Bargaining… How to haggle with style and make it fun when your abroad!
I steer away from my British roots in the fact I absolutely love bargaining and haggling. For me, it’s an art. It’s a game. It should be taken lightly. Cross culture exchange is beautiful, and bargaining is something every traveller must learn…Here’s some tips I learned along the road, which helped me go a long way.
First up… The Shopping Experience.
Bargaining in some foreign countries is not done in a typical, western traditional way where you go in a shop and the price influences your decision before you look… change your frame of mind straight away. Bargaining and haggling is a completely different type of shopping experience. First you check out what you want, you select, then speak numbers.
Keep your cool.
A very important rule to begin… Even if you think they’re getting the better of you, always smile and be friendly. You must not show anger or create an audience in the shop – because this will not favour your price, nor will it build a good relationship with the shopkeeper. It may negatively affect your bargaining stand so it’s pretty important to:
Build a Rapport.
The best advice. Make sure you build a friendly rapport with the salesman: maybe they ask you which country you are from, what your name is… etc. Ask them questions too. I find when I start to ask the salespeople ice-breaking questions it throws them off slighty as they are not used to it. It stands you out from the other tourists and you get to know someone a little better!
NOTE: If you can speak a little of the local language, it goes a long way! Not only in bargaining abroad – but it all your travels. Speaking other languages has made a huge positive difference in my life! If you’re interested in learning languages quickly and effectively I recommend checking out this informative e-book, where it reveals all the tricks and tips to learning languages, it’s pretty cool as it gives you a bunch of other benefits as well!
Take your time.
Look at many things, not just one, don’t show too much interest in your desired object. They may want to show you more and more of the things they have, go ahead have a look, take your time. Shopping this way is less stressful if you go with it, it’s about the whole experience. Buying quickly does not help your bargaining expertise.
Do NOT ask for the price straight away.
I have to mention this again, it’s very important, I’ve seen many tourists make this very mistake. They go in, asking price after price after price. This is not how it’s done. First, you must know what you are looking for. If the shop has it, let the salesman tell you about it. Listen to his pitch, not only is it polite but it’s part of the game. Only when you are ready to buy – and only then, speak numbers.
Leave thinking time.
When you’re taking your time and you’re considering a final offer, leave a dramatic pause. Sometimes they fill the silence for you and you can get a bit more knocked off for good measure.
Have your price sorted.
Have an idea of what you’ll pay in your head, your maximum for the item. You’ll have an idea of how much things are worth, because you’ve already checked out the local currency. See tips for cheap travel and all will be explained.
Don’t feel guilty…
In most cultures you’re not obligated to buy and you don’t have to feel guilty if you genuinely don’t want the goods. Obviously don’t waste people’s time, but have an idea of what you are looking for, if they don’t have it, thank them for their time and leave.
Buying more than one?
If you decide to get more than one thing from a shop, haggle the first thing down as low as possible, then maybe you can get further discounts for multiple purchases. Particularly at the last-minute multiple buys can make for great bargaining discounts.
Watch your language.
Be assertive. This is very important. If you ‘umm’ and you’re not sure, it won’t help you at all during your bargaining time. Have a positive mind-set, know what you want and go and get it. No language like ‘ would X amount be OK? “Can I get you a little lower please?” more like ”OK I’ll give you X amount and that seems fair to me”, or ”Knock some more off the price and I’ll pay you in cash right now…” PLUS when you’re giving your final price, nod slightly. Encourage them to agree with you. Get used to doing it, it’s a fine art.
Keep your money hidden.
Never, ever get your money out until the very end of the bargaining fun! Don’t show them, especially if your bargaining for something small and you have a heap of cash in your wallet. When I travel I tend to leave the smaller notes up the top of my wallet or in another place for easy accessibility.
Remember not to take this too far, it’s a game to you and people need to make a living after all- you just don’t want to pay 5 times the amount for your things. Actually if I’m honest about it, all around India every time I went into a shop, I put on a very extreme Israeli accent. The top dogs of bargaining in my opinion. I could see the face drop of the shop merchants when I said this, preparing themselves for some bargaining fun! I love the interaction of haggling.
Have fun with it, there is nothing more satisfying than the feeling that you’ve just made a great deal! Have you ever got a great bargain to your haggling skills? Have you ever had a bad experience in a bargaining market abroad?
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