By Osama Rahman
Being born in this part of the world (specially), breathing teaches you to know the art of three things. First, you must know how to stare at foreign people, second, how to spit wherever and lastly, how to HAGGLE. Without these three skills, you are pretty much going to be run out of the sub-continent. It's a fact really.
Now, taking for granted that you can totally excel in the first 2 art forms, let's focus on the third; The Art of Haggling. It may seem very difficulty and some may find it rather pride-killin' (yours truly, included), but it just has to be learned. Without it, everything you buy will cost you 55 times more than someone who knows how to haggle, or maybe a little less than that. Anyway, you must learn how to do it. So, let's just take a detour through the Bargain Route and see how it's done.
Tried And Tested Tricks
Instead of just surfing the net and finding out the tricks, this time I focused on asking someone who is quite the 'bargainer', if you may. 45-Year old Shad Husamuddin, imparted some of his wisdom, when it comes to driving down prices.
'If the price at a particular price isn't fixed, they'll always ask for more. And more so incase of fashion accessories, groceries and electronics.' 'The best thing is to have an idea about how much whatever you are purchasing costs. Thus you have a little idea and so you can get yourself a good bargain' he says.
Shopkeepers always charge more because they want to make a profit and when it comes to bargaining, they study your body language. 'When you state a price, state it firmly, with confidence and this'll make the shopkeeper believe that you know the price and thus it'll be easier for you to get a bargain.' He continued. It seems lack of confidence would result in higher prices.
The last offer
Whatever price you give, and if you are confident that you aren't undervaluing, then make sure that you say its your last price and if the seller insists on a higher price, then just walk away. Statistics show that you will be called back and a lower price will be asked for than originally quoted.
Walking away is a trick most women use, after looking through a thousand outfits, they choose one, state a price and walk away, thus influencing the seller to give up. 'The seller is there to sell, and he will sell to make a profit, but he will sell, if he feels he gets a good price' Husamuddin adds with finality.
From personal experience, I have seen that it pays to be friendly when it comes to bargaining. If goodwill is developed, then the shopkeeper may give in to a lower price, but if you are rude and bossy, he'll just refuse to sell, because shopkeepers are more stubborn than Iranian mules.
19-year old Joshim feels that it is best to not stick with one shop but to go around and look for the same thing in different shops. 'Most shops will state a lower price and thus you can have an idea about the lowest price you can name' he says. I think that is something called 'Comparative Shopping' but I am not really sure.
Finally, all seasoned bargainers stress that you should never look too interested in anything that you are purchasing, because that'll let the ball roll into the sellers' court and thus high prices will ensue. Always look disinterested and vague, even as clueless as Britney Spears in a classroom, but control your emotion.
If you look too disinterested the keeper will feel you don't need anything but you have just come to haggle as a past time, since you have nothing better to do with your life.
And Then Some
Sometimes it best to just quit haggling and buy something, specially when the difference between your offer and theirs is a few taka, because if you are willing to pay Tk.150, then there's no point in refusing to pay Tk.170. Your benefit shouldn't eclipse theirs because if it a does, the deal may break down. And don't haggle over 3 taka with rickshaw-pullers too while you are at it, because that just doesn't make sense.
Whatever price you offer, make sure it's not ridiculous, because that makes you look stupid. If something is being sold for tk.200, don't say you want to pay tk.6 for it, because that's stupid and that'll just make people laugh at you.
But if you feel you are being asked for too much, for something, for e.g tk.200 for a bunch of bananas, but you want to offer 120. State that, and it is likely he will ask for tk.190. If this aggravates you, ask for less than your first amount and soon the result will be an agreeable price.
I have tried these methods and have found some success, but I must admit that I haven't succeeded all that well. Maybe because I was bargaining at Agora and they have a fixed price. But hopefully you will act sensibly.
My final advice is that, if a seller agrees to your price too earnestly, you are robbing yourself, so next time be careful. And also when choosing to shop far away to get a better value, consider the amount spent on transit. Hopefully you will become an expert bargainer in no time.
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayeed