05/02/2010 30 °C
On my first night in Chiang Mai I met an extremely nice old lady from a fantastic city called Edinburgh (that's where I'm from and I'm not being byest one bit on this one). After I ordered a Beer at the Red Lion Bar (a local for the ex-pats in Chiang Mai), I suddenly heard,
"oh, that's a lovely accent I can never forget"
Mrs King, as I called her, has been in Thailand for over 25 years. She is a retired school teacher who was shocked to hear that I didn't know much about the Romans and how they used elephants to move stuff across the alps. If you knew that please let me know. After telling her that I could speak Español and was learning Francais, I later managed to convince Mrs King (although she demanded
to be called Sheila - I just couldn't) that we can't learn everything at school. Maybe that's something schoolteachers can't understand as they appeared to be always correct. They do, however, have my full 99% respect.
Anyway, the lovely Mrs King explained a bit about haggling before I even contemplated starting. The price they apparently always look for is just above 50% of their asking price. After a long chat about other things in general I later learned that she was staying in the same hotel as us. Thankfully, I was able to see her on my last night as she came out the hotel.
"oh, you look very handsome tonight".
Little did she know that I was on the pull.
So, it seems Thai's just like haggling. I don't why they bother really as the price always comes down. With fixed prices everybody saves alot of time and encourages competition. Maybe it's because everybody works for themselves, however, it does create a bit of communication between buyer and seller and you can always joke and make small talk.
Apparently, I got a good deal for a watch without knowing it. I wasn't really looking for one but as most of them catch your eye, you get easily drawn in to the vast array of the fake designer classics. The price started at 1800 bhat (36 euros). I wasn't happy with that simply because it was the first price they offered (take note Lina). He then reduced it down to 1600 Bhat as that was exclusively a 'special' price for me. This must be a way to make you feel, well, special. I still wasn't happy as I knew it come down more. Then, came the earthquake,
"1000 Bhat", I shouted confidently, whilst also pretending that the marvellous watch didn't mean anything to me and that I was just in it for a game.
"No", he said bluntly.
I never responded back to him, continued to look at the watch and placed it neatly back where it was. I didn't even acknowledge his response and pretended to be distracted. As I walked away very slowly, he called me back.
"Okay 1,000, you pay 1,000".
I continued to walk very slowly until I was two market stalls away.
"900, and it yours".
I looked back and smiled, and continued again on my well rehearsed journey up the street.
"kaching" for him, that got me back. I walked back briskly. Looked at the watch again. Examined the strap, the face, the backside. It was only fair I proceed to haggle more but not too much as he did reduce it down by 50%.
"750" I said again confidently, "..and the money's yours".
Not that the watch is going to be mine at €15, but the moeny was going to be his. A bit of reverse pyschology.
After referring to a chart and discussing it quickly with the wife, he agreed the deal. He's still making some money as he didn't complain, at least like some others do. Some use that tactic to make you feel bad about the haggle. You shouldn't feel pity for them as they try to rip you off in the first place. It wouldn't surprise me if somebody has agreed the first deal in the past without a haggle I suppose it's all about compensation for them.
Well, the watch is mine and it's damn fine Rolex with a nice solid strap, elegant and smooth gold looking face.
Maybe one other tip is to look at something you are dearly not interested in, and subtly check out other things at their stall whilst keeping an eye on your gem.
I was adherent on buying an Omega Seamaster but didn't prefer either of the five I liked. Having spotted the Rolex a few rows down, I decided without telling him that it was going to be mine, and for a cheap price.
So, I got over 50% reduced. Not bad, eh? Maybe you've haggled a better deal. Let us hear about it, add your comment below.
See you all in Bangkok on Saturday.
Living the dream, in dreamland and for real.