Holiday shopping is hard to avoid; even browsing markets or picking up souvenirs can catch you and your wallet out! Of course, in some cultures there is more to making a purchase than a brief exchange of currency; in some places haggling is a key part of the process. You’re likely to come across opportunities to haggle in destinations such as Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Thailand and even Central America, where sellers want to make a profit, but they also want you to engage. It might sound intimidating, and unfortunately a lack of confidence or know-how prevents many of us from doing it properly – or at all! But in truth, haggling is quite easy once you’ve tried it and it can be great fun.
Souk by Kyllercg
Keep in mind these easy tips to ensure you master the art of bargaining:
KNOW WHAT YOU WANT: It’s best to have an idea of what you want before you enter the marketplace. This will help prevent impulse buys – you’re dealing with expert salesmen after all, and it is far too easy to be talked into buying something you didn’t want in the first place. Take time to talk to other guests in the local hotels to find out what they’ve been buying and how much they’ve paid to get a rough idea. Then decide on your item and let that be your focus.
CHOOSE YOUR PRICE: Decide ahead of time what you’re willing to pay. Haggling is a little like gambling – always go in knowing how much you’re willing to part with.
LET THE SELLER BEGIN: Don’t seem too eager when you first see the item you want. Let the shop owner make their sales pitch. Once the seller tells you the price, say it’s too much, and let them make another offer. Sometimes it’s worth enquiring about a different item to the one you want. By the time you move on to the item you are really after, the opening offer may already have dropped a little.
START LOW: When you make your first offer, go low. A good rule is to offer about a quarter of what you’re actually willing to pay. Be prepared for stall owners to react dramatically. Don’t let this deter you though as it is all part of the process. Avoid adjusting your price too often, making too many offers, or dropping your offer once you’ve raised it – these tactics will only annoy the seller. Be clear and straight to the point. If you appear to lack confidence in your own offers, the seller will too.
LOSE INTEREST: It’s always good to feign disinterest early in the haggling process, when they are still not offering you the price you want. This is where two travellers together work best. One can be the good cop, showing interest in an item; the other can be bad cop, and say “It’s too much, let’s go.” It provides more freedom to go from “interested” to “uninterested” without seeming like you’re playing games.
WALK AWAY: This is a much-used tactic. The seller will anticipate that you will walk away when you don’t get the price you want. This then gives the seller the chance to offer their “best price”. They will act as if they are making a massive exception for you, because they like you. Re-enter the bargaining, but always make a counterbid. You were about to leave, so you have nothing to lose!
AGREE A PRICE: Remember what you wanted to pay for the item, and be sure you are also making a fair offer. Once a price is agreed, shake hands, and seal the contract. Neither of you should budge on the price after that. Sellers will respect the haggling process, as should buyers. Often, a happy seller will throw in a free goodwill gift as well, which is usually a sign that you bargained well!
Of course, it’s not appropriate to haggle everywhere you go, but if you’ve booked yourself into one of our fabulous Morocco hotels, or perhaps decided to take a break in Turkey or maybe Thailand, it’s likely you’ll find plenty of opportunities to test out your new skills.
Market by Hector Garcia
Please leave a comment about your haggling experiences and bargains, and any other tips to help other haggling holidaymakers!