For many of us, the only real-life experience we’ve had haggling is buying a used car, so
when we travel abroad and need to negotiate prices in the local market it can really freak us
out. Don’t worry fellow amigos! The art of haggling is a skill you can learn and master before
your next trip with a few simple tactics you can negotiate so you A) won’t feel like a fool and
B) won’t get ripped off.
Paying a sticker price, adding tax, using a credit card or a self-swipe checkout station is
unheard of in many parts of the world where the everyday practice is all about the art of
haggling prices on transport, food and general goods. Not only is haggling an essential travel
skill you can use while on tour but it is also an important part of social respect and cultural
interaction. You’ll be able to use your ace haggling skills in street markets and outdoor stalls,
local shops and independent marketplaces
The Goal of Haggling
If you don’t haggle you are paying too much and losing money. The aim is to make the final
price fair for you and the merchant so you can walk away feeling satisfied and the retailer
can make enough money to support his or her business.
Know The Exchange Rate
This is the first rule of haggling. If you are negotiating and have no idea that you’re avoiding
a purchase over the equivalent of $1 then you are in trouble before you started.
Haggling: Round One
The list price or initial quote is where negotiations start. Don’t accept this. If you do then
you’re naively announcing that you’re a rookie foreigner. If you already have an idea of the
market price of a product or service then you should compare it to the initial offer. The local
merchant will recognise that you are prepared to barter. If you don’t have an idea of the
item’s value then take a few moments to shop around other vendors and see what the xxx It
is unlikely that this will be the only stall in the village selling that one item.
Haggling: Round Two
Now that you have an idea of the market price and counter with a price well under what you
are willing to pay. Prepare yourself for the vendor to ‘appear’ to be offended. Don’t freak out,
this is all part of the haggling process that happens across the world millions of times a day.
Haggling: Round Three
The vendor will counter with a higher price. At this point increase your original bid to the
actual price you had in mind. Your goal is to get a reasonable price.
If the vendor stalls negotiations and refuses your offer then act frustrated, throw up your
hands and walk away. There are hundreds of vendors in the market and many selling the
exact item you want so the possibility of completely losing a transaction to the competing
stall next door will often have the vendor beckoning your bartering skills back with the offer of
a lowered price. Now you’re back in the game!
Name The Competition
Use this tried-and-true haggling technique of mentioning the competition’s price and show
that you are willing to take your business elsewhere. Combine with the ‘walk away’ and see
what kind of negotiation ensues.
Make The Purchase
By this point, you’ve bartered your bum off and it’s time to close the deal. Exchange your
money for the goods and there you have it. You’ve haggled like a pro.
Tour Amigo’s Hot Tips & Strategies For Haggling
Don’t go buy an item from the first shop. Instead, browse other sellers to compare
Keep in mind the product’s market value and availability.
Decide your absolute price limit before negotiating.
Maintain a poker face during negotiations and try to remain calm otherwise, the
merchant will know how badly you want the item and keep the price high.
Closely examine and assess the item you want to purchase. This shows the
merchant you are a serious customer and you know what you are looking for.
If there is an imperfection on the product be sure to point out that scratch or dent.
You now have a bargaining tool to get a deal on the “defective” product.
If your negotiation is stuck then say you’ll agree on the price as long as something
else is included and see what added extra is thrown in.
What are your personal experiences of haggling while abroad? Let us know.