The Hidden Cost of Bargaining: Evidence from a Cheating‐Prone Marketplace
28 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2020
Date Written: August 2020
It is widely believed that successful bargaining helps consumers increase their surplus. We present evidence from a field experiment showing that bargaining over price reduces buyer surplus in a marketplace where sellers cheat on the weight whose value may more than offset the price discount. Our results show that bargaining entails hidden costs since sellers cheat significantly more when buyers bargain than not and they cheat significantly more when bargaining succeeds than fails. Overall bargaining reduces buyer surplus than not bargaining. Our result is relevant for credence goods markets where bargaining over prices may induce sellers to “undertreat” more.
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