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When you think about it, shopping in the US and most of Europe is very simple.  In some other areas, bargaining is the way you buy things.  Our article introduces you to bargaining and some rules you need to know about when bargaining internationally. 


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Travel Advice -   Brush up on those bargaining skills

Sometime during one of your trips abroad, you are going to shop in a place where there are no set prices. From the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul to street vendors in Paris, you will find sellers who want to bargain with you and bargain you should.

Most Americans have become so used to “sticker” shopping that we are uncomfortable bargaining with a shopkeeper to get to the “real” price of an item. In our society, “haggling” appears to be a lost art, something of an embarrassment, and an incredible time killer. Can you imagine someone in the line at the grocery telling the clerk that he or she thinks that bottle of milk is worth, “…say a dollar”?

In some countries, bargaining is a way of life and part of the fun in experiencing the culture. In addition, bargaining is fine way to get a discount on goods that might be “overpriced”.


There are some basic rules of bargaining that you should not forget. The most important rules are:

  • Don’t bargain unless you intend to buy.
    •  Doing so may be regarded as an affront by the vendor.
  •  Never, set a price that you would be willing to pay and then back-away from the price.
    • Such behavior is regarded by the seller as an insult and unethical.
      • If you name a price and back away from the price, the vendor may start verbally abusing you and, in some countries or venues, continue heaping epithets at you as he follows you around the shopping area.
    • In some cultures, such behavior can lead to a meeting with the local police.
  • Once a negotiation is entered, you should not get out of it until you purchase the item or come to a point in the negotiation where the price is still too high and neither party will budge.

Before you start bargaining, you should have some idea of the value of the object of your desire. The best practice is to cruise around and “comparison shop”. Ask other what they paid for items they purchased. If you are interested in purchasing items that are more expensive, read our article Looking for a bargain? Do the research.

As for bargaining strategies, everybody has an opinion on the winning strategy but success goes back to knowing the value of the object and what you would be willing to pay to own it. Start with a price thirty to forty percent below your limit and make your next move on the seller’s reaction.

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