Haggle (verb) – dispute or bargain persistently, especially over the cost of something If you have ever set foot in South East Asia you would have been hassled, prodded or even grabbed by some friendly locals wishing to sell you something that was likely made for 5 – 10 cents. Whether that be a sarong, a bag, perfume (I have been told to avoid perfume due to the heat affecting the smell but let’s be honest they are fake anyway), magnets, dvds or even penis shaped bottle openers there is something for everyone. The question remains, how much should we really spend on these so called cheap souvenirs?
Before my first ever trip overseas a wise man once told me that during the art of haggling always at least halve the initial amount offered to you by the seller. Following this one rule I have had much experience in haggling and come up with the 5 simple tips behind the Science of Haggling.
Saving Money Through the Science of Haggling
1 – Following on from what was mentioned above – your first offer can never be greater than half the original price offered to you by the seller.It is a known fact that sellers are going to inflate the price. They are going to assume you are new to the science of haggling and hence want to get top dollar for the item, I mean who wouldn’t. Let me tell you straight up though that the item is not worth what they are trying to sell it for and hence cut the price in half. Once this is done, let the game begin.
NOTE: Once you have haggled a few times you will start to gauge the cost of things. Don’t be surprised if sellers actually inflate their price by 3 or 4 times their correct amount. Therefore use half as a guide in the beginning but learn to trust your gut and if you feel the item is WAY WAY overpriced cut the price accordingly.
2 – Once you have established your offer (which in my case is often less than half) you try not move on price. If you do though only move once and I mean ONCE ONLY.
This all depends on how much you want the item. If you are having fun and aren’t desperate to buy the item I would suggest don’t move at all. If the seller ends up agreeing to the price pay it and then celebrate obtaining a bargain. If the seller is also holding strong and not budging you can move your price slightly up but only once. Now battle it out for as long as you need to get the item for that price.
3 – If you are having no luck obtaining the item and you have moved your price up (the one and only time) the next step is to walk and by walk I mean walk away….slowly.
Ok, so moving the price up hasn’t worked and the seller is still not budging. Now your strategy becomes ‘well I didn’t really want it anyway’ and hence you say ‘hmmm I don’t think I really need it and I think I will leave it this time’. At this point start to walk away slowly. The seller will now start to panic because trust me they want to make the sale. They will begin shouting out to you offering reduced prices. Continue to converse with the seller sticking with your price. Eventually as you get further and further away the seller should cave and allow you to buy the item at your price.
4 – If you are uncomfortable with the ‘walk away’ strategy (as many are) you can try and bundle your offer.
By bundling your offer, I mean, sweeten the deal for the seller. You do this by purchasing other items you like from the same stall. When purchasing more you have more bargaining power over the seller because they will be even more inclined to sell to you because it will be a higher price. If you use this strategy though just make sure you are using your maths skills well and are still getting a good deal. It may be best to have someone else with you to ensure this is happening. Trust me it is easy to stuff up with different currencies and horrible conversions.
5 – My final strategy – If none of the above works and the seller is still not willing to sell to you at a reasonable price, leave.
I know what you are saying ‘all this hard work for nothing’. To me though it is precedence of not being ripped off at play. I now also know what you are saying ‘but you are haggling over 50 cents’. Correct, I probably am but I would prefer to give my sale to someone willing to have fun and be reasonable than someone that is not. I can now hear you saying ‘but all of these people need money, they live in a third world country, why wouldn’t you just give it to them’. My justification for that is, well anyone selling in a stall in a major market, on a major road or in a tourist hot spot are making more money than most locals within that country. I would prefer to use the money I had just saved to tip others within the country that I feel need it more. Whether you agree or not that is my justification.
Anywho back to the leaving part of strategy 5. The reason you should leave is there is a 99% chance you will find that same item at a different stall. Therefore you can find another seller willing to sell it to you at a better price and reward them accordingly for the fun. If this is the case I would suggest returning to that same stall at least one more time on your trip if you are wanting to purchase something different to again enjoy the science of haggling.
I must admit there has been one scenario while in Ubud, Bali where I walked away because I was unhappy with the price of this hip and trendy bag, unfortunately I never found that same bag again. That doesn’t mean I won’t try to track it down and get it for a decent price when I am back in Bali in Jan ‘16 and April ‘16.
Chinatown Markets – Kuala Lumpur
So the Science of Haggling hey, how do you do it? Do you agree with my 5 simple steps? Would you be willing to try these? Do you have other steps you swear by? I would love to hear your feedback.Thanks – LJO