Here’s how I negotiated: using expired tickets to enter a theme park


I went to Universal Studios with these tickets. They were expired a week before I went. No, I didn’t pull a sleight of hand, David Blaine street magic crap. All I did was call the company.


You might be asking what’s the value of practicing in situations like this? I want to negotiate the big stuff! Well, you don’t get to be a Premier League level player without first having practiced your trade in the lower leagues. You don’t get to be a Jedi Master without going through padawan-ship.

You can’t just read about negotiation. The real world will put you on the spot, reject you, make you uncomfortable. A big part of negotiation is understanding how you react to these situations. Things that a book can’t teach you.

Get to the table

Last week, I shared how most people lose before they even get to the table. They’ve already convinced themselves that they can’t possibly negotiate before they start. Most people look at an expired ticket like this and give up immediately. Why give up before you even get a “no”?

So, I called Resort Worlds Sentosa and asked if I could use the expired tickets.

Here’s how the conversation went:

Me: Hi, I’m holding on to a pair of 6 month U.S.S tickets which has just expired. I would like to use them this weekend. Is that possible?
Customer Service: I’m sorry sir, according to our Terms and Conditions, 6 month passes cannot be used by the expiry date.

Me: I understand that, but I really want to bring my wife there, and this is her first visit to U.S.S
Customer Service: I’m sorry sir, but the T&C is quite clear and I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do.

Me: All right, is there someone else you can forward me to who can help me out? I couldn’t go last week because I was down with a cold.

Be comfortable with rejection.

The customer service officer rejected me twice, very firmly too I might add, in this short conversation. I was beginning to feel like this conversation wasn’t going my way. It’s hard for most of us to deal with rejection. Frankly, I wanted nothing more than to hang up.

How comfortable are you with rejection?

Find the right person to talk to

In this case, the tickets had expired and the customer service officer was perfectly right in turning me away.

A company usually don’t empowered customer service officers to approve unusual requests like mine. In this case, she was acting as gate-keeper to turn the crazies away. That’s why I asked if she could forward my request to someone else.

Give them a reason to say yes

It’s hard for someone to say yes to if you don’t at least give them a reason to. In Influence, the Psychology of Persuasion, there’s a study where an experimenter asked people waiting for the Xerox machine to let her go first.

These were the results:

  • “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” [60% of the time, people agreed]
  • “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?” [94% of the time, people agreed]
  • “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I have to make copies?”[93% of the time, people agreed]

“Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I have to make copies?” isn’t even a good reason. Of course, you needed to make copies if you’re at the copier!

It’s the same like how a cold last week shouldn’t have excluded me from going in the 6 months prior. The key was providing a reason, a way for the person to say yes.

The lesson here is simple: Give people a reason to say yes. Always.

In summary these are 3 principles of negotiation you can apply:

Get to that table first.

Most people convince themselves not to negotiate. . “I don’t want to be an angry” or “I don’t like to shout at people”. An effective negotiator is rarely angry. Anger merely clouds your judgement. Instead they are calm, and always looking for angles in a situation they can use “We’re close, I think we just need to close the gap”. Not “PAY ME WHAT I WANT! I hate you! Please die!”

Be honest, the real reason most people don’t negotiate is because they feel uncomfortable doing it.

Practice everyday.

Recruitment managers negotiate all day. How do you think you’ll match up if it’s your first salary negotiation? Start off small, in a real-world environment. Try negotiating deals at the furniture expo (you can save a ton). Download Carousell an try negotiating a deal with some of the sellers.

By the time you get to the real negotiation, the one that matters, you’ll have several negotiations under your belt. The difference can be worth thousands.

Know who you’re negotiating with.

There are many times in your life when you might think that your negotiating with a decision maker. But the person’s really just a gate-keeper. ”

No, I can’t do that” is different from “No, it can’t be done”. Appreciate that difference

PS: If you like to know more about negotiation…

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  1. Frederick Ho says:

    Well done. Successful people won’t take ‘No’ for an answer. They persist and insist. Keep those articles coming!

  2. Good post.

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