Haggling is an art, learn it!
In western society, haggling a lower price than advertised is not a common endeavour. That’s why it can seem so difficult and sometimes uncomfortable to do, no matter where you are. But hopefully this post will give you a bit of insight into how and why you should haggle!
So, you’re likely to be shopping at local stalls, shops and business’ where you will be paying a ‘tourist’ price. It doesn’t take much to get this price down a little, or a lot if you really master haggling!
So have a little read over the few tips I have provided below and give it a try!
Tip 1 – Talk and Walk
This is the easiest form of haggling. All you need to do is simply ask the price, and then when they give you one make it look like you’re considering it, decline and walk away. More often than not, the seller will instantly give you a reduced price when you start to walk away. This new price could be 10%, 20%, or even 50% off, with some extreme cases beyond half price. It’s at this point they know you’re not willing to pay that price, and to them a missed sale is worse than selling at a discounted price.
This method will give you some confidence in dealing with shop owners and will get you into the swing of haggling. It’s so simple and easy but don’t ‘practise’ this with no intention to buy the item, don’t waste their time.
Tip 2 – Cut that price in half
If you don’t do the ‘Talk and Walk’ method or it doesn’t work, then this next tip should help to drive down that over-inflated price. Again, ask the price, and immediately cut that price in half. They’ll say no 9 times out of 10. But at this stage you’re at a good price to start rising. Here, you have room to move since going up from half price really isn’t breaking the bank.
Remember, they want as much profit as possible, and you want as much discount as possible.
Tip 3 – Have a sense of humour
Often the seller will shut any act of haggling down with a statement telling you this is the price and that’s final. Fair enough, move on. There will be plenty more sellers who will happily sell at a lower price a couple of meters away or even around the next corner. No problem, if you’re willing to haggle, you’re not that desperate!
So, with that said – go into the negotiation with a sense of humour and an understanding that you may not get the price you are willing to pay. So smile, be polite and try to have a laugh with the seller. Maybe learn some local phrases. This will go along way.
If you come across aggressive, the feeling and attitude will be reciprocated and you will most likely close down any deal you were working towards. If they’re aggressive and/or rude, then find another seller. Don’t give them any of your money if they wish to treat a customer like that.
Tip 4 – Ask for a discount before stating your price.
I will often start the process with “I want this, can you do me a deal?”. It’s to the point, lets the seller know I want to pay less and engages a dialogue that can be opened up to more personal conversation and linking in Tip 3.
The answer will either be Yes or No – or, phrased differently. But from here you can decide whether to continue the haggle or leave. However, when you ask this question, you are limiting yourself to a discount that really has no more room for negotiating. They offered you a deal, At this stage you start to see how simple the process really can be. Again, they have inflated prices not only for maximum profit from naive tourists but also so they have room for those who haggle.
What Not To Do
So, im going to keep this part simple as you should really already have an idea of what not to do when haggling.
- Don’t get aggressive
- Don’t start stupidly low, give them something to work with
- Don’t haggle in stores such as 7/11…
- Don’t haggle at the end of the interaction when they’re bagging you purchase
- Don’t give in too easily
So Why Haggle?
Haggling is common practice in Asian countries. It’s not frowned upon or unwelcomed, but be wary that some do not wish to offer a lower price.
You’re a tourist – like it or not, call yourself some variation of the word, the end of the day you’re a tourist in their eyes. So they will expect one of two things;
- You’re naive and don’t haggle/know how to/want to. Therefore will put their prices up to make a lot more money out of you.
- You’re going to haggle so they need a buffer. They anticipate the haggle and will give themselves room to move if you start lowering their price.
So, at the end of the day its a blend of not being taken advantage of/being ripped off and saving a bit of money in process.
Personal Experience of Extreme Haggling
We needed a taxi/tuk tuk to get to our hostel from where the bus had dropped us. One member of the group was a known haggler. He was ruthless and successful. I had a lot to learn from him.
The way it ended up we needed two tuk tuks, so they offered us the price of $5 each tuk tuk – not bad personally. However, Ben, as I shall call him, was adamant that we were to pay no more than $1 total. 10% of the original price!
I was thinking this is impossible, no way would they oblige to such a ridiculous offer. But he insisted that the only money he… we had left was $1 since we had just arrived from Vietnam and had no US Dollar. He did offer up a small, almost offensive amount of Vietnamese Dong to which they accepted!
Now, after a couple of days in Cambodia and getting to learn the culture, history and economy here – I soon realised that the US Dollar is extremely prevalent. So much so they preferred it over their own currency, the Cambodian Riel.
So, hopefully you picked up a few pieces of information and can put it into practise when you’re in SE Asia, good luck!