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Accidental Bargaining Skills

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Scrooge: Good morning, gentlemen. I've something for ya.
[puts a bag of coins on the second collector's head]
Collector for the Poor #1: Twenty gold sovereigns! Oh, no!
Scrooge: Not enough? Here.
[puts another bag on the collector's pants]
Scrooge: Fifty gold sovereigns!
Collector for the Poor #2: Really, Mister Scrooge. It's...
Scrooge: Still not enough! You drive a hard bargain. Here you are.
[throws several bags at the collectors]
Scrooge: One hundred gold pieces, and not a penny more!
Collector for the Poor #1: Oh, thank you, Mr. Scrooge! Thank you! And a *merry* Christmas to you!
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A character is offered a deal and his reaction is mistaken for an attempt to drive the price up. A common form is a character reacting with disbelief that something of his can't possibly be worth that much money. The other party misinterprets this and responds by offering even more.

Another possibility is a character trying to explain that he couldn't possibly sell this item or provide that service because he literally can't. His honest denial gets mistaken for haggling.

Variations might include an escalation with several increasingly higher bids and revelations about the conditions (Thirty? Thirty thousand, of course! Dollars? No, Euro! X dollars a month? No, an hour!) It commonly concludes with someone uttering the phrase "You drive a hard bargain" when nothing of that sort was intentionally done by the character.

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Related to Do You Want to Haggle?.


Examples

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     Film - Animated  

  • In Toy Story 2, Al sees the Woody toy at the yard sale and tries to haggle with Andy's mom for it. Mom points out that Woody is not for sale, and only wound up in the yard sale by accident. Al thinks that she must be an expert haggler, and starts offering more money. He does eventually get the hint that Woody really isn't for sale—so he steals him.

     Film - Live Action  

  • In the film Edison the Man, Thomas Edison sells his patent for the stock ticker to a couple of Wall Street Fat Cats. Initially they offer $20,000 and, as Edison gets more and more flustered at the prices offered, they raise the offer to $30,000 and then $40,000. After the sale, one of the Fat Cats smugly tells Edison that they were prepared to go all the way to $60,000. Edison tells them that coming in he was prepared to accept $2,000.

     Live Action TV  

  • Our Miss Brooks: In "Mr. Leblanc needs $50", when Mr. Conklin offers Miss Brooks $25 to discourage Mr. Leblanc from buying his Stutz - Miss Brooks demurs. Mr. Conklin immediately raises his offer to $50.
  • An episode of Kenan & Kel has Kenan applying for a job in the mailroom of a large company and getting his CV mixed up with someone applying for an executive job. He's offered a massive salary and the interviewer misinterprets his shock as a sign someone having made him a better offer.
  • There was an episode of the sitcom Mixology where a man who mistakes one of the main girls for a prostitute, proposes she allow him to take her to Paris for $1,000,000. Her disbelief causes him to think that's too cheap, so he offers her next $2,000,000. She explains she's not a prostitute and he asks if she'd still like to go to Paris. She won't go for free.
  • In The Odd Couple, Felix tries to give away an extra ticket, but the woman believes he's trying to sell it to her and offers him money. His stunned silence is interpreted as "holding out for more".
  • In iCarly a big shoe company wanted to pay the characters for advertisement on their webshow, they discuss they should ask for 100 dollars, but not more to not appear greedy. When they ask for this the president happily accepts giving them 100 thousand dollars a year.
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     Literature  

     Western Animation  

  • In the Family Guy episode where Peter learns he's black and that his father-in-law's family owned his ancestor as a slave, Carter offers to pay him restitution money, and when Peter is surprised, Carter ups the price.
  • The central gag of The Simpsons episode "Last Exit To Springfield" is how Homer is unqualified to lead a union, but events coincide to make him look successful at it. Notable examples include playing hardball with Mr. Burns's offers via needing to go to the bathroom and thinking Burns is hitting on him, and his attempt to quit the job is mistaken as the cue to strike.
  • An episode of Rugrats involving a yard sale has Grandpa Lou doing this in reverse as a Running Gag; he's so enthusiastic with his sales patter (and ignorant of inflation) that he keeps lowering the price of what he's selling (which is unfortunate, since the babies are "helpfully" moving everything outside).
  • In Clerks: The Animated Series, Leonardo Leonardo bribes Dante to forget their unspecified indiscretions the previous night by offering him a position coaching a Little League team. Dante pauses a moment, clearly pleased and flattered by the offer, but Leonardo mistakes his hesitation for reluctance and reaches for his checkbook, saying, "Fine, would a million dollars change your—" before Dante, oblivious, accepts.

     Real Life  
  • Terry Pratchett's reaction to the first offer for his manuscript of The Color Of Magic led to his agent going back to the publisher and telling them Pratchett wanted a larger advance, which they quickly extended. In fact he was so blown away by the initial sum that he didn't know what to say other than, "Oh."

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