Throughout the year, thousands of tourists visit Tanzania. It is one of the top travel destinations in all of Africa. Around the world, people are enamored by the crystal-clear ocean that sweeps the shore, Mt. Kilimanjaro, and the vast national parks. But most tourists don’t learn about bargaining until after they have arrived.
It is important to remember that bargaining is a way of life in Tanzania. Of course, if you go to a hotel, mall, food establishments, or major establishment bargaining is not customary. However, on the street, in markets, and tourist shops, bargaining is expected. It is very common for sellers to raise prices for tourists. They are hoping that you don’t know a fair local price or that you don’t fully understand the currency exchange.
Most often, items will be marked up for tourists. Therefore, it is important to bargain to get a fair price. But, before you start bargaining, here are a few easy tips to help you bargain like a local.
Smile and have Patience:
Start with a smile; bargaining is not always easy. But it is a relationship that you are forming. Both parties want to feel respected and appreciated during the exchange. It is important that you never let your emotions get the best of you. Raising your voice or being derogatory will not help you to reach your goal. Instead, realize that you are trying to come to an agreement that will benefit both parties. This will take patience.
Use or try to use the local language:
Try to use the native language as much as possible; even if that means bringing a duel dictionary with you. When people can see that you respect them and have taken time to research the language and customs, they will be more willing to work with you. It is advised to greet the seller when you meet them, help them relate to you, and start forming a relationship before bargaining. If you walk up to them shouting, “How much is this” in your foreign language they are much less likely to offer you a fair price.
Don’t name a Price:
The first person to name a price is always at a disadvantage. If you are the buyer and you name a price, the seller knows that they don’t have to sell the product for less than that amount. If the seller names the price first, the buyer won’t pay more than that price. Instead of naming a price, it is recommended to listen carefully first. Let the seller tell you about the item before you start bargaining. Try not to look like you are in a rush or that you can’t live without the product. Patience is key.
Negotiating is a big part of bargaining. How well can you persuade someone else? I always say start with a price that is much lower than you would be willing to pay. In a standard bargaining game, the price will go back and forth. If you start lower than you would like to pay, the price will more easily land near your target price.
Never Show your Money:
One of the mistakes people make all the time is showing their money before bargaining. Never show the seller how much money you have. If you walk up to them and show them a wallet full of $100 bills you cannot expect them to lower their prices for you. Immediately, they will think that you are very well off and they will not be willing to bargain.
One thing to remember, is most people in Tanzania living outside the major cities live off a dollar or five a day. Most tend to expect tourists to be better off than they are. They also see tourists as a quick way to make extra money. Bargaining is a strategy that you can use to get closer to a fair market price. But, doing your research on relevant prices, the language, and using these easy steps will help to make the bargaining process more comfortable and easier.
In addition to Tanzania, I found that in most other non-western countries, bargaining with a vendor is a norm.
Have you ever had to bargain for something you wanted to buy abroad; what was your experience? Let us know in the comment section below.