Kenya

The “Walk Away” Tactic

I never liked using the “I’m gonna walk away” tactic when you’re haggling on prices — it seems so cheesy and fake. Can’t we just skip the pretense and talk serious business? You know, business where you name a fair price and I counter with another fair price? Maybe you give me a price which is so fair I just take it without any contention. I guess those days are over, or it’s just all about getting lucky and ripping people off these days. In any case, I’ve found the “walk away” is a relevant and useful tactic to use in small business transactions. This is especially true in situations when there is one consumer and many suppliers: getting a taxi.

For instance: I know the price of a taxi from Westlands (around The Mall or Sarit Center) to my house on Church Road should be around 200 Kenyan shillings (three US dollars?). They don’t know I know that, so they always inflate the price a few hundred shillings. Because I know the price is 200 I just walk away and all the other taxi drivers start yelling at me to get in theirs. Of course this maneuver scares the crap out of the original guy, who immediately comes running after me yelling, “Kuja twende!” (come, we go!). I never meant to scare the guy out of a sale, I just figure that any of these guys can offer me the same product so why should I waste my time telling the guy, “Wee, si mbali. Church Road ni hapo tu!” (man, it’s not far. Church Road is just there).

This is even funnier because I hate taking taxis and I think haggling is ridiculous! Sometimes you just can’t avoid it, though, and I think I might actually be getting better at it.

2 Comments

  1. Thashika

    I’ve had to do that before in Ethiopia. It used to annoy me that they would automatically say a higher price because I was a ferenji (foreigner), especially since I was earning an Ethiopian salary but I guess that most people wouldn’t know that. They assume that you’re visiting from North America and Europe and money isn’t really a issue. Sounds like you’re doing well. Will you be in Kenya much longer?

  2. Rebecca

    haha, taxis were about the only time i knew i could get a fair, or better than fair price! i hate it when they try to take your bag from you to put in the taxi though, i don’t want to wrestle over my luggage while trying to seem cool and unconcerned.

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