What is This?
For Americans, haggling is not an everyday thing. It might not even be an every-year thing. It can be a hard concept for the average American to grasp. So, what is it? It’s the process of bargaining over the cost of a good or service. The vendor says the price is $100, and you say it’s $10. Both of you go back and forth until an agreement is made. This is very different from how we make everyday purchases in the States. Almost always, we pay price the store tells us. When you travel, this is only the case part of the time. If the country you are in has big department stores, you probably won’t haggle very much there. However, you will do a lot of haggling in places that have small merchant shops and open-air markets. Sometime you will snag a deal and others will be a bust.
Now that you know what haggling is all about, I think I should provide you with some tips. There are many things you can do in order to become a master negotiator. Here are a few of the strategies I use. First, I make sure I know the value of money. When in a foreign country, the exchange rate can play a major role in determining value. For example, you can get almost 7 Chinese Renminbi to 1 US dollar. Therefore, I should know that a price of 700 renminbi is equal to about $100. That’s an amazing deal for a computer, but a terrible deal for a refrigerator magnet. Second, I always ask for the vendor’s price first. This gives you a great starting point. Combining this with my first tip, you should be able to provide a proper counteroffer.
As a side note, there are many countries that try to take advantage of Americans. You just need to be stern and stand your ground on the pricing. This leads me to my third point. Don’t be afraid to walk away. The shopkeeper needs to sell their products in order to make a living. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been chased by vendors after I’ve walked away from them. I usually say, “I think your neighbor is interested in making money. I’ll go buy from them instead.” Finally, I like to bundle my deals. Often times, I will buy more than one thing from the same shop. Instead of haggling for one item, I negotiate on several at one time. By doing this, I can incrementally lower the price of each item since the overall sale is larger. This technique has worked really well for me.
I’ve had several experiences bargaining for souvenirs. Almost all of them have gone according to plan. I know I can write about all of my amazing deals. It’s my blog though, and I can do what I want. Nonetheless, I think people enjoy reading more about your mishaps. Most recently, I was in China with my wife, Bri. As it’s fun to travel with the people you love, it isn’t always fun to go haggling with them. You need to make sure they are up to the task. Sadly, Bri was not. She likes to live the simple life. Tell her how much something cost, and she will gladly pay it. There’s no need for her to “waste” time going back and forth with someone on the price of an item. It’s okay though. My wife is really hot. She’s earned the right to sit back and look pretty.
Due to the shopkeepers being like wolves, they can sniff out a weak link. I’d be negotiating a deal and she would say, “I think that is a good deal.” The vendor would say, “See, the lady like the price. Let make a deal.” After I calmed down Monty Hall, I had to work past a ridiculously high price. In order to accomplish this, I did two things. One, I stood my ground. I kept the conversation going while decreasing the price. Certainly, it wasn’t what I wanted to pay, but at least I walked away with a better deal. The second thing was to coach her a bit. I gave her a choice of either staying quiet or saying a few phrases. The phrases consisted of “that’s too much” and “I think the other vendor has a cheaper price.” This strategy definitely helped with all of our future bargaining.