How to Haggle
Haggling. Try it in Topshop or Tesco and you might get some funny looks. But abroad, prices aren’t usually set in stone, and in some places, haggling’s the norm. But if you’re not too sure how it’s done, read on for our top tips for bagging a bargain…
Preparation is key
First up – learn the local lingo. You don’t have to be fluent, but learning numbers up to 10 can be a big help, as can learning the basics like ‘please’, ‘thank you’, and perhaps ‘you’re having a laugh – the shop next door has that for half the price’. And if you’re not confident, bring a calculator to show the seller your offers.
Set your standards
It’s best to have an idea in your head of what you will – and definitely won’t – pay for your item. Shop around first and see how prices are averaging out. In places like Marrakech there are fixed-price government-run stores where you can get an idea of the maximum amount you should be coughing up. This’ll also help when you go in with your first offer – if you start too low, the seller will know you’re a novice. Too high, and they’ll be rubbing their hands together with glee. The rough rule of thumb is to offer one third of the original price you’re quoted.
Ready, set, go!
Now it’s time to get your game face on and bring out those GCSE Drama skills. Act like you’re not that bothered about buying. Feign outrage at the first price you’re offered. Long silences also work like a charm – if the seller thinks you’re on the fence, they’ll get nervous and most likely drop the price a little more. And put that English reserve back at your hotel – this is no time for meekness.
Tricks of the trade
If you’re with someone else, try the old good cop, bad cop routine. While you ooh and aah over that hand-woven rug, your partner in crime will remark on how expensive it is, and how you don’t want/need/have room for it. The seller will usually come down on price more quickly if he feels like your other half might persuade you against buying.
Don’t be afraid to walk away
Most of the time the seller will try to tempt you back with a lower price – and if not, you can always go back later.
Get more bang for your buck
If the price still isn’t quite what you were hoping for, ask the seller to chuck in a freebie, or ask for a bigger discount if you buy more than one item. Worst-case scenario? They say no. Best-case scenario? You end up with a lot more for your money.
Know when to quit
Don’t sweat the small stuff – those last few pennies you’re desperately bargaining over are pretty worthless to you, but might be worth a whole lot more to the seller.
Most importantly of all…
Remember to smile! It’s all a bit of a game, so keep it light-hearted and don’t take things too seriously.