Is obligatory haggling a myth or a friendly tourist advice? Is it really a cardinal sin if we show some interest and than flee away after we talked about price? Let’s review this!
Haggling for a price is a tradition in Turkey, Egypt, China and everywhere that legacy of trade meets the touristic enthusiasm and nosiness. Its not the law or even obligatory, but it’s rude to walk away or not to play the game correctly. Why? Well above all because it’s not about money it’s about socializing.
So to the game of haggle the same rules apply as to visiting someone’s home. Be polite, be respectful and some charm and humor won't kill you.
If you like to wonder the colorful markets, don’t be afraid to look or even show some interest, but if you start playing one of the oldest social games, be sure you know basic rules.
Basic rules of the game of haggle
To many shopkeepers and their salesmen market is not just their job, is their way of life, their way of providing for their family and earning not just some bucks but also respect of the society. It’s their home.
When you enter one’s shop or approach to one’s stand put on your best smile, don’t be afraid to complement their work, shop or English. Don’t be rude and find some better excuse for not buying something than “Oh, I can find better price than this.”
True haggles are kind, charming, funny and know when to be honest and when a good liar. If you still don’t know the market very well, tell him that. Say that you’ll be back if his offer is fair. (Don’t say that it should be the best, because that would be rude like you would say to your mother that you will be back next time if someone wont prepare you a better meal.)
If the haggling goes well there is a possibility that shopkeeper will offer you some tea or sweets. It would be rude to say no to that offer, not to mention stupid. Best prices are talked in the back of the store and you will know the salesman better – his culture and his marketing strategy. Remember – You are there for that, which money can’t buy.
Know your market know your pocket
If you don’t know the market yet, indulge in some stroll, watch and make some mental notes which products couth your eye. Don’t show what you want, take your time and listen the way salesmen are doing their magic. Try to get some filing about the prices and their way.
When knowing what you want, ask as many questions about the product before you start talking money. It will show him, that you know what you are doing. Kindly asking about heritage of carpets, the material of shoes, or about his favorite recipe for some new spices will take you far.
Half of the bargain battle for the best price is won at the beginning. Don’t fall for his trick and talk about money first. He should set the first price, never you. If his price is far to high for your pocket, rather admit that, than just shoot some very low number. He will think that you don’t know the market or that you are not serious. If you really can’t afford to buy a specific product, it’s better not to even start. Don’t be afraid to walk away if the price is too high for you.
Second trick is that you set your price just a bit lower than you imagine what the price should be. You won’t be able to go bellow your fist price and probably the final price will still be a bit higher – even if you are a true master of haggle.
Don’t be too early, don’t be too late
Timing is more important when haggling that you’ve might think. In the morning salesmen that are working for their shopkeepers still have a long way to their daily quota - basis of their payment.
The evening is the safest bet that salesmen will be less aggressive yet still flexible, since they still want to increase the daily wage. Try to be there just in time for their afternoon tea…
Give him the offer he can’t refuse
When haggling is going to the end – meaning salesman already significantly reduced price and you still aren’t satisfied, you could try to divert his attention to second bargain. Find a good reason for lowering the price even more. Suggest you are willing to pay that price if he gives you something for free, or you will buy two products if he reduces the price for additional 30%.
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