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A guide to bargaining and avoiding being ripped off overseas

Shopping Overseas 
"Caveat Emptor"
"Let the buyer beware" 

The Art of Bargaining

One of the oldest and most basic human skills is bargaining, but many westerners have completely lost the art.

To bargain successfully the single most important factor is the apparent ability to walk away from the deal. Everyone knows you are relatively rich and can afford an exorbitant price. Therefore you must look convincing when replying to the pick-up truck driver who is asking $10 for a ten-mile ride--when other passengers are paying only a few dollars--"No, that's too much, I'll walk."

Your bargaining power is severely eroded if you look dead-tired, if you have already loaded your pack into the back, or if your over-protected-Danish-daughter companion is pleading with you to accept any price.

There is absolutely no need to pay $10 for the ride. The driver is not going to leave good money behind. That would be as foolish for him as you paying the first price he asks.

Bargaining Tips

  • Take your time. You don't have to rush into anything, including the back of a truck, taxi, or airplane. Make inquiries to find the average price. If you can't spare the time to discover the true value and quality of something, do you really want it?
  • You are bargaining from a position of strength if, and only if: 
    a)
    You are willing to walk away, or 
    b)
    You look like you're willing to walk away.
  • Offering a price half what the seller originally offers and working up from there is not always a good strategy. Some sellers quote at ten times true value. If you bargain to half or three-fourths of that--which many backpackers assume must be a reasonable price--you are still paying an outrageous mark-up. Such prices are often asked by hawkers who approach on the street with beads or jewelry. Aggressive sellers are usually looking for a sucker.
  • Merchants are usually motivated to sell at the beginning and at the end of the day.
  • Never fall for the age old bargaining scam of offering a fair price for the item, even if the price is very low.  Once you have spoken, you have lost your advantage because you are now trying to buy from vendors rather than having to sell to you.
  • avoid making purchases at congested tourist sites.  Vendors at these type of locations are less inclined to give you a good deal.
  • If you are interested in buying several of the same item, buy the first one at the best price you can get.  Find another shop with the same item, inspect the quality carefully and let it be known that you purchased the same item from another vendor.  The second vendor will  ask you how much you paid and may quote a lower price because he does not expect you to buy.  The other way to bargin with the second shop keeper is to offer a price 20 to 30% below the price you paid and see what happens.
  • Involve a supposedly antagonistic partner that tells you in front of the shopkeeper that he or she does not want to you buy the item, or that you don't have enough money for it.  At that point you offer less than what is asked, but within reason.  You might win.     
  • Presenting the correct amount you are offering in cash at the end of the bargaining deal might be you last ditch effort before you walk out of the store.  if you are close, you probably have a good chance if it's at the end of the day.

Beware of Purchasing Counterfeit Products

In recent years, commercial counterfeiting throughout the world has reached epidemic proportions, expanding beyond phony Rolex watches and knock-off French purses. Today’s commercial counterfeiting operations are organized, international crime rings, replicating everything from cameras, computers, clothes, medical devices and aeronautical goods to compact discs and agricultural equipment.  You name it it has probably been made into a counterfeit knock off goods. 

Be very wary of purchasing electronic goods from small stores overseas, it's a good bet that the product could be fake.  Other issues that have occurred to travelers purchasing good from small electronic stores are; bait and switch scams.  You are shown an item such as a Nikon camera.  You decide to purchase it and you are provided one in an un-opened box.  When you return home, a closer inspection of the lens of the Nikon camera states "Nikkon".  

Another reported scams have included purchasing electronic equipment with name brand shells (or body's) and inferior interior mechanisms

Remember when you purchase goods overseas always purchase from legitimate chain stores or else you might have to really understand the meaning of "Caveat Emptor - Buyer Beware." 


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