If you are traveling, especially to developing countries it is essential to know how to bargain. If the seller knows that you are not a local, he/she will increase the actual prize of the product in order to score the lottery and make some extra cash. Don’t dwell on this and take it as “unfair”, just learn some bargaining tips and try to have fun with it. Here are some bargaining tips that I have learned living in Cairo.
- SET A GOOD TONE AND SMILE
Always enter the store with a pleasant greeting such as “good morning” and a smile. Bargaining is very much a relationship between the buyer and the seller, it’s never an argument of who is going to win. When you find the product that you want to buy, try to find more information about it, this tells the seller that you are really interesting in the product. Also, the more the seller talks about the product, the more you know him/her; is he/she professional, is he/she bluffing and so forth. Bargaining takes time so don’t rush through it and try to enjoy the experience.
2. LEARN THE COUNTRY’S LANGUAGE
Even though my Arabic is an embarrassment, I try to use it as much as I can. I will always enter someone’s story with a local greeting. The most popular greeting in Egypt is “AsSalam Walaykum” which in Arabic means “may peace be upon you” and the locals will reply back with a “Walaykum AsSalam” which is reciprocating the peace. It is also important to know how to say, “how much” and be familiar with the local numbers. Although most Egyptians know that I am a foreigner, speaking in their language let’s them know that I have respect and I am familiar with locals and their products.
3. IT’S A FRIENDLY TRANSACTION
Don’t take this purchase as a bank transaction; treat it as it is, a person who is trying to make a leaving just like anyone else. This is one of the reasons why I love bargaining so much, I get to know the face behind the product. Where if I were back in the States, often times there’s no emotion from a purchase, other than fact that I like it. Look at it as if you are selling a product to a friend, you would most likely sell it for cheaper because you like to help your friend. Not only will you get a better deal if you are friendly but if you go back to the seller’s story, he/she will treat you like a VIP and show you the best quality products for a good deal.
4. LET THE SELLER SET THE FIRST PRIZE
I have made this mistake so many times that I felt so stupid afterwards. This is what happens to me all the time, I am on a taxi, I reach my destination and ask my driver, “how much?” in Arabic, the driver replies, “how much do you want pay?”. For example, I will tell them “30 egyptian pounds” and without any hesitation they say “ok” and off they go throughout their day. I immediately realized that I overpaid them because they were too happy and did not even bargain back. Once, I set that prize and they say “Ok”, I cannot go back and set another prize, I kind of have to reason with that. In order not to make the same mistakes that I do, you should always let the seller tell you the prize first. Know that the seller will always increase the prize, even if you are a local, set a big margin between the seller’s prize and yours for room for negotiation. If the seller tells you the product costs for example “150 dollars”, I would go as low as “50 dollars” and after haven bargained back and forth, I would settle for “100 dollars”. It is important to know that the transaction that you are making is between two individuals. On your side, you should not walk away with a product that you overpaid for, on the other side you should not underpay the seller. This is why bargaining is so special, your receipt will be in a form of a smile, where two individuals made a human connection and benefited from that one purchase.
5. SHOW THE MONEY AT THE END OF THE BARGAIN
Try to exchange your money for the local currency and have that in your wallet. Most importantly, never take out your wallet until you are about to close the transaction. You don’t want the seller to know how much you have it your wallet. If you have a couple of dollars laying in there, off course you will loose the bargaining battle. Make sure that you close the transaction when there’s no customers around and the seller is fully engaged to your purchase. When you have many customers in a store the seller will be very hesitant to bargain for obvious reasons, he will than have to give out the purchase for a much lower prize than he/she wanted, to everyone inside the store. Once the seller is totally at your service and you’re happy with the prize, you close the transaction. When you leave make sure you smile and give them a nice greeting.