Jun 10, 2007

The Art of Bali Bargaining


If you buy something in Bali in most shops and markets, you need to bargain. Bargaining can be difficult if you are not used to it. Some of the people that I talked to told me it is quite embarrassing to bargain, because they rarely, if not never, do it in their life. In Bali the sellers expect you to bargain when you want to buy something. If you don’t bargain, you might pay too much for something you buy.

So, how do you bargain?

When you walk accross a shop, let say a T shirts shop, the seller often shout loudly to you in their Balinese accent, "Come ya, just have a look. Not buying is okay." You walk in and see something you like and take it. You try it and the seller give a price. Tell the seller that the price is too expensive, shake your head, and give the T-shirt back to the seller. Then the seller will lower the price or ask you to name your price. Normally, people bargain fifty percent of what the price is offered. Let say, the price is 10 bucks, then you bargain 5 bucks. Then maybe you’ll pay 7 dollar for it. But, indeed, you can start lower than fifty percent and end up paying fifty percent depending on the things you want to buy.

Sometimes the bargaining can be hard because the seller won’t lower the price. You have stated the price 6 bucks, but the seller remain in her price;9 bucks. What you can do is leave the shop. By leaving, it will look to the seller that you are not interested in buying, then she will lower the price. Maybe she says 8 bucks, but you walk farther, finally she says okay. She agree with your price. It is time to go back and get the goods.

In certain case, the seller will not call you back when you leave. This only can mean one thing, your price is too low. Then you should forget about it, and find other shop that sell the same stuff. You will find it easily. In fact, it is also important to visit few shops to have an idea how much things cost by comparing the price from one shop to other shop. Then you’ll be able to draw to a conclusion how much things really cost.

Why bargaining?

It is just a tradition in Bali, and I think in many Asian countries. It could be easier, you say, if all price is fixed and there is no need to bargain. Well, you can go to places like supermarket and shopping centre where the price is fixed. Balinese like bargaining. This you can see if you visit a local market where locals haggle for price. I think the idea of bargaining make us feel that we can get better or less expensive price.

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