Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Time to haggle

In India, the markets are a shopaholic's dream. You can find just about anything and pay just about anything. There is never anything wrong with asking for a lower price if the stuff seems to be over-priced. Lord knows my Mom does that sooo well even though it irritates me to no end! :P Street markets, outdoor stalls, small shops and many independently owned marketplaces are havens for hagglers and in a culture that worships shopping, it’s only natural that the “bargain” be the Holy Grail.

But today I’m admitting this - I’m not good at haggling . Not at all! And, yes, needless to say- I’m sorta guilty of the same. Today I went shopping with Dad and I was at this local store checking out a pair of shoes when Dad after noticing my inability for a while, asked me with this astonished look- “You didn’t bargain?!?!”.

Well, I didn’t since the shoes were marked at a reasonable price and weren’t all that costly but since there wasn’t a sign suggesting it to be a “fixed price” shop so now I am having this feeling that I should have rather given it a try. Especially with the owner of the store being sooo cutee ;) I could have actually settled it for a much better price!! [*Sighs*] But, honestly speaking, whatever be the case, unfortunately I just don't seem to have the patience to bargain. And I don't go for just shopping. If I go shopping then it is to get that thing immediately.
As in, I go when I really need that stuff. For me, more than the money itself, time is money!

I too love a sale but when bargain-hunting, coupon clipping, or mastering the deal becomes the objective, you and your budget are likely headed for big trouble. I can’t tell you the number of people who have said, “But it was such a deal!” Really? A deal? Hmmmmm. If you’re spending money you don’t have – if you’re putting it on credit – it’s not a deal. If you’re buying something you don’t need, it’s not a deal. If it takes you three weeks, three months, or never to put what you bought to use, it’s not at all a deal sweetheart. But yes, it’s a deal when picking up a new book you’re dying to read for half price. A deal is getting something you really need or want at a significant savings, and being able to pay for it in cash.

So don’t be squeamish, get out there and try settling the price, if that's possible. Because the worst thing that could happen is that they say "no". However, if you ask in the right way, with the right strategy, and in the right circumstances, it's more than likely you will get a "yes" and leave the transaction with a bit more money in your pocket!

Personally I suck at haggling, but that’s a different thing and here in India it’s an art to haggle, and fixed prices are not a part of this artistic process. But how do you go about creating the next haggling masterpiece? I don’t know. I am notoriously uncomfortable negotiating bargains. However, if you only want to be moderately ripped off, you should follow these 5 timeless principles ;) I have tried them myself & guess what, they never fail!! :P

1). Never ever let the shopkeeper know that you really want something.
Give the impression that you’re just browsing, looking, and not really interested in buying anything.

2). Force yourself to leave if the merchant doesn’t give you a lower price.
As you walk toward the doors, 9 times out of 10 they will chase you down to offer a better price.

3). Remember, you are the client.
You have money in your pocket/checking account which the seller desperately wants. If they work on a commission (most of the time they are), they would rather sacrifice half of their take to make the sale. You have the power.

4). The haggle is not an argument.
You need to keep it cool while haggling. The more heated a discussion becomes, the less likely you are to get what you want. So be courteous and respectful in your dealings with all store employees–even if they do not extend this courtesy to you.

5). Bring cash.
People are often willing to make deals with you if you can pay cash and not credit. Credit card companies don’t only rip off the consumer, they also rip off merchants by taking chunks out of every purchase! So stores love to avoid using credit whenever possible. Take advantage of this and bring a wad of cash with you–this is also rhetorically effective when you say something like, “All I’ve got is Rs. 500!” and throw the two bills down on the counter. And pull your pockets inside out, if you want to get really crazy. Because with credit cards (or checks), numbers are never so finite.

If haggling is an art, then I’m still finger painting. So for those Picasso’s and DaVinci’s out there, don’t be shy. Leave a few strokes of genius :)

Happy Haggling :P


  1. Time For some comments:)
    To some extent the points are valid but it all depends on the type of shop you are entering or the product that you are buying.

    If its a branded product then you put any amount of effort or apply any tactics the shopkeeper will not give any disount unless he gets the same from the company. Thats why people around wait for the SALE SEASON to set in.

    There are certain shops where the margin on the products they sell is fairly low, here also the tactics gonna fail, but atleast giving a try might help.

    Another thing that can be tried out, is to make a survey in the market for that thing. Get the best available price for that product from different vendors, now try reaching again to each vendor and asking a price lower that the best available one. It works in my case:)

  2. Dude, the point is that we have a deal and you are taking me to Tommy, no matter what!! :P You get that???

    Try all tactics but remember this- I don't change my mind so easily ! ;)

  3. Thats why I specifically mentioned the SALE SEASON to set in ;)

    And FYI, Tommy has gone to Jhonny for his shopping ;)

  4. Whatever!! If Tommy's gone, how about CK or D&G or Burberry or Gucci or... ;)
    I'm sure you don't want me to go on! :P
    And I don't mind, after we are done with these, we can wait for the SALE SEASON to set in... :D