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How to bargain and haggle in Malaysia

Posted by on May 2nd, 2007
Filed Under: About Malaysia, Guides, Shopping

How to bragain and Haggle

Street Market: Chinatown

How to bargain and haggle in Malaysia (Shopping)

To bargain and haggle is a tradition in Malaysia as in many other neighboring countries. Unfortunately most Americans and Europeans are uncomfortable with it at best, and tried to avoid it totally. However a market shopping trip in Malaysia is never complete without a “bargain and haggle” session with the locals, and it is probably one of best local interaction experience to take back with you.A few simple tips on how to bargain and haggle will help you get the best for whatever you buy in Malaysia.

The art of how to bargain and haggle

#1 Do your research and know the market well.
Before trying to bargain and haggle, you should know what the item usually goes for, so that you don’t get fooled into paying more than what the product is really worth. Walk around the area, browse and examine, look and listen to what others are paying for similar items, before you start your own bargain and haggle session.

#2 Do not show any sign of enthusiasm for the item you want.
Look at several items; do not ask for prices yet, when you do, ask the prices of several items, does not matter if you are interested in them or not. Play your poker face and act that you do not really want these items unless they are cheap.

#3 Always let the merchant quote the price first before a haggle and bargain session. He will insist over and over “How much do you want to pay?” Wait him out and politely keep angling for his first asking price. Almost definitely, the first quoted price will be much higher than his intended price, ranging from 100% – 500%. Once he said it, look shocked.

#4 Start a counter offer in a bargain and haggle session with “Cheaper!”.
Despite what many other people have taught you to do in counter offer is to slash the price as much as you can in your first counter offer, the only thing that you should be saying is “Cheaper!”, and attempt to use it for a few times.

#5 When you have decided to name a price, make sure it is generally lower than what you will want to pay for it; which brings us back to rule #1, that you have to know the market well, because if you counteroffer with a ridiculously low price, the merchant will know that you do not know the market, and won’t be bother to do business with you.

#6 Remember to smile!
The merchant is much more likely to continue bargain and haggle with you. Getting angry rarely gets you the price you want.

#7 If you buy several items, get a discount.
It’s always easier to get a lower price if you buy several items, just like anywhere in the world.

#8 Don’t be afraid to walk away.
It’s one of those philosophical conundrums: you get the best price on an item if you can convince yourself that you really don’t need it. If you really can’t bring yourself to pay the merchant’s final price, thank him and walk away. Seeing a potential sale walking away, the merchant may meet your price (or at least offer a further discount). If not, then you’ve learned that the merchant’s price is firm, and look for alternative elsewhere, knowing the market better (there are often several shops selling similar items around).

#9 Don’t feel obligated to buy unless you’ve agreed on a price.
Distrust any merchant who tries to burden you with the feeling that you should buy because he has spent a lot of time with you. Leave the shop and don’t go back. You have no obligation whatsoever!

#10 The best time to bargain and haggle is at the end of the day.
Just when stores or booths are about to close! If you’re at a night market, go to the booth that seems the least busy, the merchant may be more willing to make a sale if he hasn’t had such a busy day.

#11 Once you agree on a price, you must buy the thing. If you can’t get the merchant down to a fair price, don’t buy it. But if he comes down to your asking price, you are honor-bound to purchase the item. Only pay what you’re willing to pay and be willing to pay fairly.

#12. Don’t bargain and haggle someone down and then ask for change, the merchant will suddenly not have the right change or something similar. Always have small notes and loose change prepared.

#13 Above all, don’t sweat a couple Ringgits. Many tourists take bargaining too seriously. Remember, the Malaysian people are working to feed their families, and those extra Ringgits mean much more to them than they do to you.

Good luck on your pursuit of getting the “best price”! Always remember these 13 tips on how to bargain and haggle. Be casual, wear your best smile, try your best and don’t get too emotional. A bargain and haggle session is supposed to be fun, so enjoy it.

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One Response »

  1. Nice article! Very helpful indeed.

    About Point #10, this may not necessarily be true. Sometimes, the merchant may sense that this is a ‘last gasp shopping before you head back home’ effort, and may deliberately prop up prices, and see if you’ll crack and buy something.