Posted by: KJ | August 28, 2007

How to Bargain 101

So I finally learned how to bargain.

Well, sort of. I lost my bargaining skills when I left Saudi Arabia. Here in Dubai, bargaining is like asking for trouble. Still, there are many shops you can bargain in.

STEP 1: Know Where To Bargain

If you live in a place where bargaining is not part of shopping (i.e. price tags rule), then knowing if a local store allows you to bargain or not takes some trial and error. Here is a list of things you can do to find out:

– Check the price of an item. A few days later, send another friend (preferrably good looking) to check the price. If it changed, you can bargain.
– Claim you saw the exact same item in another shop for a slightly cheaper price. If the shopkeeper doesn’t give a legitimate excuse (don’t fall for “this is genuine leather”), then you can bargain
– Note the price of the shoe you want. During a sale, calculate if the now-lower price corresponds to the sale percentage they mentioned. If it isn’t, then most likely you can take them to court and own the store (it helps if you take photos of the before-and-after price tag)
– If you’re buying electronics, ask how much will it cost without warranty. If any answer is given, then most likely the item doesn’t have a warranty to begin with. Bargain!
– Play the “bulk” game. Especially effective for textiles. If the salesperson provides a cheaper rate for you 40000 foot roll than the 400 foot one, you can bargain.

STEP 2: How To Bargain (without getting shot)

Now that you know you can bargain, you can use different tactics depending on the shop owner. Owners of Indian origins are astoundingly stubborn and may need extensive skills to work through. I will tell you about them here (you need to use most of them). For other nationalities you may use only a subset.

– Precalculate the cost price of the product. It is typically around 35%-55% depending on the item (shoes and textiles in particular are child-labor, so you can go for more).
– Assume that the price is 100. You need to give an absurdly low price, one even you can’t accept. Say 65. The conversation will go like this (starting with you):
65, no no no I will run out of business! no less than 100, 75, no no mam I am sorry I cannot sell it!, but look there is a scratch here, i will bring you another item mam, i don’t want the other one I want this khallesni 3ad 85 yalla, no no no mam I cannot do it
– At this point you have two options, you either be stubborn and take the item and pay 85 or put it down and say you will go to another store. Making a scene always works.
– Some store owners challenge you, and tell you if you find it cheaper at another store they will give it to you for the lowered price (or even free). Do so and the item is yours (I got 4 free DVDs from the same shop that way).
– If it takes you longer to reach a deal, don’t despair, here is a bargain scenario I had 4 days ago:

240, 180, 240, 185, 235, 185, 235, 185, 235, 185, 235, 190, 235, 190, 230, 190, 230, 190, 225, 190, 225, 190, 225, 195, 225, 195, 225, 195, 225, 195, 225, 190, !!!!, 195, 225, 210, done.

Now if we were in our countries, bargaining will be like:

ya zalame ma ebtestahel, khallesni 220
mabeddak khalas, fek 3anni
hata bi 210 w beb3atlak flan eyzabbetlak el satellite
twakkal 3a rabbak😀


  1. I used to do that in Amman but not here… i think i lost those skills🙂 lol!! i am screwed

  2. i had a friend who made sales people literally beg them to just buy it at their proposed price and leave the shop.
    she’s haggle, get the price she wanted…and then haggle again….
    it drove me insane! so imagine the salesperson’s feelin!

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