In our modern-day corporate world, haggling is something that many of us are not accustomed to. We’re used to huge chain stores whose prices are set by men in suits a billion miles away. There’s no point negotiating with the cashier because any discount they give comes out of their own pocket. When we go abroad, sometimes the rules can change. With many holiday expenses like flights and hotels savings can easily be made by simply using comparison sites like Momondo. However, if you want to make savings on many of the items you buy after landing, you should learn how to haggle. In some countries, it’s downright expected of you. So how do you do it?
Do a little research before you go to see what is expected of shoppers. Haggling is the norm in the Middle East, but not so common in Germany. It pays to be aware of haggling etiquette. Some merchants may be offended if you try to haggle over certain items.
Learn dirty arithmetic for currency conversion so you can quickly work out the value of an offer. For example, right now £1 is about $1.50, so you can easily convert £20 into $30. You don’t want to win an argument only to discover your math is wrong.
Choose your target
Smaller shops are more likely to respond well. Jewellery and electronics are often hugely overpriced, so the merchant can afford a discount. If you’re not sure, it rarely hurts to try. The only exception is if you’re visiting a less developed part of the world. The merchant may rely on slim profits to support their family and it may not be ethical to argue a price. In most other situations, the worst that can happen is you’re turned down.
This one should be a no-brainer, but people are more likely to do something for you if they like you. So if you’re not already friendly to people, now’s a good time to start! Chat with them and ask questions about them. Knowing a bit of the local language goes a long way too. It could even throw them off their game and make them easier to haggle with.
The haggle itself
Decide the most you’re willing to pay and DO NOT pay more than that. Be cool. Don’t show too much enthusiasm for an item. Don’t get your money out until you pay and don’t begin by asking for the price. Be direct. If you’re not sure what to say, pretend to be thinking. Never underestimate the value of the dramatic pause. Merchants usually try to fill the silence and you may find the price go down by itself. If it’s not working, just walk away. It’s a risky move, but it might force a merchant to play their hand.
Confidence is key to a good haggle, which is something that only comes with experience. Be brave and be a stickler for good value.
Author: Mark Pitt