The Ultimate Guide to Haggling

We’ve all watched in awe as our parents, who somehow received a comprehensive training in the art of haggling at some point in their lives, have lowered prices of products exponentially and walked out of a store with a deal and a smile. Live in fear no longer, friends: the Lala has compiled The Ultimate Guide to Haggling. Read on for treasures untold that will change the way you do business forever.

General Tips

  •  Conquer your inner fear of haggling. People may not want to seem cheap or difficult or worry about offending the seller. Our response: many small business owners expect customers to offer a lower price. Also, who cares what the owner thinks of you? Your priority in the sale is to respectfully get the most bang for your buck. Overcome your fear and don’t get ripped off by accepting the first price offered.
  • Haggling cannot be done in department stores. Strike a bargain in small shops and kiosks (basically any small business where the owner can decide to lower the price of the product). WARNING: Boutique owners, especially in developed countries, may be offended when you try to apply your amazing haggling skills.
  • Never show investment in a product. If you really want an item, buy a cheaper item with it. If you buy more than one product, you will usually get a better price on the bundle.
  • Keep a poker face on from the minute you step into the store, but remember to be nice, polite and to say hello—never be rude.
  • Don’t be afraid to tell a little white lie. You won’t get coal in your stockings for saying that the seller next door offered you a much cheaper price for the same item.
  • Always listen to the seller before you speak. Give them a chance to say what is on their mind about the worth of the product.
  • Never suggest a price. Always be firm. Do not say, “How about $7?” DO say, “$7 is what I will pay for this product.”

The Process

  1. A sparkling gold necklace catches your eye. Gorgeous, you think. The first and arguably the most important step of haggling is not to let the seller read your thoughts. Do not appear interested in the item at first.
  2. Casually ask to take a look at the necklace. After nonchalantly gazing at it for a bit, ask the seller how much he or she is selling it for.
  3. After the initial price is named, show exasperation at the high price. “REALLY, WOW!!!” At this point it is crucial not to offend the shopkeeper by dropping the necklace altogether. Rather, hand it back to him or her and say, “This is much more than I expected.” After doing so, do not proceed to look around the other contents of the store and then come back to the necklace. If you do, the shopkeeper will know you are truly interested in the original item and all your secrets will be exposed.
  4. Ask to look at the necklace again and say, “This is how much I would pay for it.” Offer half of the original price. The shopkeeper will proceed to act very shocked and reject your offer. You should retort that this is what you believe the product is worth.
  5. The seller may reduce the price for the necklace a bit. In return, you should say, “There is no way I would pay that price for this necklace.” It is very important that you stick to your original price offered for at least several rounds of the haggle.
  6. Ask some questions about the necklace to start a conversation. You want to keep the seller invested in the sale so that it would be a loss of time and money if you walked out of the store empty-handed. While asking questions, try to point out as many defects as possible about the product.
  7. If another unsatisfactory price is offered, stick to your original price. Thank the seller for his or her time, hand the necklace back to the seller (do not put it down), and start walking out slowly. Take your time to gaze at other items on the way out so that the seller has a chance to entice you with a new price.
  8. If he or she doesn’t stop you at this point, turn around and ask to look at the piece again. Offer a slightly higher price. If he or she does stop you, allow yourself to haggle with the seller–it’s ok at this point to come up a little on your price.
  9. If you and the seller are not coming to a verbal agreement, it’s time to take out the bills. Produce a slightly higher price than your current offer in cash and hand the bills to the seller, asking, “Do we have a deal?” It is important that you don’t give the seller any change to work with, but the exact price in bills. Insist that what you are paying the seller is fair. If the seller does not agree, produce another bill of value to add to your offer. This cycle can go on and on, depending on how much you want that shiny gold necklace.

It is important to note that every haggling scenario is unique and will not follow this guide step by step. This guide was written to give you an idea of how persistent you should be in getting fair prices. We hope to see you out in the field someday, using your haggling powers for the greater good.

Ariana Mozafari

Contributing Editor, The American University of Paris Major: Journalism Her heart belongs to: Paris and the French lifestyle, her family, her friends that stay connected no matter how near or far, and kitties. And Adventure Time, of course. Take her away to: A sunny tropical paradise on the beach. Just the sight of the ocean makes her laugh with giddiness.

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