Kenya, Rants

Haggling Is Ridiculous

I was shopping in Nairobi for some new clothes this weekend and a few things got me so frustrated. First, haggling is ridiculous. For whatever reasons, we just don’t do it in the West. The idea is that you, the person selling the goods, want to maximize the sale price. The other idea is that you, the person buying the goods, want to minimize the sale price. See the problem?

The other other idea is that there is a fair price somewhere in the middle, one where we both win. The process begins when the buyer asks the price. The seller, thinking to maximize, will usually give a price somewhere above what the buyer wants to pay, so the buyer counters (usually eloquently) with something more like what he wants to pay. In my experience the seller is always offended (sometimes genuinely, other times it’s just a tactic). The logic I can’t wrap my head around is this: the seller gives a ridiculously-high price and the buyer names an equally-ridiculous low price. As the buyer, I don’t expect him to actually accept my first price, and I expect us to strike and agreement somewhere above, so I pick something significantly below where I want to pay.

I’m willing to pay that fair price. What frustrates me is this dance, which is more like a fight to me, and I don’t enjoy the process because I am always the one who gets beat up. In the end I just went to the Nordstrom-type store where they have proper changing rooms and price tags on everything. Less hassle, and a price which is probably too high, but at least the stuff is new and I don’t have to run the risk of a heart attack.

Other frustrations:

  • “My friend, what about this shirt?” – I’m not your friend, I’m your customer. That “friend” thing is so clich√© by now, do people still fall for that one?
  • “It looks good!” – Don’t tell me it looks good, bring me a mirror.

Haggling is ridiculous.

5 Comments

    1. Alan Author

      I’m pretty sure that also counts… I don’t think I have the guts to ask, though. I do know that people haggle at farmers’ markets, but I never got good at that whole “gimme three oranges for two dollars instead of two” thing.

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