A lesson in saying “NO”
When we were in Delhi we made a visit to the Janpath Market and the Palika Bazaar in order to round out our Indian wardrobes. Overall it was a success, I walked away spending over 2,000 rupees and acquired 3 pairs of pants, 2 shirts, 4 scarves, a power plug adaptor, and only got totally ripped off by one rickshaw driver (the nasty man took us to the totally wrong spot, asked for twice what he agreed to at the beginning, and pretended like we were ripping HIM off. Thankfully the sum total loss was only 15 rupees, which is about 30 cents).
I’ve never had to really haggle before, and this was for sure a trial by fire approach! As soon as we walked into the packed, hot, outdoor market there are 4 men right in front of us holding wallets, wooden bongs, backgammon boards, fans, and all sorts of other nick-knacks.
“Excuse me, excuse me, wallet? You need bong, no? Good quality, I give you good price, Indian price, please, for you? For her? I give you good price.”
They would follow us for about a minute, trying to convince us we absolutely could not do without a wooden bong, and then would move on. A few were more persistent and needed a stern “NO.”
The vendors at their booths were no different, “please miss, come in, come to this shop, I give you good price, I give you Indian price, please come in, excuse me, look at t-shirts! Look at jeans, you need jeans? I have jeans! Please, excuse me, come in!” I don’t think I have ever said “no, thank you” so many times in a short 4 hour period! Or had so many offers to buy jeans at a “good price.”
What I learned about haggling today:
Ask a local woman on the sly what they would pay for an item.
When the shop owner gives you a price, no matter what it is, laugh and say “what??? No, WAY too high! Way too high” (and more often than not it IS way too high, like 5 times what the local woman told you) and offer something a little lower than what the woman told you.
The shop owner will say “not a good price, you have to give me a good price, that is way too low!” and will tell you either the same price he said before, or something insignificantly lower.
Tell him “no, no, too high” and repeat your price.
He will say more about the quality of the item (which isn’t really that high-quality), will try to get you to buy 2 for the original price (which is still ridiculously high), and will tell you that your price isn’t a good fair price. He will even start bagging the item, or items, even if you only wanted one, like the deal is already done.
Haggle for about 30 seconds, have your final price be a little higher than what the local woman said (I figure a little “tourist tax” is OK, especially when I am only paying the equivalent of $4 for a shirt or pair of pants) and if he does not budge on the price, say “no, sorry, I will go somewhere else.” And walk away.
The walking away is key.
Never fail, the shop owner will give in, and will give you the item for a little higher than the local price (usually $0.50 or $1 higher).
The frustrating part is that it happens EVERY time you want to buy something on the street! And it is the EXACT same progression. Apparently in real stores it is different and the price is fixed.