Cheap Cheap

One of the great joys while shopping in Thailand is the bargaining – there is a definite art to it. One must find the equilibrium between getting the best deal on an item and becoming frustrated and looking like an asshole.
In this context, an asshole is either a jerk using noobie bargaining tactics, or more commonly, someone who is expending copious amounts of time and effort for a negligible monetary return, i.e., battling it out with an old lady over a dollar difference on a twenty dollar purchase. Is a dollar difference worth sealing a deal but leaving one party with a sour taste in their mouth? Some people would answer with an unequivocal, “yes!” You are the people I do not want to go shopping with, because in the larger scope of things, that dollar means shit to you or me. Sure, it can buy you a whole meal or two there. I say, so fucking what. Who needs the meal more? Sure, sealing a sweet deal feels great – everybody likes to be a winner – but if you feel like an asshole for squeezing a street vendor for a few pennies, you most probably are.
The flip side of being an asshole is being a sucker. If you don’t bargain at all, you are a sucker, and you are seriously missing out on some fun. Looking back, I now recognize that I used to take bargaining too seriously until I learned to enjoy it. Thai people are for the most part really fucking laid back and cool. Deal with vendors who return your smile, and everything will work out fine – don’t forget a lot of vendors are assholes, too, and want nothing but (A) your money and (B) for you to get your unintelligible ass out of their sight, ASAP.
Like I said – it’s all about finding that equilibrium.
This is not a sophisticated game like buying high-quality knockoffs in Korea; no layer cakes here. This is a simple exercise in basic bargaining:
“How much for this?”
“Can you give me a good price?”
“How about ____?”
” No? What if I buy two/a dozen/____?”
“Is that the best you can do?”
“C’mon, meet me halfway!”
“Thank you!”
And that is the template for a basic bargaining approach. You will learn many others in your travels, grasshopper. But you will always return to the basics.

One Reply to “Cheap Cheap”

  1. Okay buster, since I get queasy even thinking about haggling over prices, and yet sometimes choose not to buy something I really want because I might be played for a sucker, may I ask you or Nam to be my go-between? You can be Senor Rico Suave, okay?

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