Fididel Brings Haggling Online; It's Weird

Some people really love to haggle. There’s always that feeling that you’ve somehow gotten away with something, even if you could have gotten the same deal at a store down the street.

Fididel, which launches today, is trying to bring that same rush to online shopping. Sellers can post their wares to the site, where they can haggle with potential buyers in real time. For sellers who don’t want to sit at the computer all day, the site offerers Fididelers – trained members who will haggle for you on commission (the more a product sells for, the more they get). To become a Fidideler, members must go through Fidideler University, where they are trained in the finer points of negotiation.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find the whole concept to be pretty strange. The thrill of haggling comes from personal interaction, not just the hunt for a low price. My mock Fididel session over an iPod consisted of clicking pre-written variations of “Still too expensive” repeatedly, until the seller held firm for a few minutes (see screenshot). I guess it was more fun than Craigslist or eBay, but it didn’t exactly test my powers of persuasion.

To be fair, I’m probably not the site’s target audience. There’s a chance that Fididel will catch on with some people, though I’m not sure who. Perhaps it will appeal to those who are too timid to negotiate in person, or to people who find retail to be dull. I’m also wondering how scalable this system is. I’m sure Fididelers out to make a few bucks will be easy to come by at first, but interest will wane unless they are well compensated.

Fididel was founded by Hal Wendell and has received funding from Quest Venture Partners.