and marker to indicate the start date. The experiment got off with a very slow start. I thought there would be some evaporation indoors. Nothing happened after a few days so we moved the experiment to a sunny spot outdoor. 

Son photographed experiment result after 1 week

My son was very excited when he saw the result 1 week later. He carefully marked the second measurement and saw that the open jar had about .25 inch less water. More importantly, he noticed another key difference between the two jars. There are water droplets accumulated inside of the top portion of the closed glass jar. He described it as 'I could see that water had nowhere to go'. To him, it is the key proof that evaporation occurred and water vapor was trapped.

The experiment was a big success for him. It validated his hypothesis. It was an even bigger success for me. We immediately hit the library and borrowed books for more science experiments. Our next 3 experiments are in the works:
  1. Test the effect of salt in the water on evaporation
  2. Test the effect of different size of hole on evaporation by using saran wrap
  3. Make sugar crystals by evaporation of a super saturated sugar water mix