BARGAINING IS ONE of those necessary life skills that so many of us lack.
Americans tend to be weak on this front because it's a skill we rarely use, says Reid Bramblett, a travel expert and founder of Reid's Guides. Sure, we bargain at the car dealership and during job negotiations. But for the most part, the price on the tag is the price we pay.
Unfortunately, this means we often overpay. And when traveling abroad, this weakness could be viewed as downright insulting. "It almost annoys the vendors," says Bramblett. "They would rather it be the proper social interaction."
Here are some tips on how to bargain with confidence:
- Conduct research. Know what the going rate is for an item before you go shopping, advises Anna Wallner, co-author of "The Shopping Bags," a shopping guide. This will help you to fix a price in your mind of what you're willing to pay.
- Let the seller be the first to name a price. You're at a disadvantage if you're the first to attach a dollar sign, our experts agree. After all, the seller might immediately agree, which means you've bid too high, says Bramblett.
- Don't get attached. Appearing too interested in an item tells the merchant that he's going to make that sale whether he bargains with you or not.
- Carry small bills and change. "For a seller, it's annoying when someone bargains you down to $1 and then pays with a $50 bill," says Randy Lyman, co-author of "Garage Sale Gourmet," a shopper's guide. Having a few small bills to pull out can give you leverage by setting a maximum price: "Gee, I only have two fives. Would you take $10 instead of $15?"