The best weapon in your haggling arsenal
Hello! It’s been a long time since Jon or I brought you a blog article, we were too busy doing nothing on holiday, it was a lot of hard work. I’ve now returned and I’m raring to write my first post in a while.
As some of you may know, I recently went on a trip to Istanbul which was very exciting. There are lots of interesting things to do and it has the whole ‘East meets West’ thing which everyone always shouts about.
I’ve never been to somewhere with a colossal cathedral (Aya Sophia) staring a massive mosque (Blue Mosque) in the face, whilst tourists throng between them. What’s particularly interesting about the Aya Sophia is that it was originally a cathedral which was then converted to a mosque after the conquering of Constantinople by the Ottomans. This means that a number of Christian frescoes were covered by Islamic art and are now being restored. It’s a big culture clash.
There’s also the Basilica Cistern which previously providing water to the Aya Sophia and the surrounding area. It can hold 100,000 tonnes of water! What?! Apparently, the government didn’t know of its existence (this was after numerous conquerings – obviously someone originally knew about it) until residents started drawing water and fish from their basements. It’s now a tourist attraction and is pretty cool.
Anyway, what I really want to talk about is the Grand Bazaar which is a labyrinthine complex of the same 3 shops over and over. If you want to buy a lamp, some jeans or a bowl then this is the place for you.
The Turks really are a force of nature when it comes to selling. They will try and sell you anything and everything as you walk past even if you already have it. Whilst on holiday, my friend and I were offered jeans, sunglasses and food as we were walking along, despite being in possession of all these things. Clearly, if I’m wearing sunglasses and eating a kebab, I don’t need those things! But they still persist…
One thing about the Bazaar which really is at odds with Western culture is the lack of prices on products. This isn’t because the products are too expensive but because the shopkeepers will try and get the measure of you and charge a price which it is your duty to haggle down.
Being from Britain, I find the notion of bartering for a cheaper price a bit ridiculous. It means having the brashness to say that I don’t think your product is worth it, or that you don’t trust the seller. But that is what you have to do. You’ve got to haggle.
And the one thing you need for successful haggling…
Be prepared to walk away
This is an absolute must. No matter how long they’ve spent with you, even if they got you some tea, you need to be able to leave the product behind. If the seller even gets a hint of your desperation then they will maintain the higher price.
This happened to my friend who dutifully picked out two football shirts for 20 lira (£6). All he wanted was to say that he had bartered, that there had been a reduction in price so he was asking to pay 19 lira. The shopkeeper knew this was ridiculous and that my friend would buy the two shirts regardless. He couldn’t walk away.
It’s all about a power struggle. If you can leave then you have the power. If you can’t then they’ll have you eating out of their hands.
Besides, if you say ‘no’ and walk away, they will nearly always call you back and give you the cheaper price. It works like a dream.