Negotiating with sellers

Negotiating with sellers


In many countries buying things comes with the added activity of bartering and negotiating before settling on a price. For many European or American travellers, this can be a bit intimidating or frustrating, but here are some tips on how to make the most of any marketplace transaction. Whilst we are used to seeing a price and paying, that isn’t the way things work in all countries. Marketplaces and even some shops will be used to people trying to get a better deal.

Smile and be friendly – try and take it as a game or challenge, rather than as an affront on your intelligence or as evidence that everyone is out to rip you off. If you could make a month’s wage in a day, wouldn’t you give it a shot? Smile and be friendly, and if a seller gives you a ridiculous price just laugh and give him a ridiculously low counter-offer.

Do some research beforehand (but don’t get bitter) – ask around for an idea of normal prices of common souvenirs or food items, so that you know what a reasonable suggestion might be once you get haggling. However, don’t kick yourself if you can’t get it at the exact local price, these people have years of personal relationships and experience to hand, so obviously they will be better at haggling than you. Remember, exchange rates are usually unfairly biased in favour of western currencies, so a small difference for you might make a much larger impact for someone else.

Shop around – you are always free to walk away and go try somewhere else. In any case, walking away can also usually give the seller a big incentive for a last minute price drop. Don’t give a bad name to all other travellers, if you’re not getting anywhere then it’s fine to move on.

Learn some numbers in the local language (or take a calculator/pen and paper) – if you have large language barriers then obviously this can pose difficulties, particularly if they do not use roman numerals. If they do, then just take a calculator and use this to show the prices, if not, then try learning a few numbers. This will also make the sellers less likely to try taking you for a ride, as you have shown that you’re probably a bit more clued in than the average.

Good luck haggling and have a great time!

Date posted: 8th September, 2015

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