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Bargaining in Malaysia

Bargaining is applicable for all stalls and shops except for the fixed priced outlets at large shopping malls. Before going on your haggling venture, pay attention to what you’re wearing. If you look like you have the money, some vendors will not hesitate to charge you double or even triple the price. So leave your Armani shirt and gold wristwatch behind, and dress as simply as you could. Wear no visible labels or anything that is a dead give-away to your financial status.

When you find an item you like, take your time to inspect it. Keep a neutral expression and don’t let your interest show too much, even if you’re dead keen on it. Even if there’s a price tag on the item clearly stating what it’s worth, still make it a point to ask: “How much?” The bidding process will thus begin. Start with offering just one quarter of the asking price – don’t feel bad about this as you can always raise your offer bit by bit.

Keep going back and forth with your counter-offer until you reach a price that you’re comfortable with. If the vendor refuse to budge any lower, thank him, tell him that you will think about it and walk away to survey other shops. Two things will happen; either the vendor calls you back and states his final (and much lower) offer or asks you how much you’re willing to pay for the item, or you will find a much better offer elsewhere. The mistake that most foreigners (and some locals) make is that they’re too afraid, too embarrassed or feel too guilty to ask for a much lower price, that they immediately accept the first counter-offer that the vendor makes. Remember, most of the items sold here initially bear a higher marked price, so don’t be afraid to bid lower, and feel free to shop around; it is the culture here.

It is very important for you to be serious when you offer a price to the vendors. If your offer price is accepted then you must make good your offer. Otherwise you may hear some expletives called after you and it will not be very pleasant.

So the trick is only offer a price for an item you are genuinely interested in. Do start your offer at very ridiculously low bid. That way you will get the best price and avoid any unnecessary difficulty later.





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