How to be an expert haggler.

Posted on Posted in How to

I learnt how to haggle from my mother. My mother could beat down the price of an item by more than 60%. I hated going with her to the market, she will spend hours pricing items until she gets the best deal. I used to silently pray that she should not be beaten up in the market especially from the meat sellers with their viscous looking knives.

Back then, I used to feel embarrassed when my mother puts on her ‘haggling cap’ and on several occasions, I will beg her to just buy the item and pity the seller, to which she will hiss and say, ‘ Nwamaka, you don’t know these sellers, they like to reap people off their hard earned money, don’t worry when you become a woman you will understand better’. I promised myself never to be a haggler like my mother,  but as nature will have it, a lion gives birth to a lion.

My friend ‘Mrs E’ asked me to teach her how to haggle or price (Nigerian English) due to the economic downtown and her bills/expenses are growing faster than a geometric progression series. Honestly, faces are not smiling again and people are getting wise on being prudent.  If you find yourself buying things at a more expensive rate than others, follow these steps to be a pro in ‘pricing’.

  1. 1) Be tough and firm:- Haggling is not for the faint minded. Make up your mind to be tough and not to buckle under pressure.

2) Be bold:- Drop the shyness, drop the ‘poshness’ and put on your haggling cap. It’s your hard earned money and you should not be shy to bargain. In the past, bargaining was for a certain class but with the financial situation of the country, that notion has changed. I once entered a high end boutique at Victoria Island, I looked at the price tag on a shoe and was about to leave because they were highly priced and I had assumed the prices were fixed. To my amazement, a lady that was also in the store with me, with all boldness haggled down the price of a bag by more than 30%. I have also learnt to haggle down prices when booking hotel rooms, entry into theme parks , insurance rate , gym subscription, school fees, school bus services etc. When eating out especially in all these Chinese restaurants, I walk boldly to the manager and let them know that I want to dine in, but I have a problem with paying 5/10 percent service fee. Most times I negotiate 2.5% and on few occasions, they have waved it off.

3) Dress to the occasion:- This depends on what and where you are buying. If buying food stuffs from the local market you dress down, These market sellers hike the price of goods once they see a nicely dressed person. if buying cloths, shoes, electronics, etc from a high-end shop, you dress up. You will be given more audience and you will have the needed attention for your haggling . They will also not want to lose a possible customer and will be willing to give you good discounts because they believe you are not a time wasting window shopper.

4) Be knowledgeable:- Knowing about the product you want to buy puts you at an advantage. On so many occasions, I have been able to beat down the price of an item because I am aware of the product brand and I had already compared prices online.

5) Look for minor faults on the product:- If you discover minor faults on a product capitalise on it and further beat down the price. Minor faults such as a scratch, lose button. etc

6) Don’t be desperate:- Once the seller perceives you are desperate to have the product, chances are that he/she will try to sell at a higher rate and will not succumb to any bargaining pressure. So learn to curb your enthusiasm on a product.

7) Bring out the your money:- Assuming you are pricing a product for N5,000, count the money and show it to the seller while letting him/her know that’s what you can afford. Chances are that the seller sighting your money will not want to lose it, he/she will most likely grab the money and say, ‘ Madam, am just selling this to you at this price because I like you.’

8) Know when to walk away and don’t be afraid to lose the product:- Whether buying from the open market or from a high-end store, practise the old trick of walking away. Sellers are aware of this trick now, so what I do is this. I criticise the product and I go like, ‘ Madam, am sorry but I can’t pay N5,000 for this product, It’s not my exact fit/the colour is not even bright enough,I just want to manage it. So since you cannot accept N4,500 I will have to drop it’. then I proceed to drop the item and walk away and go into the next store. 80% of the time, the sellers bulge and call me back.

  1. These are my 8 tips to becoming an expert haggler. So are you an expert haggler/negotiator? Did I miss any point? Feel free to share you own tips/tricks so other readers can learn.

6 thoughts on “How to be an expert haggler.

  1. Hi Amaka,

    This reminded me of my childhood, I used to be sooooo impatient when my mother would spend time bargaining with meat sellers, sometimes she’d even call a price so low that I’d be afraid that they’d insult her. Lol

    Now that I am grown, I know why bargaining is important. That “walking-away” tip works well, but some sellers won’t budge even if you walk all the way back to your house. 😀

    That “finding fault” tip makes sense, I’ll definitely try it out.

    Whenever I go to the market, I make sure that I ask for the price of an item from at least 3 different sellers so that I know where to start negotiating from.

    Thank you so much for sharing these useful tips.

    1. Hello Nedoux, I know that feeling of being afraid of their insults, I was always scared too. Now I am a master haggler, but I try to draw the line sometimes especially with struggling market women. That walking away tip works but I have noticed of recent that the sellers have learnt to start ignoring also. We have to look for new tactics.

  2. I used to be an expert haggler, I think I’ve lost some of that streak ‘cos I haven’t been buying a lot of stuff of late. Haggling is very important but some times sha…I get so scared of the seller especially some of the mean-looking women who frown as though their items are gold.
    Thank you for the tips.

    1. I know darling, it’s hard to haggle. For me, my emotions get in the way and I end up agreeing to whatever price they call. Arh, I get scared of those market women mean faces too. Hahaha.

  3. Someone wrote a meme recently about we* the elite haggling prices with market women who are only just struggling to make ends meet and so on! Your post makes me wonder exactly how do we strike a balance between being compassionate to these ‘poor traders’ and getting a good deal

    1. @fluffycutething, thank you for taking time to read my post. I think it’s a personal decision. For me personally, I don’t haggle with the *obviously poor retail market women that sells items costing less than a N1,000* I simply ask them for the *last price* and I pay. I cannot tell you where to draw the line but I will say work with ur conscience. If u can afford to pay any amount they ask for, all well and good. But if u can’t, it’s OK to ask them for their *last* price. Also this post covers for both low and high end shopping. I have stumbled on that *meme* but then don’t mistake those * market women wholesalers especially those in the big market* and count them as poor, they most times have more money than we the *elites* I remember buying a GL earring from a market woman, she looked *poor* and I did not haggle with her because she begged me that her gain was small and she was struggling. I was so shocked when her kids came back from school. I can’t afford for now to even send my kids to that school. I teased her and she said, na God.

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