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The price of haggling

Both the customer and the salesperson are the winners in the game of haggling, albeit in different situations

The price of haggling

I don’t know if it’s a myth or reality, but I personally believe women’s romance with shopping is undisputed. And, shopping without them haggling over the prices is unimaginable.

I also love to ‘haggle,’ though my shyness often keeps me well within limits. However, sometimes I take friends along to do the ‘needful.’

With men it’s unarguably different. Where I take minutes to finish a deal, my husband takes seconds, and my mission to get something at the best price possible still remains unaccomplished.

The salesmen also love to exploit the bargaining power of women by starting with an (visibly) increased asking price. But, in my observation, this behaviour changes from place to place. Likewise for the customers. Anarkali, Baghbanpura, Ichhra Bazaar, and Sadar are good places for haggling. The elite is mostly confined to the DHA malls where it is not possible to bargain because the retail prices are fixed. The smaller the shop/stall, the easier it is for the customer to engage in a bargaining argument.

When there is Ramzan, Eidul Fitr can’t be far behind. No wonder, preparations for the festive religious occasion gather steam over the final days of the holy month, and women are the eager buyers here.

Over time, many traditions are forgotten. However, there are women who keep alive the art of bargaining by offering to pay less than even the cost of production of an item would be. This sometimes makes me wonder if a woman could be a better economist than a man because most women ransack one market after another to make a healthy comparison of prices before buying a single item. They also know how to apply price and quality filters to get to a better deal.

Some salesmen bait potential family customers by whipping out an attractive toy for the stubborn child around. This does the trick for them. However, once an experienced parent handles their kid, the salesman’s purpose is lost.

Some salesmen are such smart ‘judges’ of customers’ preferences etc that they will immediately switch ‘modes’ to suit a situation. The minute a client enters the shop, the hawk-eyed salesman can tell the best way to bait him/her. If it’s a docile person in front of him, the salesman would have it easy getting the price he wants.

Some salesmen are so smart that the minute a client enters the shop, they can tell the best way to bait him/her.

Addressing even a middle-aged woman customer as “sister” or “baji” instead of “aunty” also helps.

On the other hand, the clever customer knows that the delaying tactic will help him/her get their way.

The funny part is that both the customers and the salespeople are equally aware of the tricks of the game. And so, the show goes on.

There are adventurous — as well as talented — ladies who would haggle over the prices even where these are fixed. Surprisingly, they often come out victorious. (This is one occasion where I believe the salesman deserves applause for showing patience.)

Interestingly, women are an easy prey at cosmetics’ shops where the salesgirls would sell substandard local products at high prices. It’s all about how they present it to you.

Beware: when a salesperson has earned your “trust,” it is even easier for them to ‘rob’ you.

Atiya Fatima

One comment

  • Haggling is right of the customer and recreation for women. Shopping becomes tasteless without haggling. Good piece of writing.

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