How to bargain at Markets


Markets are incredible places no matter what country you’re in. They can offer weird and wonderful items you would never be able to find elsewhere but they can also host an array of mass produced goods you can find everywhere (eg. Selfie sticks, ‘Same same but different tshirts’ in Thailand). When it comes to those visiting such markets, there are 2 kinds of people; those who accept the price that is given to them and those that will always ask for less. So for those who are a bit uneasy or unsure about how to go about asking for a better deal, here are a few easy tips on getting yourself a good deal.

1. Smile and be polite

The is the most important rule. No one is going to want to give you a good deal if you are rude or obnoxious. If you gain a good rapport with them, then they are more likely to be open to reduce their price for you

2. Always ask ‘how much’ first

As it is unlikely you know the value of certain items, you don’t want to accidentally jump the gun and overestimate. Let them tell you how much they want

3. Counteroffer

Think of a price in you head and make it your aim to get as close to it as you can – make sure it is both reasonable (fair to the owner) and realistic. In order to do this, it may take a few offers. Usually I would start with a really low ball offer at about 40-50% of the asking price at which point the vendor will most likely give you a response like “you’ll put me out of business.” He or she will then usually give you another offer which you can then counter again if you are not happy. Hopefully by now you would have come to an agreement and both be satisfied with the transaction

4. No deal

Of course not all vendors are easy to budge, so if they’ve reached their lowest prices and you’re still not happy, say something along the lines of “thank you for your time, let me have a bit of time to think about it and I might come back later”. If they still don’t budge, it’s because they either don’t like you or the price they offered really is the last price they can offer whilst still making a profit. In most cases however, they often call you back and lower the price

5. Multiple purchases

If you buy several things from the one vendor they are more likely to give you a good deal, so there is a lot more room to barter

Things to keep in mind:

– some stalls have clear signs like ‘fixed price’ or ‘no barter’, so it’s really not worth trying to bargain with them unless you happening to be purchasing an exorborant amount from them. Often these stores are a little pricier anyway so shop around first

– if you offer cash you are more likely to get a better deal as the vendors have to pay credit card fees which they hate

– markets can be a high pressure environment with plenty of crowds and pushy salespeople, so if don’t feel comfortable, just leave

– keep in mind where you are and why you are bargaining – in South East Asian countries everything is usually already ridiculously cheap, so if you’re thinking of bargaining over 50cents, just reflect on whether that amount would make much of a difference to you compared to the impact it may have on them (I.e. 50 cents could buy their dinner)

Well I hope that gives you a bit of an idea of where to start, obviously this is just my opinion and everyone else has their own ways of going about things. But the main thing I do want to stress is to always show respect to the vendor – a smile and some kindness goes a long way.

Til next time

Ann & Jason xo

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