6. China gives new meaning to “Bargaining”

The salesperson wanted 100 RMB for a hairpin. Dilek’s counter offer was 3 RMB! In true showmanship fashion, the salesperson starts cussing and throws a diva fit. The final result was three hairpins purchased for 5 RMB a piece.☺

On day 6, we took the underground metro to the famous Silk Market. It is a huge building with lots of silk merchandise and other commodities. We were not sure what we would find, but we knew by now that negotiation is everything in China. We had also learned, during previous excursions, that salespeople deliberately add chock-margins to their prices for tourists, and hence will not be offended if your counter-offer is really low.
During one of our earlier city walks, Dilek had purchased a beautiful, white, Chinese-style bracelet. Today, in the silk market, she found a gorgeous hairpin to match it. The salesperson wanted 100 RMB for it, which did not seem too steep, but we knew that it had to be. Therefore, Dilek’s counter offer to the 100 RMB was… believe it or not...3 RMB! Negotiations usually take place in hand-held calculators (or cell-phones today) as very few people speak English.
The salesman exploded at such a ridiculously low counter-offer. But do not worry! That is part of the show and something you should expect from most salespeople, cab-drivers & took-tooks in any Chinese city you visit (even in present day). As long as the person does not leave, but continues the interaction, you are still in a green zone. In the end, Dilek agreed to purchase three hairpins, for 5 RMB a piece. Interesting, considering we started at 100 for just one. This should give you an idea of how much you can bargain the price.
By the way, we also made a detour to the railway station to purchase tickets to Hong Kong. Sleeping cart, mixed gender, no smoking. We’ll let you know how it went.

What is your bargaining strategy when travelling?

Post in the comments below.

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