How to Bargain – A Traveller’s Guide

Bargaining should be done with goodwill so that neither party feels put upon. Use smiles and good humour. But beware: the business of bargaining can be brutal!

Adventurers will gauge their own comfort level of balanced, fair barter. A street seller starts at, let’s say, $20. I say ‘No, too much.’ (Often I don’t even want it!)

They say ‘OK, $15.’

I say, ‘It’s quite cute but it’s too much.’ (I still don’t want it.)

‘OK. How much you give?’

I say something stupid like ‘$5’.

‘Oh, Oh cannot do.’

I say ‘Thanks, see ya’, and as I walk off they say, ‘OK you give me $8.’

At $7, I am usually suckered into some object I never really wanted to start with – jumble sale stuff.
Desmond: zero points. Street Seller: 10 points.

Shopkeepers have a healthy tourist margin built in and will always aim high, taking full advantage of a good profit from the unsuspecting. I try to say no gently but firmly and laugh with them. An acceptable get-out is ‘maybe later’.

My examples of buying trousers in a tailoring shop are:

1. Start price of $24 and an eventual price of $14 for Italian cloth.

2. Start price of $14 and eventual price of $8 (non-crush cloth).

I feel, each time, a need to bargain but also to test the level at which they still make a profit for their efforts.

By Des Gettinby, author of Budget Travel Secrets – S.E. Asia and India – Footloose and Almost Free