Bargaining is an essential part of travelling and you really need to know the best ways to save money in this way. So yes, you’ve guessed it today’s Monday’s Money Saving tips are all about bargaining and bartering!! These are my top 5 ways to make sure you are ready to bargain (even before you do your whole “gift of the gab” spiel and grab a t shirt for 30% of its normal price):
1. Dress like a tramp:
If you really want to bargain for something, then you mustn’t show your wealth straight up. Watch what a tramp wears and copy them. When I’m in bargaining mood I usually wear an old well worn t shirt or football shirt and a pair of ripped shorts. When street sellers see you, they already know you’re not exactly a rich dude and they will bear this in mind (even if its done subconsciously). Wearing jewellery, handbags, designer gear is a no no!! Remember first impressions are very important in many walks of life and this includes when buying things. Turn up in ripped jeans and smelly clothes and you might just be on the same level as those flogging the goods! Once you’ve done your bargaining by all means get the clean shirt on for a night out!
2. Always carry small change:
As a traveller its a given that you should always carry small change and a variety of coins and notes. You’d don’t want to bargain some dude into paying only 50 Pesos instead of 100 Pesos and then find out you only have 100 Peso notes. You’ll look like a right eejit (idiot) and may even end up being ripped off, putting your bargaining effort to waste. This isn’t the only reason however – some vendors won’t have change at all (or will say they don’t in order to make more money) and you’ll end up paying the full whack anyway. Another obvious reason for carrying multiple notes is showing the money to the street sellers. Never have a wallet out, and certainly never show them big notes – they’ll assume you can afford to pay more. Only get out a few notes and low denomination ones. Once the sellers see a note for say 20 Pesos, seeing the money is more likely to make them sell it to you to get a quick profit. Be alert for fakes as well and try to always pay in the exact amount you’ve bargained for.
3. Start Low:
If you want to put in an offer make sure you go very low to start with. No point in trying to bargain if you set a high price to begin with, as when you bargain and meet in the middle, most likely the salesman will always win. If something is going for 50 Hong Kong Dollars, at least half it (my normal is 40 – 50%) and put in an offer of 20 or 25 HKD. Almost always they won’t accept your low price, but they know they’re in a bidding war and you will end up getting it for about 35 HKD. If you start with an offer of 30 HKD, even the “gift of the gab” won’t get you much lower than paying 40 HKD for it. If the vendor then laughs at your low offer, there’s always option 4…
4. Walk away:
A classic technique this. Once you’ve made an offer and it’s been rejected, simply walk away. The vendor will feel upset that he was dealing with you and then lost out. Again, in almost all cases, he will follow you or yell at you to come back so you can come to a conclusion. Politely then accept a low offer and take it reluctantly, safe in the knowledge you bargained well. Remember these guys want and need a sale and a potential customer walking away is a loss for them. Make yourself feel important!
5. Say No:
AT the start of the conversation you have about buying something, when you hear how much they will charge, give out a crazy reaction. Terms like “NO chance”, “No way”, “Are you kidding!”, “Don’t be ridiculous” etc. will make the vendor realise he is well over-pricing it. If it’s very dear/expensive I often give out a crazy reaction and disappear from his stall never to return. BUT in some cases they deliberately price it high to test your reaction. Once they know you’re a smart cookie, they may be more willing to chat, negotiate and bring their price down!
OK so these are 5 very quick and easy tips and non-specific to countries. The best countries to bargain for things are of course the poorer ones, which is sad as I don’t mind paying extra for things when I know the owner works hard for a low wage. So think about that as well and don’t take any sh1t from street vendors who, for the most part are trying to rip you off. Come to a half way point that you are both happy with and you’ll be a happy shopper and the salesman a happy seller. Asia and South America beat Europe and Oceania hands down for bargaining options. Good luck in your bargaining and let me know any extra tips and how you get on!
Bargaining is part of my ongoing series Monday’s Money Saving Tips on Don’t Stop Living. I’m a travelling Northern Irishman and I have built myself a lifestyle of travel! Hoping to help everyone out there do it too!
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