Bartering in the 21st Century

We’re a nation of shopkeepers in Britain so we’re told.  The corner shop missed by so many in rural areas presented a huge opportunity for immigrants to establish a thriving business with the whole family piling in to keep the shelves stocked and the shop open late into the night.  How we’ve all benefited.


My, how the shopping landscape has changed.  We have no village shop – it closed years ago, no post office here.  Nothing.  A car ride to the local town for all supplies on a daily basis is a reality for us.  A change from living with a supermarket at the end of the road for 30 years.  It didn’t matter if I forgot to buy milk or ran out of eggs. And unlike the corner shop no-one in the supermarket knows who I am or anything about me.  Just a face with a store card of info about my shopping habits recorded, and I get a free coffee.

Online shopping has become the norm for many.  In fact we go out looking for something specific in the knowledge that if the shop doesn’t have it we’ll “look online for it”.  Today, rather depressingly I soaped my hands and managed to struggle my wedding ring over my gnarled arthritic-ey finger and found myself looking for an”expanding wedding ring”.  Do you know such a thing does exist?  I thought I might have to resort to an elastic band. Its not very attractive and i don’t think I’ll bother. But whatever you want is out there…somewhere.

There’s a new way of shopping too which involves being savvy, and spending time scouring websites for the best deals even for fundamental items like a mobile phone contract and car insurance.  There used to be an insurance broker who reassured you he’d done the legwork for you and was offering you the best deal.  Nowadays, almost routinely every year I go through the tiresome exercise of the insurance policy trade off.   I receive the policy renewal which, surprise surprise has increased due to so many people making fraudulent claims apparently.  I check two different online price comparison sites, reading the small print in an effort to compare apples and apples and not apples and kiwi fruit.

Having done that several more minutes of my time are wasted listening to someone at Tadah’s Motor Policies Ltd reading from a script, where he/she or I don’t really communicate, or care but I answer all the questions as honestly as I can and reach a compromise on price by pointing out I now live in a rural area, my car does not have low profile rims, and no, i’ve not added an airhorn.


Oh and my penalty period for my speeding offence expired a year ago.  Wouldn’t it be great if they just gave me their best price to start with?

In the same vein of ‘buyer beware’ is my friend whose just found out that although the crude oil prices were slashed this year it wasn’t reflected in the price she paid for heating oil.  So she’s been paying well over the odds because she didn’t realise it was a bartering exercise.  Apparently the game is they tell you a price, you laugh and walk away, they offer it cheaper.  They say it was quite legitimate because she “accepted the price”.  Apparently there’s no obligation for them to mention that the price went down or offer you the best deal.  You’re gullible, we’ll con you.

I wonder how many over 60’s in the UK, who aren’t computer literate get ripped off because they don’t use the web to check prices and find the best bargains.  I gather getting your SKY subscription reduced is as easy as taking candy from a baby.  I’m off to try it. I’ve honed my skills and I’m partial to a lolly.



Well its true….got our SKY subscription reduced from £99 per month to £66 by changing our package, removing stuff we don’t need and by telling them I’m old and I understand people are getting reduced tariffs left right and centre and we’ve never asked for anything.  I get to re-negotiate it again in October.  Downwards…

In the new dawn of 21st century bartering Martin Lewis is my new best friend. He of who has a brain like a micro processor, and a rate of delivery to match it, has opened my eyes to endless possibilities. He is a superhero. Currently his beef is parking fines, but in the past he’s saved us money on currency exchange rates when on holiday, tax benefits for married people,  how to get the best price for car insurance and for daughter number one a rebate of £400 by mentioning the mis-selling of Sentinel Gold Insurance. Oh and I’m positively salivating at the prospect of renegotiating my tariff with Vodafone…”do your homework, threaten to leave”.

You can follow his nuggets of wisdom quietly and calmly on his website, and I guarantee you’ll find something you can use to your advantage.  So armed with my newly found bartering skills I’ll find the courage at the next car boot sale to try some hard core bartering…”will you take 50p?”  Sorted.

One thought on “Bartering in the 21st Century

  1. So, corner shops: Did you ever watch Corrie in the early 1960s? I have it on video. The corner shop was for gossip – not shopping. Listen to Ena Sharples – her shopping was incidental to her gossip. Priceless, clever and funny. But I wouldn’t want to go back to those days. My shopping trip to Waitrose is like this: Park car, get trolley, put bags in trolley, pin shopping list to list holder, enter shop. Get zapper thing from zapper thing bay, do shopping – zap, zap, zap, zap putting items straight into bags … Go to self-service pay machine – zap, tap, swipe. Leave shop. I love it. I don’t have to pack, unpack, pack. I don’t have to make small talk with a helpful assistant – I can just shop and go.

    Insurance: There is a fabulous broker in Wymondham (Priory). Their prices are consistently lower than I can ever find on the interweb.


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