Erin’s Guide to Haggling

She's thinking: "Come. Make my day." Sumatra

She’s thinking, “Come. Make my day.” Sumatra

Q. To Haggle or not to Haggle?
A. Haggle!
Half the fun of buying something is paying half price for it. I’m definitely one of those people who tell you the price I paid whenever I receive a compliment. “Like my bracelet?” I only paid $4 for it in Uruguay!”

Make no mistake, haggling is a true art form in many countries. In places like China, Kenya, and Brazil, you’ll actually insult the proprietor if you don’t engage in this back and forth repartee.

Think of haggling as a great way to interact with your local hosts and don’t worry about insulting them. Believe me, they won’t sell the item to you if it’s not a good price for them.

I haggle for everything: taxi rides, hotel rooms, all souvenir gifts. I don’t haggle for food. I’d hate to get that day-old piece of fish just to save 10 cents.
Haggling is not only fun, it's expected. Here village women ply   their handcrafts. Ecuador highlands. Here’s my cut-throat approach to shopping:
  • • Case the entire market to get a good idea of what’s available, general pricing and what’s unique.
  • • Decide beforehand how much you’re willing to pay for a item
  • • Ask your travel buddies if they want to purchase similar items, if so you can buy in bulk and receive a better price
  • • Ask “How much?” first
  • • Say “That’s too much!” — “Tai gui!” in Chinese
  • • Walk away, if they come after you and ask how much you’re willing to pay, cut the price in half
  • • Walk away, if they come to get you again, you’re in business
  • • If the shopkeeper won’t come down anymore on price, ask for something for free, like “I’ll buy these 3 paintings, if you throw in that piece of pottery”
  • • Thank the shopkeeper after the sale and say how much you’ll enjoy the item
  • • Enjoy the item!

Haggling is not only fun, it’s expected. Village women ply their handcrafts, highlands of Ecuador

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 13th, 2009 and is filed under Shopping & Fashion.

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