Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bargaining or Haggling.....

Bargaining or haggling, whatever you want to call it, can be fun, but it can also be stressful at times.  Some people love to bargain and grab items at really low prices.  I, on the other hand, hate having to bargain for items that I want.  I usually don't bother with it and just leave the store if the price is not right.  But for you haggling lovers, here are some tips to help you on your next trip.

Be the Early Bird

Cantonese people call it "fat see" (prosperous market) and Thai people call it "berd bin" (open invoice).  These refer to a superstition that if you don't hurry and make the first sale of the day, you won't be able to sell anything for the whole day.  So if you can be customer #1, vendors will be willing to give the biggest discount. 

Shop Around

You should look around before deciding to buy.  You must do your research or else you will losing out on some great deals.  In Beijing, some vendors will mark up their prices by almost 300%!   But, in Korea, no matter which vendor you go to, prices will not change.  Why?  Because they are all owned by the same boss.  It is an illusion of choice.  So you have to do your research so you don't fall into these traps.

Bulk Up

When shopping in Bangkok, make sure to ask for a wholesale price.  If you plan to buy only one item, you will have to buy it at retail price, but if you plan to buy many items for gifts or for yourself, you should try bargaining for a wholesale price. 

"Skin Tax"

This is what people in India call the extra amount people try to charge for foreigners.  I have had experience with this in Korea.  When I went with my wife, I couldn't understand 100%, but I could understand the Koreans saying that we were Japanese tourists.  So they probably charged us a "Japanese" price.  When I went to visit my friend in Korea, everything was so cheap.  I remember going to a food stand and getting a whole meal for under 300 yen.  Yup, that's local price!  So it will always be helpful to have a local on your side when in another country.

Know When to Walk Away

If the vendor doesn't agree to low enough price, then just walk away.  Even if you really want the item, you cannot let the vendor catch on to that or else you will lose.  Chances are, there is another vendor with the same product so you can try bargaining there.  If you are lucky, when you walk away, the vendor might run after you and say OK to the price.

Time Your Shopping

Now this is the Japanese style of shopping.  Japanese stores tend to have bargain sales in January and July.  And Japanese are very sensitive to seasons, so when the season is almost over, you can expect to find great bargains then. 

I hope this will help you on your next bargain adventure abroad.  Remember you are the customer and don't ever let the vendor have the upper hand on you. 


  1. I use some of these tips when I go shopping. "Shop Around" is the most important measure to buy an appliance.

  2. Yup, very important. There might not be that much of a difference in price at times. But it feels good to have bought something cheaper.