Guest Author - Rachel Meneses-Ponce
In the Philippines, haggling or asking for a discount is common practice especially in wet and flea (tiangge) markets. It is like a ritual or a dance both buyer and seller perform, the climax of which is the consummation of the sale. Modern day economic analysts would use the term “win-win”, where buyer and seller are both satisfied with the outcome.
How do you haggle or ask for a discount? Some buyers would ask outright for a 75percent reduction of the selling price. From there, the price is haggled back and forth until both protagonists agree, settle and move on to the next exchange. Or it could be in kind, like free items to go with the purchase.
My friend gave me these tips on haggling: First, ask the tindera (the seller) how much the item of your choice is. Ask her if her quoted price is the “last price.” At this stage, either she gives you a lower price or outright tell you the price is tapat na (the price cannot be reduced further). Or she would ask you how much you are willing to pay for the merchandise. Naturally, your offer is lower than her quoted price. This goes back and forth until both of you arrive at an agreed price and are satisfied with the result. You may now choose other items from her wares you fancy; do the same ritual. Then before paying, you can haggle the last time. Say you bought a dozen each of children’s sports socks, camisoles, undershirts and boxer shorts. She will now total the cost. If the total for example is PhP525.00, you can at your option, haggle again to drop the PhP25.00 to “close” the transaction at PhP500.00 “flat.” You will be surprised to get an extra discount. Just ask, my friend advised.
If, on the other hand, she tells you tapat na and you are not too keen with the “last price”, shake your head and slowly walk away from the store. Chances are the tindera will call you back and offer a much lower price. This ploy may or may not work, but more often than not, she will call you back. Other tinderas especially on lean days, where crowd is thin, would be keenly observing the proceeding, as they will get your attention and interest to instead patronize their respective store once it is clear that the transaction fell. It is customary to be addressed as suki, meaning you are a constant and frequent shopper at the store even though you are not.
To some, asking for discounts or haggling comes naturally. A bit of advice though. Just don’t overdo it. Choose where and when to haggle. Look at it as a game. Have fun with it. Not getting the price you want? Let it go, don’t let it rob you of the joy in shopping at bargain places like Divisoria (in Manila).
There will be instances where, with a smile, the vendor would give an extra piece or two without you asking. When this happens, a simple thank you - also with a smile - is sufficient. It is a gift they are giving you; to decline is to insult the giver.