Bartering is considered an art by many and a dreaded necessity by others. Regardless, if you’re heading abroad you’ll need to know the common mistakes NOT to make when haggling.
In many countries haggling or bartering is the norm so vendors will often state their prices higher than the actual value.
Even if you don’t feel comfortable negotiating over prices, if you don’t learn some basic bartering lessons, you’ll end up paying much more than you should!
Here are 12 things you should most definitely NOT do when bartering:
1) Pick stores where the price is non-negotiable
Whilst street vendors and smaller stores welcome and expect bartering, department stores often do not. Find out where it is accepted and where the price tag is just a suggestion.
2) Guess at the value of an item
Do your research by finding out from locals how much they pay for an item and how much you can expect to pay. Hostel and hotel desks will often know this information.
3) Bring large bills only
There’s nothing worse than negotiating a great deal only to find out that the vendor conveniently doesn’t have change for you. Bring small bills!
4) Show interest in the product
If it is a really unique item or the vendor knows you really want it the price automatically goes up. Be aloof and prepared to walk away.
5) Keep bartering even when the price goes lower than what you were willing to pay
In many cultures once the seller enters the bartering process they will continue until an agreement is made even if it means “losing face.”
If you have reached the price that you thought was fair it’s time to make a purchase.
The goal isn’t for the vendor to make as little money as possible but for you to reach a fair price.
6) Use anger as a scare tactic
Bartering still follows the general rules of etiquette. Be warm and polite. It’s perfectly fine to laugh at the first offer and take pleasure in the encounter.
You’re more likely to get a better price if the vendor has taken a shine to you.
When the transaction is complete thank the person for their time.
7) Let a local help you negotiate
If someone in the market approaches you for help kindly decline.
This person will usually be working on commission and will steer you to the stores where they can make money by encouraging you to pay too much.
8) Only look in one store
If you see an interesting souvenir it’s likely that you’ll find it in many stalls.
You can let the vendor know that you’re aware of the price in a nearby stall and that they’re not your only option.
9) Barter for everything
Every traveler has a moment where they realize they were arguing over a monetary difference that meant nothing to them but a lot to the seller.
It can be easy to get caught up in the process but is bartering over ten cents for a banana really worth it?
I’m ashamed to admit that I did that in the Philippines. Don’t make that same mistake.
10) Barter alone
If you can, bring a friend along to play good cop/bad cop especially if it’s your first time.
A friend may be more comfortable voicing that they aren’t sure if you should buy it or they think it may be too much.
11) Walk away if the price is ridiculously high
This is not an insult. The rule of thumb is that you counter offer 50% of the initial price and settle around 60%.
Vendors know that guides and hotels give tourists this advice and price accordingly, which is why it’s important to heed the advice of Tip 2 and know the fair price to pay.
12) Don’t barter
In some countries they take joy in bartering and may even be offended if you don’t try.
My friend went shopping on his first night in Bangkok. He felt uncomfortable bartering so accepted the first offer of $7 for a t-shirt.
The woman felt so bad she told him to only give her $4!
What’s been your experience of haggling? Good? Bad? Post up your comments below, I want to hear from you!
If you liked this, you might also like: 6 Money Lessons I Learned Whilst Traveling.