I have compiled these 10 tips that I guarantee will get you a better deal when shopping in market places where bartering is accepted and expected. These tips are not limited to India however this is where I have learned the most about negotiation as Indians have proven to be entrepreneurial masters and excellent negotiators.
In india every single transaction should be considered a negotiation, even the locals negotiate. Every damn thing. It can be quite tedious and uncomfortable for some people who have travelled from countries where negotiation is out of the question. Completely understandable, but isn’t travel supposed to take you out of your comfort zone? Bartering is one skill you will need to learn pretty fast if you don’t want to be taken advantage of.
I was shopping in Udaipur with a friend who I met on my trip and he was constantly paying full price for everything without a single attempt to barter. We had a pretty in-depth conversation sharing our opinions and views towards bartering. In short I said to him “You know they jack up the price when they see you because you’re a westerner? This isn’t their final price and they expect you to barter.” then his counter comment “Kim, its only an extra $4 to you and I but so much more for these guys” So I set the record straight.. although I fully respect that $4 will stretch further in India, I, like many other travellers who visit countries where bartering is not only accepted but expected have saved a long time for my travel an have worked so hard to be here often juggling two or three jobs and making sacrifices of the pleasures I enjoy. This is one reason that impacts me directly however there is a bigger issue to consider. These shop owners purchase stock from small villages that really do it tough, I have visited some of these villages myself. They work from sunrise to sunset and are often struggling to find resources. Girls are put to work as soon as they are capable and will never receive and education. These shops also purchase from slums where sweat shop after sweat shop can be found pumping out garments to meet the demand ( I have visited these slums myself also). So where do you think your money is going? Certainly not to the people who made these items and that my friends is called exploitation. Something I refuse to participate in. I will pay an honest price offering the shop keeper a small margin for his service of purchasing from these villages and slums but I will not support a shop making a 200-300% profit on these items.
In india every single transaction should be considered a negotiation, even the locals negotiate. Every. damn. thing. It can be quite tedious and uncomfortable for some people who have travelled from countries where negotiation is out of the question. Completely understandable, but isn’t travel supposed to take you out of your comfort zone? Bartering is one skill you will need to learn pretty fast if you don’t want to be taken advantage of.
10 tips to get the best deal.
1. Nothing is labeled in India so it is best to check the going price for similar items with several vendors before diving into a purchase. I guarantee most of them have the same stock and competition is high in the market place.
2. In convenience stores a lot of things will be “fixed price” for example on bottles of water and certain products produced by bigger companies will show a label of RS100 for example, indicating that the maximum resale price is 100 Rupees. This does not mean you need to pay this much. This is simply the maximum the vendor is allowed to sell the item for.
3. Alway, always! for the first offer say “Too high” or “Too much” they will drop the price, wait until they have dropped the price twice before making any kind of offer.
4. Once the price has been dropped at least twice offer them around 30% of the original price as your starting point and prepare to ping pong back and forth until you find your middle ground.
5. Always remember patience, be polite, be humble. If the shop keeper becomes aggressive at any point (this can happen but it is rare in my experience) simply walk out of the store. No words needed. The next vendor will likely have your item.
6. Make them show you more stock. Ask them to show you many similar items to compare all of your options and search for the best quality piece. Make them invest their time and energy into the transaction.
7. Small items can be quite quick to make the transaction and will be win win for you both, you will feel like you have received a total bargain and the shop keeper will be smiling as he believes he has got a good price for his stock however with higher quality and larger items the negotiation process can become quite lengthy, but this is where the real bargains happen. Be patient and polite.
8. When you see the note pad, you know things have become serious. I counter this by pulling out my phone and opening up the XE currency app so the store owner knows I also mean business.
9. Walk away. Yes, it is hard to turn your back on your beloved item you may have negotiated 10 minutes on. Be lovely, say thank you and walk away. I have had shop keepers chase me around the corner to say okay, deal. If they don’t chase you, you’re probably bargaining too low.
10. Seal the deal. Once the deal is done you can breathe easy, you will feel the intensity slip away and the shop keeper will be super friendly and often ask you where you’re from then ask you if you’re from the only major city they know of in your country, in my case they ask if I’m from Sydney or start talking to me about cricket. Which I know nothing about so I just laugh and say Ricky Ponting and it brings so much joy to their face. Simple. Shake their hand, flash your pearly white and be on your way.
It is the shop keepers duty to ensure they have a satisfied customer. The transaction should be a happy experience for everyone. Im not in the game of ripping anyone off however Im also not in the game of being ripped off myself. If you walk out of a store and the shop keeper has a big grin on his face and little to say to you, chances are he’s stoked at the margin he just made from you. Negotiation is a way of life, a great big game and he just won. Learn your lesson but most of all have fun with it.
THANK YOU FOR READING.
Tell me about your bargaining recipe? Do you have any special tricks that you personally use to get the best deal?
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