Bargaining tips for shopping abroad

March 7, 2010

By Judy McEuen
Travel Writer
Troy Media

Judy McEuen
Judy McEuen

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Mar. 7, 2010/ Troy Media/ – Whether you are planning to buy souvenirs or treasure on your vacation, in most of the world the price tag is only the starting point for bargaining. Haggling and arguing over the price is expected and in many counties it is almost an art form.

First of all, you need to determine if bargaining is appropriate. In most big department stores in Europe and America it usually isn’t. In other counties, you might ask if the price is firm. In street markets and small shops in most of the world, you’d be silly if you took the first price you were quoted.

You are not going to win

Next, remember that, no matter what bargaining tips we or anyone else gives you, you are not going to win this game. You are going to get the price down to a level you are happy with, and you are going to be pleased with it, but trust us, the merchant is going to make a profit or they wouldn’t be selling it to you.

If you do not want to haggle and buy don’t ask the price just out of curiosity. If you are interested in buying, see if you can determine what the locals pay. There is almost always be a double standard, with tourists paying way more even after haggling.

Do you really want this piece? If you do, then decide what is it worth to you.

Once you’ve made the decision to bargain, be respectful and polite. We’ve heard people make disparaging remarks about the item they want to purchase. We just don’t think that’s a successful bargaining tip.

Think about the asking price, and indicate it is too much. Don’t be embarrassed about counter offering too low a price: it’s all part of the game. Offer between a third and a half of the asking price. The merchant will laugh at you, but the game has begun.

You can have a friend or your spouse indicate that they don’t want to buy or that they’re worried about your budget. This might move negotiations faster, but, believe me, these merchants have seen all of those tricks, and they know just how to play it.

Don’t hurry if you’re serious about buying. Get to know the merchant and let him tell you about the item. Think carefully before you name each price. If the merchant says OK to a price, you must buy the item. This may seem like a game, but it is serious, and your honor is at stake: once a price has been accepted, you can’t say, “Never mind, I was just fooling around.”

Don’t be afraid to walk away

If you get down to your best price, and they say no, just walk away. Often they will finally meet your price rather than lose the sale. If they don’t run after you or call out one last price, they really won’t sell for that price.

Sometimes prices will fall further at the end of the day, but the price can only drop so much because the merchants will always need to make at least a little profit. After all, that’s only fair.

Our final bargaining tip is to bargain thoughtfully. Dickering over a price can be fun, some people even think of it as sport but don’t take it too far. In poor and developing counties, a few dollars will mean far more to the merchant and his family than it will to you.

Channels: The Calgary Beacon, March 7, 2010

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