The haggling game: 10 quick tips

While in the market and in search for a second story, I decided to study haggling further with interpreter Santhou. Needing deep insight, I interviewed Pisey, a vendor in Siem Reap’s  Old Market, and found 5 effective negotiating tips for shopping in the marketplace.

  1. Never show interest: According to Pisey, most vendors will negotiate less is if they notice, in a buyer’s facial expressions or speech, excitement about a certain item. It is best to wear a straight face and avoid eye contact with the vendor until you are seriously considering a purchase.
  2. Remain silent: The more you hesitate to speak to vendors about your desired price, the more they will talk and try to negotiate. So, just listen for a while. They may talk the price down themselves.  
  3. Buy in bulks: Vendors like Pisey are more willing to lower their per unit price if multiple items are bought. So, choosing a vendor with reasonable prices and buying at least two items from him or her is great idea. Even when shopping with friends, remember that group purchases are a win-win for both the selling and buying parties.
  4. Beware of false claims: When I asked Pisey whether vendors lied about the quality of their items, she firmly nodded and said, “Yes.” According to her, most vendors buy a few high-quality items to sell among the many low-quality items, and most customers can’t tell the difference. They will also claim that their item is made of some rare stone and hand-made when there is a 75 percent chance that it is not.  So, just smile when hearing these promises and keep haggling.
  5. Be prepared to walk away: When having a difficult time reaching your target price, this strategy is the best way to push vendors to offer either their lowest possible price or, ideally, the price you proposed. “If I can still make [a] profit, I will call them back,” admitted Pisey.
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