Haggling is not for everyone and not everyone is good at it.
True hagglers know that it is not about undercutting the seller or over charging the buyer. Haggling is the ancient art of negotiating a mutually beneficial deal over fine and often blurry lines.
|Haggle when prices aren’t marked||Don’t haggle when prices are clearly marked (with few exceptions)|
|Have fun, smile and be friendly||Don’t waste time haggling, if you spend 10 minutes to save a dollar it’s a waste of time.|
|Be realistic in your offer||Don’t be a bully or rude|
|Use cash rather than plastic||Don’t beg|
|Don’t take counter offers personally||Don’t lose your temper|
Farmers markets. Prices vary from day to day, especially produce and perishables.
Craft markets. Prices on handmade goods are normally up for negotiations, but take into consideration that the person selling the product might not be the one who made the product and might not be as flexible with the price.
A flea market is also a great place to haggle. There is plenty of competition for sellers.
Haggle when it is socially acceptable. Some cultures thrive on it, others will laugh in your face if you offer a price other than what is marked. Negotiating makes shopping a social event where people interact with each other.
When your highest offer for an item is detrimental to the seller, walk away. You never know how that price may affect the seller.
I once stopped on the side of the road in a rural Ugandan village to buy a strip of rubber to make a slingshot. The kid, maybe 9 or 10 years old, wanted $1 for the piece of rubber. I offered him 50 cents and a set of pens and pencils, an offer I thought was more beneficial to him. His response to me was, “I am sorry but my father will abuse me.” I was stunned, and realize that extra 50 cents really didn't matter that much.
Some things have firm prices, and are often set by someone other than the seller, as with this kid in Uganda.
There is nothing worse than a tourist arguing over pennies just because they heard someone say “You should always haggle”.
You know the type. The rude-demanding-sun-burnt-cheapskate tourist who wants a $2 scarf, left arm and right toe from a crippled kid in the Cambodian market for 20 cents while his double-dipped-chocolate ice cream melts all over the floor. The “I-demand-a-discount” for my gourmet Kangaroo pizza because it was too cold, bland and tasteless even though I finished it all and said nothing while eating it.
Don’t be that guy. You give yourself and other travelers a bad name.
Everything has a time and a place. Haggling is no different.