Negotiation Tactic #97 – Scrambled Eggs

Summary: Providing the final terms of the negotiation only to change them last minute.

A counterpart might use the Scrambled Eggs tactic to confuse you and your decision-making process. Sometimes facts and figures are used; other times, false information is provided.

A salesman is adding up the cost of some furniture. The buyer says she does not want to spend more than $3,000 for the four pieces she is interested in purchasing. The salesman adds up the prices and says the total comes to only $2,800. But when the paperwork is completed, the salesman claims that he has made a $200 error. Once tax and delivery fees are added in, the total is over $3,000.

In a second example, a person selling a car uses facts and figures, such as Kelley Blue Book prices, to establish the value of his vehicle. He shares the bottom-line figures with a potential buyer, neglecting to point out that the price he is quoting is for a car with lower mileage. His hope is that the buyer won’t ask for proof or a breakdown of figures.


In the first example, the buyer could expose the furniture salesman’s tactic, saying that she believes the salesman is deliberately trying to deceive her.

In the second example, the car buyer should ask to see the Kelley Blue Book to verify the numbers, and then point out the discrepancy.

In either example, These Boots Are Made for Walking would also be effective.

Have you used or encountered this tactic in your negotiations? If so, how’d it go?

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