The gift of the gab: Getting a bargain overseas

Here at home I never bargain the price, but in China, at times, I found it very easy and did

Here at home I never bargain the price, but in China, at times, I found it very easy and did not accept a compromise easily. It’s also fun and gives an amazing sense of accomplishment. But as I saw, it is very easy to forget. My grandson, who has lived in China for over 10 years fell into the trap. He met me at the airport, all excited of course. A private taxi guy approached him and details were given. He was astonished when the guy charged him nearly four times the usual fare. He had forgotten to negotiate a price before he got into his car. He got into big trouble from his Chinese wife. He had talked to the driver in Chinese so I was unaware.

The fact that I don’t speak Chinese is not so important, it’s the numbers that count. I know the numbers and I know enough of the language to get by. But it always helped to know ahead of time how much the right fare is or have a general idea of how far I needed to go. It’s not only foreigners that bargain. My grandson lives outside the city so they always need a taxi. They often use a private taxi to go out, but from the city to home they use public taxis. I often watched my granddaughter-in-law argue the price. She told me that if they quoted a high price she dropped hers down to under the accepted price. They either drove off or agreed.

Some bargaining occasions were very funny. At the airport one young lad bargained hard with me, but I would not budge till he came close then I upped my price a bit. He settled. But this negotiating took about 10 minutes and involved much laughter and both of us walking off pretending we did not care. It was a 45 minute drive and all the way he huffed with a grin on his face and showed me how much he had to pay at each toll gate. I laughed – he knew I had won, but he also knew it was a fair price.

A man with a trolley helped my friend and I get our suitcases down a lot of stairs and out of the station. The station was new so the escalators had not been installed. He was quite happy with what I paid him even though it was less than his initial offer. His mate checked how much I paid and they both grinned at me. They seemed to admire my ability to bargain.

Many taxis will not use their meters, but at a railway station after refusing to accept many quotes one guy said “meter”. The magic words! He was not too popular with his mates. My most memorable experience was when I had to go quite a distance, but I had no idea how far or how much. I was picked up by a driver who took our suitcases and ran up and down stairs with them in a subway while we panted along behind him, trying to keep up. We were driving off (this situation was not helped by the fact we running late) when negotiating began. I would not agree so he stopped and unloaded our cases on the side of a busy road. Hmm. A taxi came by shortly afterwards and we came to an agreement. But we got free help with our cases J

At one bus station where I needed a taxi I was approached by a retired English teacher who was out earning drinking money. “Don’t get a taxi, too expensive. The local bus will take you to where you want to go. It’s their last stop so you won’t get lost”. He waited at the bus stop with us then loaded both our cases onto the bus and told the driver where we were going. Money well spent and good on him. But in these cases you just have to trust.


Do you bargain in Australia or abroad? What’s the best deal you’ve gotten?

  1. I bargain for all big purchases eg; my car, washing machine, fridge etc etc and including insurance for said items….

  2. I first started bartering in Thailand many years ago and found it to be both fun and rewarding, still today I barter for anything I purchase and always manage to get a great deal because of it. Give it a go most home goods stores usually come to the party and give a discount.

  3. In Nassau I said no to their lowering price three times for a fake designer bag purely because I’d decided I didn’t need it and wasn’t going to take it home. The market stall holder chased me up the building with an amazing offer that I really couldn’t say no to 😄

  4. I hate bartering. I have no talent for it so if it needs to be done I let my husband do it because he enjoys it and is good at it.

  5. I bargain with all major purchases here in Oz. Sometimes I am flabbergasted how much I saved, it can be between 10 and 25%. Don’t be shy, it is your money

  6. I was hopeless at bargaining on a recent trip to Turkey. I found it so confusing trying to convert currency in my head. Everything seemed to be in US Dollars and Euro. I’m not great and securing the best deal here at home either.

    • Barbara you should have used a currency converter on your smart phone, you can convert into any currency you choose.

    • I had a currency converter on my iPad but the app died and didn’t seem supported anymore. The one I did have though I am sure didn’t have Turkish currency on it. That was my trouble everything had to be converted multiple ways.

    • Sorry about that, that’s a real pain however sometimes if they stop working you can try turning off the iPad or delete the app and reinstall it, both work.

  7. If you know your prices,you will know if it,s a bargain, why try and cheat a very poor person, does not seem fair to me..

    • It’s not a matter of cheating a very poor person, the goods were probably stolen in the first place.

  8. No. I was never any good at bargaining. Try in Asian countries tho, cos they seem to rxpect it

  9. My husband always showed his Italian heritage when buying anything! Haggles like you wouldn’t believe, even to walking away saying he could get it cheaper elsewhere, to be then chased and offered a better price! He went to trade in his old Landcruiser for a new one. They made an offer. He got up and walked out, leaving me red faced and sitting at the table. As I got up to follow him, the sales man said, where did he go? I told him, home! He followed me out to where Vic was waiting. Vic told him he came to buy a cruiser, not to be insulted! He got his price!

  10. I have found you can bargain here more than you can in China, if you are a foreigner in China the price can double, if you are buying anything in China always make sure you are with a Chinese national.

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