I grew up bargaining at yard sales, but fell out of practice over the years. When we moved to Nepal, I had to brush up on my skills or go broke. Everything is bargained for here in Nepal. Most shops have no posted prices. You have to ask and bargain. It is expected. Every trip in a taxi starts with bargaining(“moltol”).
Here are a few tips for bargaining:
- Always have small bills or exact change. Nothing throws off a deal or sours a seller more than finishing a hard fought bargaining session by pulling out a large-denomination bill and asking for change. Sure, the price has already been set, but don’t expect to get another, similar deal from the seller and some sellers may go back on their deal after seeing the extra cash.
- Split your cash into bundles. As a final bargaining tactic, you can pull out an exact amount of cash(slightly lower than their most recent offer) and show them the money. A true statement like, “I have XXXXX rupees to spend on this.” may bring them down that last little bit to your desired price. This definitely doesn’t work if you pull out a huge wad of cash(more than the currently agreed upon price).
- One of the easiest ways to do this properly is by sorting your money into different pockets beforehand. You should have an idea of what you want to pay. Cut that number by 10%-20% and place that amount in one bundle in a certain pocket. In other pockets place combinations of bills that will bring you to different price points around the original number. Maybe 50 rupees in one pocket, 100 rupees in another pocket and 75 rupees in another. The amounts depend on the value of the item you are bargaining for. Don’t forget which pocket is which. At the right time, pull out the contents of 2 pockets: the large bundle with 80%-90% of the sale price and the appropriate smaller bundle that brings the amount up to your offer price.
- Be willing to walk away. Be willing to miss out on the deal. Remember there are other sellers. Also, you can always come back.
- Be willing to come back. Don’t let your pride get in the way. If you just walked away from a deal, then went to other shopkeepers and found much higher prices, simply go back to the original shopkeeper and tell him that you found out that he had a good price.
- Keep others away. Unless it is a coordinated effort planned in advance, bargaining should be done alone. One person should have both the cash and the authority to spend it. Glancing at your “bargaining partner” for guidance tells the seller that you are unsure or don’t have the authority. Sellers pick up on this quickly, especially if one person looks ready to pay and the other wants to keep looking for a lower price. Before bargaining for a taxi, I generally have my wife stand about 20 feet away while I go talk to the drivers. Yesterday, I had to talk to/bargain with three drivers before I found a taxi driver who gave us an acceptable price. I didn’t actually end up bargaining, but by trying 3 drivers, I paid 45% of the price offered by the first taxi driver. This way, my wife doesn’t have to keep walking away with me if the price is not good enough.
- Don’t get excited. When you find something you like, don’t show excitement or express too much joy. This simply tells the seller that you have a vested interest in this product and he has more hooks into you. When my wife calls me over to show me a piece of clothing she found that she wants to buy, the shopkeeper is watching. I generally looks at it disapprovingly, bob my head sideways as if determining if it’s worth purchasing, then put it back. When we move on, the shopkeeper loses some interest and we discuss the merits of the item. If we want to purchase it, we come back later and pick it up. This way the seller feels that he has to sell us. It gives us the advantage.
- Know when not to bargain. If somebody offers you a good price, don’t nickel and dime them. Sometimes paying a little more now will save you money in the long run. You may think that you can get a crate of eggs for 5 rupees less by bargaining, but by paying those extra 5 rupees, you may be developing a relationship that will allow you to get a very good price every time without bargaining. The problem with bargaining is that there are no guarantees. You may get a good price today and a terrible one tomorrow. You never know. Always be on the lookout for ways to establish a long-term relationship so you can get a good deal every time.
What tactics have you used successfully?