Sadly, many people will lie during a bartering session. The most effective defense against this is to be aware of the deceptive tactics people may use.

Verbal Tricks

The following are some of the most common lies people tell when they are attempting to sell an item.


A person may lie about the frequency with which an item was used or the condition it is actually in. Look for ‘tells’ that the person may be lying or ask for a way to verify the information they are giving you.


A person may tell you they have the authority to agree to the terms being discussed and then once a deal has been struck say they have to get approval from someone else. This gets you to a point where you are emotionally and psychologically married to a deal and expecting a resolution and then gives them the power to come back with a worse offer which you may be more inclined to accept because you have now become committed to the transaction in your own mind. You must be willing to stand your ground or walk away when this tactic is applied.


Sometimes a seller may show examples of a product rather than the actual product that is going to be delivered or provided. You may taste a cake that is scrumptious and exactly what you want and yet the one you get is made with inferior ingredients or that isn’t the same design as the one you saw and tasted. Be sure to be clear on quality requirements in the final agreement if you are not leaving with the item(s) at the end of the deal.

Psychological Tricks

There are several ways to turn up the psychological pressure during a bartering situation.


You can make the physical environment uncomfortable for your opponent. This may mean making the location of the negotiations overly warm, cold, bright, or dark. You can use disturbing imagery either placed behind them or in front of them to throw them off their game. You can also physically place them in an elevated position to make them feel as if they are on display or place yourself in that position to imply your position of authority. You may want to bring someone who is intimidating with you to the negotiations. This person may not play an active role during the process and may not even need to speak at all. Simply having someone with an ‘enforcer’ type presence may be enough to subtly apply psychological pressure for the other party to be on their best behavior.

If you find yourself in a position where you feel any of these tactics are being used against you it may be beneficial to simply ignore them or calmly request a change of location for an unspecified reason.

Personal Attacks

Usually these will take the form of a petty insult, which may be targeted at your intellect, appearance, or integrity. This may be as simple as refusing to make eye contact or shake hands or have any other physical contact with the person.

Bad Cop

The good cop/bad cop routine is one that is well-established and usually easy to spot. To neutralize this tactic simply ignore the ‘bad cop’ altogether. People using this tactic typically are either uninterested in maintaining a lasting relationship with the people they barter with or they are so inexperienced in the art of bartering that they are simply defaulting to tactics that they have seen used on television shows or in movies. Occasionally, however, the good and bad cops will honestly be themselves and are a pair that simply aren’t unified in their objectives.


Blatant threats are always possible. If the person is threatening imminent physical harm you need to remove yourself from the situation and if that isn’t an option, you may simply have to yield and let them have their way if you have no way to defend yourself or retaliate. While it may be seen as weak to back down or surrender, in a scenario where your safety is in serious jeopardy, it may be better to utilize the old motto of “live to fight another day”.

If they are making petty threats about future retribution you may want to simply point out that there is no need for them to behave in such a manner. Let them know you want to work a deal with them and you are sure they didn’t mean for what they said to sound like a threat and that you’d be happy to give them the opportunity to rephrase. If they choose not to do so you may need to utilize your right to walk away.

Fake Anger

Temper tantrums aren’t just for children. Some people are simply immature and do not handle disappointment or rejection well. Other people know how uncomfortable strong displays of emotion are for most people and use this to their advantage. Let the person know you realize they are upset and offer to come back at some point in the future when they’ve had a chance to calm down. This will take away their power and may have an instant calming effect that will allow the bartering process to continue. This may also be used if the person you are bartering with becomes overly emotional and begins crying.

Extra fees

This is more likely to happen in a contract negotiation, such as when one purchases a vehicle. Once you have spent the time and effort to haggle and reach a price that both parties have agreed upon the person purchasing the item has become emotionally and psychologically invested in the item. The seller can then begin adding on fees that may increase the overall price substantially. Be willing to continue negotiating or walk away if the price increase for delivery, setup, or whatever else is being added is too steep and makes the agreement no longer one that is in your best interest.


People will often attempt to leverage a real or implied relationship to improve the outcome of a bartering arrangement. Relatives may try to appeal to your sense of family loyalty to try and reduce their cost or to get additional items for free. Others may promise a future sales relationship if they are given a good deal on the current item they want.


Look for little openings to negotiate for a lower price.

Let’s say you see a part for your car that you know normally retails for $500 but the person is offering it for $300. Tell them that you have been looking for that part and you know it is a fair price but that all you have is $250 and if they are willing to sell it at that price you can provide the money right then. This lets the person know you are aware of the fair retail value of the part and that the price they are asking is not unfair, but it is out of your reach. While this won’t work every time, when it does work it can afford you substantial savings.