Haggle Your Way to a Great Deal
Haggling isn’t just a money-saving strategy — it’s a way of life in many countries. Score a deal with these haggling how-to tips
Whether you’re cruising the flea market in a local town or visiting a bustling market in a far-flung destination, here are some tips to get the best price.
Be prepared to do a little research if you want the best deals. If you can, try to find out:
– What to expect. How business is conducted and what is generally expected of buyers and sellers? What are the local customs? For instance, making a counter offer that’s half the asking price is the norm in some countries, but would be insulting to a flea market vendor here at home.
– What to look for. What does the store, market or area specialize in? Is there a certain craft or specialty item the area is famous for? What items are cheaper there than at home?
– How to spot quality. Beware that vendors often try to take advantage of tourists or other people who aren’t “in the know”. Can you spot shoddy goods from good quality, or a imitation versus the genuine article? The more you know, the better you can talk price.
In addition, if you’re shopping abroad make sure you’re familiar with the local currency and aim to learn some of the local language before your trip — especially vocabulary related to sales and numbers.
Where can you find this information? Try government travel advice and consult a good travel guide for a start.
Make sure it’s safe — and legal
Get the lay of the land
It can be difficult to gage the fair market value of an item until you’re in the area — that’s why it’s important to do some comparison shopping before you buy. Peruse the entire market, fair or shopping area to get a sense of selection and prices. It can’t hurt your negotiating skills to know that someone down the way has similar (but cheaper) offerings. You can even play one vendor against another.
A note of caution: here at home, it’s the norm for sales staff to greet customers as they enter the store. However, in markets around the world, greetings are often an indication to start the haggling process. If you’re not ready to talk price, there’s no need to exchange pleasantries.
Know your numbers
Once you have an idea of the value of an item, settle on a number or a range that you’re willing to pay before you start the bargaining process.
Don your poker face
A little deception is part of the negotiation dance. You won’t get a good price if it’s obvious that you’re eager to buy. It’s okay to be a little standoffish at first, or claim that an item is too expensive. Laugh, or feign astonishment — or even walk away if you have to. Let the vendor tempt you back.
Likewise, a seller may use similar tactics on you. Don’t be discouraged if a salesperson walks off or gives you the silent treatment — chances are that he or she will be back.
However, experts warn there’s one deception everyone should avoid: pretending you’re interested in an item you have no intention of buying. Haggling can be fun, but lost time means lost revenue for a vendor.
If you do change your mind part way through the process, just say, “no thank you” and leave. There’s no need to offer any explanations — they could be interpreted as a further bargaining tactic or attempt to mock the vendor.
Aim for the win-win situation
Your ultimate goal? Experts agree the middle ground is usually a good place to land. While you don’t want to be overcharged, you don’t want to exploit the seller either. After all, sellers need to earn a decent living and deserve fair treatment. Remember, with relative currency rates what seems like a small discount to a traveller could make a big difference to a vendor. In addition, your cash is supporting the local economy — especially in developing countries.
What should your final number look like? There are no set rules — it depends on the location, the item and the circumstances. Bear in mind that some experts warn when shopping abroad you shouldn’t end up paying more than half of the original asking price. In North America, the margins are much slimmer.