From trying to get a fair price for that knock off handbag or tailored suit to trying not to be ripped off by taxi drivers, haggling is something all travellers have to deal with.
So I want to know what are your best (or worst) haggling tales from across the globe?
I once accidentally haggled for something I didn’t want. I managed to purchase a little silver tea set in India because I stupidly enquired about the price even though I didn’t actually want it… As I walked off uninterested he chased me down the street yelling lower prices at me until I turned around and said I didn’t want it. He then asked what I’d pay for it and I said RS100 (which was 12x less than his initial price) – at which he jumped, shook my hand and dragged me down the street back to his shop!
I gave it to a friend as a birthday present because she loves tea – got kudos for such a ‘thoughtful present’… :/
Michael Huxley Haha that's pretty awesome! Glad you got a use out of it!
Well, this is particularly recent, but it will certainly go down as one of my favorites.
Tuesday I was riding in downtown Dakar with my friend, who has lived here three years, driving. It was busy, tons of traffic, etc. Some parking attendants were helping her back out and backed her into a car that was double parked on the street. A soccer ball sized dent was the result.
We got out, he got out, the parking attendants gathered along with a crowd. My friend offered her insurance, but the guy would have to pay money to get the cops to even come out, which of course he didn’t want to do. He just wanted cash instead asking for $50. The parking guys kept saying that was way too much and bystanders took sides. Fifteen minutes and $20 later, everyone went home happy. The guys was obviously not going to use the money for repairs, as evidenced by the other dents in the car, so it was essentially a peace offering.
It was, all in all, hilarious. Where in the US can you get into a fender bender and walk away after paying $20? And it served as afternoon entertainment for everyone.
Michael Huxley Love it! Gotta love a mass community haggling session!
I don’t generally haggle, but had a fun experience a couple years ago.
I wanted bookshelves for my flat in Ahmedabad, and didn’t want the knock-off Ikea pressed wood stuff, so thought I’d make the Indian version of the college dorm bookshelf (cinder blocks are hard to come by).
A family, just inside the boundary of Gandhi Ashram, sells pottery water jugs. So, silly me, I try to buy 6 of them from her. “No, I don’t want the metal spouts, just the jugs”, I tell the guy that is delivering another supply. I offer her Rs500 for 6 jugs. I SHOW her the Rs500 note. She says no.
A few days later I get my “assistant” (you’d call him a rickshaw driver, but he handles other things that I need as well) and tell him that I WANT 6 stupid jugs and really don’t want to drag all over town to buy them.
He goes, WITH ME, and pays her Rs350 for the same 6 jugs. Go figger. Bookshelf works nicely
Michael Huxley In less politically correct parlance I guess you were getting stung by what used to be known as the white mans tax! Bummer! Glad you got it sorted in the end though mate!
PirateAt50 Ya'd think that, but.. I'd been living here a while. She'd have known that I live "next door".
I’m terrible at haggling. Taxis are the worst.
Last year in Kyrgyzstan we were trying to get a taxi from Irkeshtam on the Chinese border to Osh, across 250km of nothingness (public transport was not running). After 4 hours of standing around, the price, which started at 1500 som ($30) per person did not drop at all and in fact went up to 1800 som. The price for locals was 700 som at most, we would have settled for 1000 each but despite there being only a couple of cars and no other customers the drivers were determined not to let us get away cheap.
The border officials and other people hanging around this tiny makeshift border village, whilst sympathetic, did not want to go against the taxi mafia. Excuses included the higher price of petrol and the inability to get a return ride. There were lots of trucks passing through and we knew it was possible to hitch a ride, but they tried to convince us it was illegal for foreigners to ride in trucks and that we’d get stopped by the police, and if in spite of that we did decide to risk it, the taxi would catch us up a few kilometres down, in the middle of the lawless no-man’s land and hold us up, forcing us to take the taxi or pay a bribe or worse, indeed one of the drivers was seen carrying a knife… We were also next to a major smuggling route for opium coming from Afghanistan.
Somehow we fell for all this nonsense and it got dark and a bit scary so we found a kind lady shop owner who got us a brilliant room in this border village. The next morning we went to the gas station to try to stop a truck, eventually we found one Uighur driver who was willing to take us, but the taxi mafia were still on patrol and poking their noses around. After half an hour of negotiations, and it seemed like our poor truck driver might have had to give a bribe to be allowed to take us, we were on our way, though for the first half hour of descent we were still really paranoid that we were being followed. In the end though it was the best ride ever through astounding scenery, all 11 hours of it because trucks go really slow. We gave him a little money though it looked like he wasn’t expecting any at all .
Michael Huxley I am with you on the taxi mafia! They are prevalent in many countries across the world. They'd rather sit and earn nothing than charge you a fair rate half of the time! I'd say one of the biggest portion of hassles I have ever faced on my travels have come from them! They are also responsible for the few times I have allowed myself to - well let's just say react - as well. The only reason they do it is because people allow them to get away with it. Quite a few times I have non commitally got into the car allowing them to quote whatever price they liked. I did not haggle, barter or even offer an alternative. Got to my destination, put the money on the seat to the value the fare SHOULD be, and walked away.
22camels Way to go! Not sure you could get away with that lightly everywhere though :)
Lottie Gross Ooh speaking of truck drivers, my Spanish housemate and I were trying to get a truck to Marsabit in Kenya last year and after intitally agreeing on 400ksh (100ksh more than everyone else was paying), the driver decided he wasn't happy enough and put the price up to 1000ksh! We were outraged and after about half an hours shouting and debating (where the entire village we were in came to our rescue and took our side), we had to walk away because he wasn't budging!
We ended up sat in a lovely old woman's shop until a water truck came past and the lovely Kenyan driver and Chinese passenger gave us a FREE lift the whole way! And we got to sit in the cabin rather than on top which was MUCH more comfortable! Sometimes it works out better to say no I guess!
Michael Huxley 22 Camels, it is certainly a tactic that relies on me being 6"2 and confident in my ability to look after myself! haha!
Lottie I'm totally with you! Just refuse to give into the theiving sods! Noone minds paying a fair amount but noone wants to be ripped off either! Those that give in just make it harder for the next backpackers!
As an infrequent shopper my haggling is more day-to-day needs like
taxi,s and general transport around cities!!!
And sometimes out of way borders for money exchange where no bank/atm
Believe a good way it to be firm,relatively informed and in control
An incident on taxi on arrival into Tunis airport where a downtown bus
aprox $2—taxi boys opened at $20 but nope i said bus for me and proceeded
to walk to bus stop which i struggled to locate but out of corner of my eye a driver
slipped quietly away and drove up to me “$5 sir” —after 30 hr flight could have paid
$20 but $5 better by haggling
Money exchange circa 1985 in Egypt was 1,20 pound to $ but 1.80 black market
They continualy “haggled” to changed when you did,nt want—5 times in 10 minutes
annoying so i said give me 2.20 pound to dollar –your mad they said
That set me up for future haggling at my advantage or well being