I noticed something recently on an American TV show called ‘Pawn Stars’ and that is the fact that Americans have no idea how to bargain. You’ll see the same thing on ‘American Pickers’ and other History or Discovery Channel shows. It is a common tale, you take something into the pawn shop and they talk you down from your original asking price and in the end they get the upper hand. Since we’ve been traveling quite a bit, I think we could take on the folks of ‘Pawn Stars’ and the ‘American Pickers’ with the bargaining skills we acquired traveling through Asia. But, in case you are new to the concept here are a few tips in the event you are traveling to Asia or are about to pawn an item.
As a Seller:
• Find a realistic and well researched asking price for your item by doing your homework. Look online for other items in similar shape and of similar age. Get a number from an expert, if possible.
• Now head to the market or pawn shop and ask for literally three times the number you are willing to settle for.
• Do not hesitate to turn a buyer away. You are one person with one product, and there are millions of people who are potential buyers, you don’t have to land the first one.
• Stick to your bottom-line price and do not go lower than that. Always attempt to go higher.
As a Buyer:
• Remember all the techniques you used as a seller and try to preempt their game by cutting their original asking price into 1/3rd of what they asked. This is a safe maneuver.
• Don’t be uncomfortable bargaining. In the bargaining game the goal is to end up with a number you are happy with as a buyer. Don’t worry about the seller’s feelings.
• Arrive at a price in your head that you are happy with and take one of two roads: 1) if you really want the product buy it at any price, or; 2) separate yourself from your desire to have the product and only buy it when the price is right. Don’t say your final bottom line price out loud until you get towards the end of your bargaining spiel.
• Try the walk away method. If the price was right, the seller will stop you from walking away. Naturally they are trying to get as much out of you as possible so don’t be the weak link. Hold your ground. Sometimes you will lose and your walk away bluff will result in you losing the item. Most of the time, however, the negotiations will reopen as soon as you take your first steps.
It is supremely important to stick to a deal once you make it. You don’t want to be responsible for making your whole country look bad by going back on a deal. Despite what anyone tells you, you are somewhat of an ambassador for your homeland. While some sellers overseas may change a deal once it is made, it is important to always uphold your end and take the high road. It is not at all uncommon in Central Asia and other nearby regions for a deal to be reached and then, as the product is being delivered the deal will change. Keep a level head and don’t ever give in to someone who breaks a deal. For example, we set a price for a cab ride in advance across a section of desert in Uzbekistan, as is the custom. Mid way across the desert, to no one’s real surprise, the driver pulled over and demanded more money to finish crossing the desert. When something like this happens, even if it makes your life a bit more difficult, you have to hold your ground. If they really won’t honor the original deal, get out of the car with all of your belongings. Someone else will pick you up. If you do pay someone extortion like that you make it worse down the road for the next guy, and make the scam artist a life-long fan of continuing this practice. We forced a driver to pull over and got out with all of our gear, leaving him with nothing for driving us half way. He could either stick to the original deal or get nothing. Naturally, he got us back into the car and we paid the original price. He tried the entire drive to get more money out of us, which is always annoying, but sticking to something you shake hands on is important as a person, and as a representative.