I have thought long and hard about whether I should comment on this subject, but seriously; tight-fisted bargaining is not very attractive and demeans us in the eyes of the locals – Westerners can afford to travel, for many Easterners, this will never be an option. Within SE Asia, mainly Laos and Cambodia two nations are becoming unpopular, one European and one Middle Eastern.
That 50 cents we bargain so hard for: may mean the difference as to whether the locals eat protein that day, education for their children or medical care.
Many Lao’s and Cambodian’s live in spaces the size of my garden shed and certainly with more people than the Western 2.4 child average, they are not living high on the hog – no electricity, running water or toilet facilities.
Certainly there is a big difference between tourist prices and being ripped off. One of the aforementioned European women took great delight in telling us how she had bargained for over 1 hour to save 15,000 kip on the bus journey from Luang Prabang to Vientiane, with water included. We’re talking US$1.50 here – how much would she be earning in Euros per hour back home?
Please visit, enjoy and bargain – all expected and part of the fun of travelling to these regions – but keep it in perspective. Unmercifully screwing the locals to gain an extra day away from home makes us all look bad.
Please feel free to comment on my viewpoint
#1 marianwarren has been a member since 12/3/2006. Posts: 270
Completely agree with you...
I was in Laos last year and often didn't bargain much at all - they usually started at a sensible price and at most I'd bargain a tiny bit off it or just pay the asking price. They were happy, I was happy and all was good!
I think the key to a successful negotation is for both parties to be happy with the agreed price at the end... If you've got money, don't begrudge those that don't an extra $1 or so... feel good about yourself and make them happy! You'll make their day!
If you really want to practice bargaining, head to Morocco - it's hard work to get them to knock much off at all, but you need to negotiate as the prices they start at are often expensive for Europe!
This topic came up before, and there were some pretty good suggestions on bargaining etiquette in this previous message board thread at:
I remember I had to learn this the hard way when back in 1984 I realized I'd argued for 15 minutes to save 10 cents. Shame on me, but I've tried to never repeat that humiliating experience.
The trick is to understand that while they'd likely sell it for less, I'd still be willing to pay more. Splitting that difference is a win-win situation. On more than one occasion in Thailand I've agree to the asking price, and had the vendor refund a small portion of it, say 20B, telling me that the lower price was the real price. Those moments are priceless to me, worth way more than whatever I paid. The fun of shopping for me is interacting with the folks doing the selling. Regards.