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Haggling In India

Discussion in 'Travel advice' started by jnorth88, Mar 7, 2016.

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  1. jnorth88

    jnorth88 Active Member

    Most prices in India are pretty fixed, like in shops and Western style stores, but many goods are still haggled over regularly. If you want tailoring, or services, these can be brought down easily without much trouble. But what are the best strategies for haggling in India? Any tips from locals?

  2. integrity101

    integrity101 Member

    I have a simple bargaining strategy: Ask for the price and, with a soft chuckle, give an extremely low price. He'll often smile and probably tell you, "no way." Go up a little bit just to show that you are ready to bargain. This will let him know that you are not some naive tourist he can easily fleece. Do not fall for sentimental ploys like "my family will starve if..." In fact try to act disinterested and even start walking out. Tell him the price is too much and you'd rather check the price in the other shops or stalls. Hold your ground and you'll get the best price. Always ask for a discount, especially when you are buying several items from the same stall or shop. In India, a discount is an unofficial right for every buyer of multiple items.
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  3. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Here are some tips I can give you with regards to haggling:
    • It helps if you can research the product before you buy. This way, you know your target price when you haggle.
    • Dress the part. Don't dress too extravagantly, leave the jewelries at home as well as any expensive looking item. This way, they won't think you're a rich customer, lol.
    • Be polite. Do not insult the seller or his products. Be courteous and ask nicely for the bargain price you want.
    • Have cash ready. I prefer cash just because it's more direct than credit card plus I don't think they accept credit cards in street shops. Prepare exact cash amounts and have your bills in smaller amounts.
    • Have some humour. Don't take haggling seriously, make the situation fun and light. This way, you might earn the seller's trust.
    Good luck!
    Chahal likes this.
  4. Geena

    Geena New Member

    When I was travelling in India, I used to jokingly look shocked at the prices they gave and always haggled between half the price or a quarter of the price in return. Not that I was being stingy, but it usually made them laugh so hard that they always end up giving me a good price all the same.

    I loved to break the ice this way and I've continued using this method for a lot of my travels especially in developing countries. Try it :)
  5. pwarbi

    pwarbi Active Member

    Haggling or bartering over a price, I've always found it best to keep the negotiations playful and try and get a bit of humour into the conversation, at least then the trader will know your not just trying to rip them off!

    Make sure you keep a smile on your face, and try and have a laugh and a joke with them, and build up some sort of bond with them, even if it is only for a few minutes and a way to get what you want at a cheaper price.
  6. jnorth88

    jnorth88 Active Member

    In other countries, I have used as my ultimate strategy to start walking away. Usually, they try to make a final, rock-bottom deal to get you to stay. I have used this in my previous trip to India, but only in Chennai. Would it work elsewhere inn the country?
  7. integrity101

    integrity101 Member

    It also pays to remember that haggling is simply part of the business deal with no malicious or thievery motives intended. So be kind and friendly to the merchant. Treat the entire exchange with a humorous touch and even try to learn more from the merchant about other related products you may need during your stay. You may even end up creating lasting friendships through haggling.
  8. pwarbi

    pwarbi Active Member

    If it works for you in one part of the country I wouldn't have thought that it wouldn't work for you in another. At the end of the day in this situation then people are all the same, and they want to achieve the best deal for them, while we, the consumers, are trying to do the same for ourselves.
  9. amelia88

    amelia88 Active Member

    Honestly, I must be one of the people out there that hates haggling. I always feel like I'm either being ripped off, or ripping someone else off by trying to offer too low of a price! I always, always prefer to go to a fixed price type store or market...for me it just takes some of the stress out of it (the times I've tried to haggle it's been pretty intense, and I'm really bad at it which doesn't help!)

    Does anyone else feel this way? Like they're being an inconsiderate tourist by trying to low-ball the price of goods? I mean I know it's 100% okay (and encouraged!) in a lot of places to haggle...but I can't help but feel that in a lot of the places that I've travelled that a bit of extra money is better off with the families who are running these shops (and trying to support their families by doing so!) than me trying to get a super cheap handbag or sunglasses or whatever!
    Maja, pwarbi and Steve Dawson like this.
  10. Steve Dawson

    Steve Dawson Member

    No, I feel the same way Amelia. If I feel that the price is fair then I'm happy to pay it. If I think a price is too high for what I'm trying to buy I just don't buy it. I think its because its not really practised in the UK. When I travel to India with my wife, who is Indian, she will dive right in and start bargaining for a good price straight away, usually quite successfully, but she has explained to me that as she is a native Indian, she will always be able to get a cheaper price than me. I'm lucky to have an expert haggler by my side as I'm so useless at it myself.
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  11. amelia88

    amelia88 Active Member

    You are lucky! I bet it helps a lot being able to have her do the haggling. I definitely think if it's something you're accustomed to it would be easier...but I'm in the same boat as you - haggling is never done here in the States (in fact you'd probably get a bizarre stare or be told to leave if you tried!) so I'm just not used to it. I'm pretty much the same in that if I think it's a fair price then I'm happy to pay it. If not, I just say that it's okay and continue browsing or move along. If they then offer me a lower price then that's up to them, but I hate playing the mind games!
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  12. pwarbi

    pwarbi Active Member

    It's not my favourite thing to do I must admit, but in certain parts of the world, they'll expect you to try and knock the price down a but, so right from the start their prices will be a lot more expensive than they should be.

    No matter how much I dislike haggling, I like being ripped off even less so I'm prepared to do it, just because it means I'm not being taken advantage of and overcharged.
    amelia88 likes this.
  13. amelia88

    amelia88 Active Member

    Yup - my sister took a trip to China and was looking at a market at knock off designer branded make up brushes. When they gave her a price she walked right away because she thought it was overpriced and then immediately they tried to offer her a price that was basically 50% less! So you can see how much they probably inflate the price for tourists, so I totally get where you're coming from about not liking to be ripped off!
    pwarbi likes this.
  14. pwarbi

    pwarbi Active Member

    As a tourist in any country I think we can expect to pay a little more than the locals, but 50% more is a bit too much for anyone to be expected to pay.

    When it comes to haggling a price, us in the west don't have any experience of it, so going to any country where it's the normal thing to do, is always going to be a little awkward.
  15. Maja

    Maja Member

    I don't know how to haggle. Even if I wanted to, I can't seem to get myself to ask for a lower price for what the other person is selling. If I think that the given price is steep, I'll just walk away. I only buy what I can afford and what's within my budget whenever I'm in another country.
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  16. pwarbi

    pwarbi Active Member

    I think a lot of people will probably do the same as if in your own country it's not the done thing, then you're simply just not used to it.

    Haggling takes a certain amount of confidence, and it's going to take time to build that confidence up to a level where you not only feel comfortable about getting the right price in the end, but you can have a little fun with it along the way.
  17. martinearletara

    martinearletara New Member

    I successfully haggled a few times in India and actually won. I must admit it was done in English, which made it a bit easier seeing that they seems pretty compassionate towards selling the rug to a tourist.

    Like pwarbi stated, it does take a certain amount of confidence in order to make it work. But if I can do it, I'm sure anyone can if they put forth a decent effort.
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  18. pwarbi

    pwarbi Active Member

    It's mainly about building up that rapport aswell with the seller. If you trust that they're not going to be overcharging you, and they trust that your not going to be there to get a super cheap bargain, then I think you'll usually be able to find a common ground and a fair price.

    If you start off by offering a ridiculous amount then the seller will go the other way and not budge on an amount that even they know is overpriced and you'll then be stuck at a stalemate, and neither of you will want to back down.
  19. OursIsTheFury

    OursIsTheFury Member

    Let's face it, if you are a tourist, the locals are going to be much more lenient to you when it comes to prices. All you have to do is be polite, ask nicely for a price reduction, and if they see that it is fair, they do it. It's kind of unfair, really, that most people treat their tourists better than one of their own, but I guess it's how the world works. Good luck with the buying game, make sure to be respectful with their decisions, and you will be just fine.
  20. pwarbi

    pwarbi Active Member

    I'm not sure if that's true entirely, as some have been known to do the opposite and charge even more because they're a tourist and aren't used to haggling over a price.

    If the buyer is obviously a tourist, then some sellers will start the offer around 50% higher than what they would with anybody else, as they know that usually a tourist will try to knock them down 25%. The seller will agree and the tourist will walk off thinking they've got a good deal, when really they've still bought the item for 25% more than what the starting price should have been in the first place.
  21. integrity101

    integrity101 Member

    Another strategy is to learn a few Hindi phrases and you'll appear as one who has been in the country for a long time. You'll come out as a person who knows his way, and prices, around town and not some gullible tourist.
    pwarbi likes this.
  22. pwarbi

    pwarbi Active Member

    Even if you learn a few phrases, you'll still srmtand out as a tourist,,but at least you'll have shown that you have made an effort to fit in with their culture, and that means a lot.

    It might not get you the item you want any cheaper, but at least they'll respect you more while you're haggling!
  23. ellajanelle

    ellajanelle New Member

    The best advice I could give about haggling would have to be meeting halfway. I would usually go to the market with my aunt (she's Chinese, not to mean anything here). What I noticed is that she really gets great deals out of haggling! Her secret is that for example, the price is $50, she'd say what about $10? Then the vendor's going to lower the price to, say, $40. She's gonna say $20, then eventually they're gonna meet at $30, which is a really huge discount!
  24. Normad

    Normad New Member

    I guess different people have different ways of dealing with situations. Just the thought of trying to haggle over the price of something is daunting to me. I always pay the price they ask if I really want the item. I can either afford it or I can't. I feel like I'm taking advantage of the seller and I'd feel bad because they work so hard and they need the money.
  25. GammaRay

    GammaRay Member

    All the tips here are great but the one thing I'll share is don't haggle with any shopkeepers who look poor beyond compare because they're probably doing it to live and not to earn an income. Sometimes a little charity is needed especially when someone looks like they're starving but still retain a sense of pride from buying and selling. Haggle at the right place and the right time.
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