Bargaining, or haggling, is a way of life in many cultures. It is considered a normal and often expected part of any shopping experience. For many people, including me, this process can be somewhat uncomfortable. Will they be insulted if I bargain? How low is too low?
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Bargaining, on the other hand, can be graciously and successfully done if it is looked more as a social event that could lead you to the best price possible.
Here are some tips that will improve your bargaining skills while keeping it casual and friendly with the locals:
6. Be friendly
Always keep it cool and polite, and be respectful with the merchant all the time. Casually mention that you’d be happy to refer friends if they will work with you on lowering the price.
7. Practice a little on inexpensive items
Before you go for the big items, practice bargaining a little on things that you are less attached and can therefore walk away if need be.
8. Don’t make the first offer
Ask first what’s their best price on the item you’re interested in. Posing this simple, straightforward question nudges the seller to make the first offer. If you state a starting price, you hurt your bargaining power because the amount can only go up from there. If the seller declines to answer, then start really low or at less than half the marked price.
9. Decide how much you’re willing to spend on an item
Before starting your haggling, decide what will be maximum price you are willing to pay for that item. This will help you focus on the bargaining and when the price goes over what you want to pay, walk away.
10. Don’t be afraid to walk away
If the price goes too high, give a final offer. If it doesn’t work, be friendly; thank them for their time, and walk away slowly looking at other items. Many times you will get called back with the final offer you made. Sometimes you won’t, but you can either hop around other stalls and shops or just resign and pay the lowest price they offered.
11. Always think of it more like a cultural experience rather than just shopping
No matter how much you haggle or what price you end up paying, always approach the haggling process as a way to experience the character of the souks, bazaars, and street markets from around the world. This is a lively activity that often gives us a taste of their culture and way of life.
Its true that we want to get things the cheapest possible, but remember, in many cases, every cent that you spend on them goes directly to their living and to feed their family. Sometimes spending a few more dollars than what we want actually does some good in this world, especially in poorer countries.