Thursday, 12 December 2019

Bargaining in flea markets

Bargaining is an art that can help you bring down the price of a product in direct proportion to your skills. Connecting well with people and having a psychological advantage over salespeople also result in a good negotiation and can fetch you a better price than you had bargained for.
  • It's foolish not to bargain at a flea market. 
  • Bargaining is the accepted and expected method of finding a compromise between the merchant and the customer.
  • Prices can vary drastically among vendors at the same flea market. If prices aren't marked, assume there's a double price standard: one for locals and one for you. 
  • Watch to see what others would be charged. 
  • Usually traders raise the price to sometimes double the original cost. Ideally, one should bargain up to 20-30% of the quoted price.
  • Marked prices can distort your idea of an item's true worth. Many people think that if they can cut the price by 50% they are doing great. So the merchant quadruples his prices and the customer happily pays double the fair value. The best way to deal with crazy price tags is to ignore them. 
  • Before you even find out the price, determine the item's value to you, considering the hassles involved in packing it or shipping it home.
  • Merchants hate to lose a sale. Work the cost down, but if it doesn't match with the price you have in mind, walk away. That last amount the merchant hollers out is often the best price you'll get. If that price is right, go back and buy. Prices often drop at the end of the day, when merchants are about to pack up.
  • Keep a poker face and don't settle for the first counter-offer.
  • Cash speaks volumes at a flea market. Offer to pay cash instead of credit cards. They're often more willing to strike a deal if you pay cash, since they save on credit-card fees. Often, vendors don’t even accept another form of payment.
  • Look for defects. Inspect your item and point out the flaws prior to asking for a discount. If defects doesn't bother you much, you can bargain for additional discount too.
  • Don't hurry. Bargaining is rarely rushed. Make sure you are dealing with someone who has the authority to bend a price downward. Bid respectfully. If a merchant accepts your price, you must buy the item.
  • Don't show up in your designer duds and jewels and expect to get a discount. 
  • Remember to ask respectfully. Don't be too petty by haggling over small amounts. If your item is priced at Rs.1000 then don’t be stingy and offer Rs.50. The vendor needs to make money too. But make your offer a little lower than you are willing to pay so there is room for negotiation. A few rupees is worth more to the shopkeeper than to you.
  • Bargaining applies to goods, not to food sold at stands or outdoor produce markets. 
  • As in all areas of life, kindness matters at the flea market too.
  • Caution: If you buy an item (which you really don't need) at 40% discount, you haven't saved 40% but lost 60%. Buy only what you really need.

After retirement, I realized that while shops in malls, prices and discounts are fixed where we end up paying huge amounts not only for the higher quality goods but also for the ambiance, packaging and services. Similar goods, usually little lower in quality, are significantly cheaper and at times taxes not loaded in smaller shops. Hence I decided to buy most items from small street shops (rather than in malls) and never to indulge in tough bargain in flea markets but to just leave if I suspect prices are exorbitant.

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