Free Ebook.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

« Relax with a "Gone-Fishing" Portfolio | Main | Star Money Articles and Carnivals for the Week of June 20 »

June 23, 2011


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

It is a good question. After getting the answer I may then ask:

"Can you do better than that?" Often the answer (especially overseas) is yes.

You have to realize that different cultures spend much more time negotiating. It can be ridiculous. I wanted to buy a T-Shirt in Tanzania of Kilimanjaro since I had just climbed the mountain, the normal price is about $10. The starting price with these hagglers was $80! It took 30 minutes of negotiating / discussion to get the price down to $10. I countered the $80 offer with $2 and it went from there. Really it was super annoying but I was leaving that day and had to buy the shirt.


I think it is a pretty good term, especially here in the US. At garage sales or rummage sales this could be especially useful. Many yard salers will believe that they have the "best price" already listed on their items, but the savvy ones will understand the value in negotiating. If you are haggling abroad, you will want to be sure that you do not insult the seller. Granted, they will expect you to haggle with them, but you also do not want to offend them by offering too low of a price, or seeming cheap. After all, we (Americans) likely have a great deal more wealth than they do, and can afford to pay more.

LOL Mike that is hilarious!!!! :-) I use this question all the time when negotiating and it has saved me thousands for sure. An even more discomforting, yet effective technique, is to reply (with the upmost respect), “that price is unacceptable”. Then pause in silence looking at the seller. 7 out of 10 times the seller has countered with a better price for me. If that is to abrasive for you then say something like, “oh man my wife/husband would kill me if I paid that much, I really would like to do business with you – are you sure you can’t do better than that”.

I love negotiating.

It can rarely hurt to use it so if you're ballsy enough, why not? I'm usually too timid in negotiations to really force a good price.

I had a similar experience on my first trip to Kathmandu, Nepal in 1981. I was walking back to my hotel from Durbar Square, the center of the city, when this little kid of about 10 years old approached me and said, "Do you want to buy some bracelets for your lady?". These were thin, brass colored, bracelets with a decorative pattern and of the type where women often wear several on one wrist. My reply was "How much?". He said "Five for a dollar". I countered with "I'll give you a dollar for 10." The bargaining continued all the way back to the hotel and he gradually increased the number as we walked back but I stuck to my guns and insisted on getting 10. Finally as we got to the hotel where he wouldn't have got past the doorman, he said "O.K. I'll give you 10". I handed over the dollar bill and I will never forget his parting remark, it was "You must be a very poor man!"

On subsequent trips with my wife to 3rd. world countries we collected lots of things from back home to give to the street children and took an extra duffle bag with us full of T-shirts, pencils, pads, crayons, stickers, balloons etc. My wife, who is the opposite of me in several ways, would start distributing them and I would stand back taking pictures. I have some great pictures of her surrounded by large groups of happy, smiling faces. That's where I learned the pleasure of giving, but it was a hard lesson for me.

"What's your best price" is just a starting point, especially in culture where bargaining is the norm. I have had similar experiences of starting (and even "best") prices at least 10 times higher than what we finally settled at.

Usually, I overpay somewhat to get the deal done. Example: Once I have the $10 "best price" reduced to $3, I will probably pay it. I know I could have got it down to around $1, but at that point I prefer to spend my vacation time doing something else.

Really you have no idea what a fake purse is worth on the street. So whatever you pay, it is probably too much.

In the US, private sellers are usually very poor at bargaining. Whether buying a car or a second-hand chair, you can usually get a good discount off the asking price with minimal effort. As a buyer, you just have to have the courage to name a very low number to start with - which is not so easy looking a seller eye-to-eye.

Just watch the TV show, Pawn Stars and you typically see a wide spread between the seller's and the buyer's initial price. They usually meet closer to the buyer at the end, if they make a deal. (Of course, many of these sellers may be desparate for cash to gamble in Vegas...)

As an American who's bartered in China and Turkey it's really not that good. People never believe you when you say it, and always want to continue haggling.

That said, I've found that "I've told you my best price" is a good thing to say as they keep asking for more. Then just walk away. If you were honest about your best price it's the best strategy.

Haggling on a whole is extremely annoying. After doing it a fair bit I much prefer "fixed-price" stores. Much less work to go shopping.

A phrase that works for me, after the "best price" is quoted: Look deeply regretful, shake me my head and say 'sorry it just doesn't work for me.' Although I usually avoid haggling; hate it.

Sure, sometimes it works. As some examples, here are two bargaining experiences...

1) In Turkey, I'm negotiating for a silver necklace. After hearing my counter, the salesman smacks his hand down on the counter and says "That's an impossible price!" I answer..."Not if you're willing to give it to me." Everyone laughs. I wind up getting my price.
2) It works in the US too -- especially for jewelry. Before our wedding, my husband and I go ring shopping at the local mall. My husband falls in love with a band out of our price range. The first clerk isn't interested in negotiating. I walk around the store until I find someone who looks ready to sell. I tell her our story...we negotiate a $1500 discount.

Once on a business trip to the UK, TWA allowed us a free stopover in Casablanca, Morocco on the way home that I took advantage of. I was in the Casbah looking for a big leather bag to bring home the things I had bought. While I was examining a really nice quality one made from camel leather I took out a cheapo 4 function calculator that I had with me to convert the local price into dollars. Hand calculators seemed to be non-existent in Casablanca in the late 70's and the seller was so impressed with my cheapo calculator that he gave me the leather bag in trade for it. That was one of my best buys ever. BTW, if you're ever over there I recommend going to one of the many "men only" clubs in the evening to watch the belly dancing!

In India, I noticed that if you didn't start at around 10% of the seller's price, or less, and then be ready to walk away, I wasn't getting anywhere. Almost every negotiation, I had to start walking away from. The vendor would usually chase after me 9 times out of 10.

Then I'd tell my Indian co-workers what price I bought something for and they'd always complain I got taken. This was after the extensive negotiations each time. I tried going as low as they suggested, but every time, the seller relented and said it wasn't possible to sell so low. It was amazing. And irritating.

I used to hear that all the time when I sold used cars. Didn't faze me. "Sir/Ma'am, the price I've given you is the best price. If you want a lower price, we can look at a vehicle with different features or a different model." Wasn't completely true, but a guy needs to make a living.

this is a great thread. I dont travel much these days, but these tales of international haggling are most entertaining indeed. Old Limeys calculator trade gave me a good chuckle. Reminded me of a trip to Europe in 1970 something where a street vendor offered to buy the "Uncle Sam Wants You" shirt right off my back. which I found odd considering all the anti- American sentiment I was encountering. American policy they didn't like, things Americana they loved. And i was just a 14 year old kid at the time, with a most disinterest in things political. I just wanted to look at girls and art while i was there. But I digress... I have found that it can pay to ask; even the 800 number mail order catalog houses here in the USA will sometimes allow a limited amount of haggling, offering a reduced item price if you offer to by 3 or more. Works nice if you really wanted one in each color anyway.

I have used "What's your best price?" before, and also "What do you need for this?" and "What do you have to have for this?" All of these phrases get sellers thinking about their bottom line.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Start a Blog


  • Any information shared on Free Money Finance does not constitute financial advice. The Website is intended to provide general information only and does not attempt to give you advice that relates to your specific circumstances. You are advised to discuss your specific requirements with an independent financial adviser. Per FTC guidelines, this website may be compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs or otherwise. All posts are © 2005-2012, Free Money Finance.