How Low Can You Go?

Hands firmly thrust in our coat pockets, we ventured into a small street. I looked at a wall of North Face and Oakley backpacks, while he peered at some silk ties in a neighbouring stall. I joined him as the girl showed him the calculator display.


He said nothing, and was preparing to leave with me. Three taps on the calculator in rapid succession, and again held to his face.
"Okay, $190. Cheap for you."
"No, thanks. Maybe we'll come back tomorrow."

I stepped outside, and my colleague tried to follow suit. Problem was, there was a girl in his way and she blocked him. Not the kind of block as in you happened to be in the way, but a block as in the most intentional kind: you don't want him to get by you with a basketball and make the throw.
"$50. $50! Okay?"
"No, it's okay. Really. Really."

He pushed by her, and we proceeded to leave. Heck, we would have made it too if it weren't for that sudden hand grasping his arm at the elbow.
"Okay, how much? How much you want?"

We politely smiled and told her we really couldn't buy it today. Tomorrow, instead. Our steps separated us from her and slowly engulfed us into darkness (but just a block away from the hotel). In the distance, she was relentless.
"Ten. $10! $10!"
"No. Thank you. To-mor-row."

As we walked, I chuckled: I now understood the extent of haggling possibilities. $10 RMB is just $1.25 USD or 1 EUR! My coworker, he looked at me with a big grin on his excited face.
"Tomorrow, let's go back. I'm going to buy the whole store!"


Mike said...

Very well written!
Man, that place can be dangerous for me and Diane.. we will buy everything in sight!

Ben said...

I just bought two Korean-made North Face bags (Recon series): a Recon for 80RMB () and a miniRecon for 60RMB ().

It was hilarious. They will always avoid your "how much" question and redirect with suggesting you check the quality out first, and pick a colour you like.

They started at $380 (each individual time) with some bullsh!t that they were already giving me the Chinese-people price. I set my goal at under 25%, and told them that was too much.

And it went like this:

"No, $80."
"What?? Noooo ... you can't get this quality for that kind of price. I'll give it to you cheaper: $300."
"Sorry, that's too much."
"$250! How about that? What colour do you want?"
"$180! That's a really good price."
"..." (I'm about to step away.)
"No, but thank you." (I'm walking.)
"$100!" (They're yelling down the hall to me.)
"Okay, okay, come back."

And I do. :-)

Always make price the biggest factor first (after you've mentally decided you want the bag), by bargaining it down until it's somewhere you like it. Then you pick a colour. If you do it the other way around, you're showing interest, and they get mad when you finally walk away without a sale. (I heard they sometimes chase you angrily.)


Kevin said...

I'm proud of you.

I had good times haggling in Shanghai. I'm sure I could have done better, but I was satisfied with my purchasing price, and that's all that matters. It's also important not to try following up and comparing prices with other vendors... because half the time you'll walk away unhappy.

Cyrus said...

Heheh... that's awesome. I paid the same price too for the North Face recon (coincidence??). I love it when they use the "Are you kidding me? No joke, OK? Give me No-Joke price, OK?" OR "You're Killing ME!!". Not sure if you also noticed that to prevent some other shopper from seeing how much you paid, they will say "I get you bag", and bring you to an adjacent stall where they find a plastic bag and get you to pay on the spot, away from the other shoppers. 'Dem chinese vendors are sneaky!!

Rose said...