Bargaining in China
The Culture of Bargaining
You can bargain for most anything in China. From clothes and fruit to bottled water. All made for tourist souvenirs should be bargained hard.
When quoting a price, you can expect people to get as much as they think you think its worth. Foreigners are susceptible to paying too much as they don't realize how low prices really are in China. You need to have a realistic idea in your head what something is worth - in China.
Don't look at a bronze statue of Mao and think "this would cost $200 in my country." That bronze statue probably sells to Chinese for $10. So when the shopkeeper asks 800 renminbi for it, remember 80 is probably the local price.
Bargaining is a friendly, social art. Don't feel bad or shy about stating your price. Also never feel bad you might be going to low. Sometimes its necessary to counter an offer of 800 with 50 or 75 in order to settle on 110.
If a local Chinese is buying what you want, watch the transaction of cash and see how much is paid.
There are a few bargaining tactics you need to be aware of.
Often what you want is sold at more than one stall in the area you are shopping. Ask prices and bargain at several before buying.
You can always go back. Leave if its not going your way or you want to compare prices. The shopkeeper will likely have a sudden price drop upon your departure. Even if not you can return to bargain more or settle on their offer.
Shopkeepers may look annoyed if you bargain hard, but either (1) they are annoyed they cannot profit greatly from you, (2) looking annoyed is part of their bargaining act or (3) they were annoyed when you arrived.
Never feel bad about having bargained so hard and feeling like you've cheated someone, no matter how much it may seem so. They will never sell you something at a loss!
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