How to bargain

There are some countries in the world where bargaining over the price of an item is the norm. If you are not used to this do not worry about it and do not feel uncomfortable about it; it is all part of the local shopping experience. Here are a few tips to help you.

Understanding pricing

Shopkeepers and market-stall holders will tell you the price they would like you to pay. This is not normally what they expect to get for the item, but a slightly higher price, as they are expecting to bargain. With this same thinking in mind your initial price needs to be lower than you are actually prepared to pay. Half of the shopkeeper’s price is often a good place to start.

The art of compromise

The shopkeeper will normally inch down from his initial price and you should creep up from your original lower offer. Listen to his bargaining and increase your offer in similar increments. Ultimately you should meet roughly in the middle of the two initial prices.

Things to remember when bargaining

1. Do not bargain if you are not interested in buying something.

It is fine to ask a price, but do not start to debate the price unless you want the item. It will be seen as time-wasting, an activity that is frowned upon worldwide.

2. Be polite and friendly.

There is nothing wrong with a little light-hearted competition but this business is someone’s livelihood. If they will not go as low as the price you want to pay for something perhaps it is because they are far better at bargaining than you, but it may also be because the price you are offering them is below what it costs them.

3. Know the currency.

Many a mistake has been made attempting to understand what you are paying for something. Before you venture into a shopping situation abroad, always have a few benchmark prices in your head that are translated into a currency you are familiar with.

4. Try to have money in small denominations.

This is especially important if you are in a market environment. It is just easier.

If you’re still not confident about bargaining, perhaps Monty Python can help. This is the haggling scene from the film The Life of Brian and one of my favourites. If you haven’t seen the film, Brian is on the run from the Romans and also, where have you been?

Do you enjoy bargaining whilst shopping? What have been your experiences?


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