Bartering

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Bartering

Postby em_g008 » Fri May 15, 2009 10:11 pm

Anybody have any tips for bartering in the local markets? I've never done it before, and am a bit nervous, and will probably get ripped off more than once I imagine! :wink:

One question: how do you barter if you don't speak the local language and they don't speak English? And how would you understand the prices?
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Re: Bartering

Postby bluesforshoes » Fri May 15, 2009 11:28 pm

A great aid in bartering is a simple calculator. They can put in an amount, you can put in your amount, and so on. This has gotten me through a lot of situations.

And yes, you may be cheated a few times (I was in Peru but it was Christmas day, so I let it go), and you may encounter some aggressive vendors. In Lhasa I was suckered in by a fellow sitting in the middle of the road (stalls were on either side of the street) and he reached out to shake my hand. Next thing I know I have three people holding me in place while I bartered for a bowl that I didn't know that I wanted. The amazing thing is that he never let go of my hand the whole time and I ended up with two bowls and a bracelet for half of the original asking price of the single bowl. Don't know if it was a good deal, but it's certainly a good story. :)

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Re: Bartering

Postby travelling_on » Fri May 15, 2009 11:58 pm

You really dont have to be concerned because we have found that anywhere from Africa to South America and around the world, even if the locals dont speak English, they know how much to ask for in both their currency and US dollars...you wont have a problem.
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Re: Bartering

Postby torontorox » Sat May 16, 2009 4:58 am

Simple! A calculator! I'm in China right now (Highlights of China) and all they do is just pull out a calculator! No need to worry about numbers!! I haven't bought much, but I'm just waiting until the end of my trip in Beijing. But so far I've bought a few gifts like Jade and Tiger Balm which is crazy expensive in Canada!
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Re: Bartering

Postby sinecure » Sat May 16, 2009 5:04 am

Shop around so you know the going starting price for an object, be polite (or you may find the vendor just doesn't want to sell to you) offer them an lower offer (with out low balling) they will counter that they can't possibly sell for the price you've quoted and feed their family, they will counter with an offer. This will go on till both parties are happy (if you barter too much you'll just offend the seller and find your self with nothing).

One of our stories was a rude person was haggling and annoying the vendor, we were just looking and being polite. Just to spite the rude person she sold us the item for the same price that she told the other person that there was just no way for that price...

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Re: Bartering

Postby ballu » Sat May 16, 2009 10:32 am

I've done plenty of bartering now, and I'm pretty sure I still get ripped off each time :)

If there's something you like, ask how much. Then say "no" and walk away. They'll come back with a lower price, you come back with an even lower price. The price also comes down if you buy more than one thing. As long as you're happy with what you paid, that's all that matters.
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Re: Bartering

Postby em_g008 » Sat May 16, 2009 1:02 pm

Thanks for all the tips everyone! Using a calculator is a great idea, don't know why I never thought of it. Do vendors usually have them or should you have your own?
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Re: Bartering

Postby sinecure » Sat May 16, 2009 1:13 pm

Most vendors will already have them, but a small one from a dollar store doesn't hurt. It can also be used to see how much you should be getting back when exchanging money, etc.
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Re: Bartering

Postby TravelFun » Sat May 16, 2009 5:54 pm

I learnt bartering from my Grandmother in India, to the extent that I had to pay the rickshaw rider 3 rupees and not 5 rupees...now considering it's around 80 rupees to the GBP !

Here's some key rules to remember:

1. no-one will sell something without making some profit so don't feel guilty about lowering the price considerably
2. never make eye contact with the vendors, this one really works if you don't to be hassled by everyone
3a. decide the price you think the item is worth and convert to local currency, this way you will be happy with your price and won't feel ripped-off
3b. or just knock-off 50% and then start from there,ok at least a 1/3 off
4. only barter around 3 times and then walk away, most times they will come after you and accept your price (always worked for me)
5. never make it obvious how much you really like an item, if they can tell this then the vendors will not lower their price much
6. practice makes perfect

Good luck :wink:
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Re: Bartering

Postby jimshu » Sat May 16, 2009 6:05 pm

I've done plenty of bartering now, and I'm pretty sure I still get ripped off each time

You're a tourist...you're supposed to get ripped off.!:lol:
Best way to approach it.
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Re: Bartering

Postby Carmey » Mon May 25, 2009 6:49 pm

I just set a price that I’m willing to pay and never deviate from it. The minute you show that you may be willing to up what you will pay they know they have you. Act like it doesn’t matter to you one way or another if you get it or not. In Africa they wanted $40 so I offered $12; they wouldn’t take it so I walked away. We set up our lunch area right outside their shop and when we finished eating he waved me over, had it wrapped for me and I got it for the $12. If they aren’t willing to sell it to you for the price you offer you will know right away, they usually walk away. The longer they stay to bargain with you the more you know you will probably get it. Sometimes they will try to subsidize it for a smaller size so be careful. The only thing you need to worry about is did you get the item for a price you wanted to pay?
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Re: Bartering

Postby RichieRich » Mon May 25, 2009 7:12 pm

ballu wrote:I've done plenty of bartering now, and I'm pretty sure I still get ripped off each time :)


LOL... same here.

I remember bartering for some jewelry in Zanzibar for about 30 minutes. At the end I had him down to $12 (from like $30) and felt kind of bad for talking him down so low and he looked defeated. On the ferry ride back some guy was selling the exact same necklace at the dock, starting price $12. Ah nuts.

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Re: Bartering

Postby mrzeszow » Tue May 26, 2009 12:31 pm

After years of travel, I still get ripped off :D I think it comes with the territory.

I agree with everyone else. Sometimes it's hard to know how much something is worth, so sometimes I'll just take some time to walk around and visit a few different vendors to compare prices and get a starting point. Also easier to barter when you can say that the guy down the street has it for less and you're willing to walk away.

I like to keep a certain amount of cash in a pocket specifically for shopping and away from the credit cards. If you insist that that's all the cash you have, and you can show them, then they may be more inclined to sell for less. If they know you have more, then it's more difficult to barter.

It's also more difficult to barter if you want to pay with credit card. Many vendors see that as limitless.
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Re: Bartering

Postby AdamfromCanada » Mon Jun 01, 2009 12:51 pm

em_g008 wrote:Anybody have any tips for bartering in the local markets? I've never done it before, and am a bit nervous, and will probably get ripped off more than once I imagine! :wink:

One question: how do you barter if you don't speak the local language and they don't speak English? And how would you understand the prices?


A few points: 1) they'll almost always speak English. At least they have every where I've gone. If it's somewhere on the tourist track, then they know how to communicate with the tourists.

2) Don't ask a price on something unless you really want it. Nothing aggravates the vendors more than just asking what everything is going for. If you ask, they usually think the negotiations are beginning. It'll be a situation where you're both likely to leave annoyed, because they won't leave you alone for a while after that.

3) You're never ripped off if you get it at a value that seems fair to you. Feel free to negotiate hard if need be, and don't pay more than you really want to, but adding a little more money to the local economy of the countries you're visiting is probably a good thing, and if you get something that you're happy with, then don't worry too much about whether you left money on the table.

4) That said, something that I realised in Africa is that they will take you for as much as they can. I was taken back initially by how much they asked for things off the bat. They'd throw a number out that was much, much higher than I expected. Don't be afraid to lowball them back if they're being silly about the prices. I originally went thinking I would just be 30-40% difference between the price they pitched and what I wanted to pay...but in some cases they were asking three times what I thought something was worth. If you hit your limit, stick to your guns. They'll either give in eventually (maybe chase you down after you leave the shop), or you'll find something else you want.

5) Almost anything that doesn't have a price on it is negotiable. This includes in local stores. We had some people going in to little stores and buying a pop and a chocolate bar and just asking what it was going for. I tried telling the clerk what I wanted to pay, and found that I got much better deals that way. (This doesn't work in the supermarkets, where they actually price their goods).

6) Make sure your tour leader lets you know if there will be more markets you're visiting. My one regret in Borneo was that we only stopped at one market early on, and I didn't buy anything, thinking there would be several more opportunities. I found souvenirs in the city there at the mall, but there were some things at the market which I would have looked at buying had I known I wouldn't have had a second chance.

I hope that's somewhat helpful.
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Re: Bartering

Postby nawirl » Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:35 pm

I definately got ripped off when I first started shopping. But they speak english in most market areas. Whatever they start with I usually go 1/2 that (at least) depending on price. Some will say "what do you want to pay?" I'd like to tell them nothing... So you need to be aware of what the prices should be for whatever articles you want. Plus when you think about the money exchange you're probably bartering a 100,000rp back and forth -which is like $10.
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