Wednesday, July 23, 2008
How to Haggle in China
Today Rachel and I went to the Old City section of Shanghai (see picture). Thinking, as we have several times before, that we wouldn’t be spending any money. It’s the older part of town, and most of the sites are temples and churches, but there were several shopping markets along the way. One of which is a mecca for electronics and other great finds. I bought some gifts for people and therefore can’t mention details about all of our purchases, but here’s our formula for haggling.
1. First, I show interest in the product. Ask questions, finger it, nod, smile, all the while formulating a price I’d like to pay. Keep in mind the exchange rate right now is 6.8 rmb to 1 dollar, and in China often you can get things for half of what you might pay in the U.S.
2. Second, I ask the price. Rachel and I grimace in unison at stated price. Look hurt.
3. We discuss under our breath in English. Mention things that could go wrong with product.
4. About this time the salesperson begins lowering the price on his/her own as we show doubt. We let him/her lower the price as much as he/she seems willing without prompting.
5. Next, we counter offer with a little below what we want it for. Then it’s time for the salesperson to grimace, look hurt, sigh, and shake head.
6. We increase our price slightly, to what we want to pay. Rachel can speak Chinese, and so often they turn to her and begin conversing, thinking they can pull her onto their side and get her to coax me. She’s firm.
7. If the salesperson is still wavering, I begin looking around in exaggeration (this works best when there are several salespeople who are selling the same thing within one market or area).
8. I put money on the table, the exact amount that I want to pay, and tell the salesperson it’s all I have.
9. Finally, if the salesperson hasn’t budged yet, Rachel tells him/her in Chinese that we want to look around and might come back later. This is the clincher, because they know we won’t be back. Then they whine, slam things around, and give the product to us at last for what we want to pay.
10. We walk away smiling.
Needless to say, we made out like bandits. Here’s what I got for approximately $56 (USD):
• Two tiny MP3 players—ipod imitations. Literally one inch by one inch. MUCH better for working out than my clunky dinosaur ipod mini. 1 GB each.
• 5 pairs of underwear
• 1 bendable lighter, 1 specialty lighter,
• 3 strings of pearls (China is definitely the place to get real beauties)
• Hand-carved “gift” made from Chinese redwood (the one I’d been eyeing in the States was about $200)