We've had a couple of haggling experiences, since moving to China, and were also given a quick briefing on haggling during our China Horizons training. So I thought I'd share the wealth and give you 5 tips on haggling in China:
#1. ONLY OFFER PRICES YOU WILL PAY
Don't give a price if you are not willing to pay it. If you start haggling and the price you offer is accepted, it would be rude to to back out. With that in mind...
#2. START LOW
The Chinese vendors will make you feel like you are insulting their family honor or that their son will never get a college education because you offered such a low price, but thats a part of the game. We've found the best way to do this is say something along the lines of "I don't want to make an offer, because I don't want to offend you". It braces them for your "low ball" offer and gives you the upper hand, because they'll force you to make your offer, but you won't have to feel guilty when they try to make you feel bad. You can just respond "I know! Thats why I didn't want to make an offer, but its the best I can do." That leads in to...
#3. WALK AWAY
Don't be afraid to walk away if they're not budging on prices. Chances are, you will start to walk away and they'll start shouting lower offers at you. Again, this gives you the upper hand when bargaining. Another reason not to be afraid to walk away is...
#4. IT'S NOT ORIGINAL
Nope..that is not a real North Face Jacket, and those are not actual Coach bags, which is OK, because you can get a killer deal, and they still look great, but not only are the products not original, they can be found everywhere in China. The stall you're at, is likely not the only stall you will find the item that catches your eye. Very rarely are you going to find something that isn't found somewhere else. So don't be afraid to shop around and find the best price.
Bartering can be a fun game! And don't worry, even though you insulted their family honor in the beginning, when you find that agreeable price for both of you, you're now their best friend. They'll wave you off with a smile, and you'll be totally confused by their mood swing, but again, its a part of the game and the experience. So don't take things to seriously, and remember, almost ANYTHING in China is negotiable! Have fun haggling out there!