28. February 2014 – 12:48
In India, almost everything is haggled over, especially as a tourist one should be well practiced in this activity of bargaining and not too squeamish.
However, there are exceptions: for food, especially in shops, at vegetable stalls and restaurants, it is generally not bargained. Even with entrance fees or tickets, such as tickets for buses and trains, you should not start haggling at all. In addition, there are a few stores where it is specifically stated that these are fixed prices, i.e. fixed prices and haggling makes little sense.
Otherwise, haggling is allowed! However, there is no exact guideline by how much percent one should try to negotiate the price down. Sometimes you can count yourself lucky to have an item only 50 rupees cheaper, another time you may still pay too much even at half the price mentioned before.
It is best not to by all the souvenirs on the first few days, but only to observe it first. So it makes sense to go to different stores to see how much rupees the item is worth it. Even sample haggling makes sense and simply call an outrageous low price. I was often surprised that I actually got the scarf or the jewelry box for it!
In general, it is important not to really want to have the item or at least to pretend so: you only look once, ask for the price, name a lower price and if you don’t get this price, then you just leave (slowly!!) the store. Most of the time you are called back by the owner.
I also believe that it is perfectly okay to pay a price that is worth the product, because the seller has to live on something. However, some prices, especially in the tourist regions, are unashamedly high. Especially in the tourist places such as In Agra, Varanasi and Jaipur, you should avoid shopping in general. These places are often visited by the more affluent foreign visitors, who only make a short trip to India and are willing to pay far too much. It is not worth bargaining here, as the trader knows that he can sell the jewelry to another tourist with significantly higher profits.
Bargaining can be fun, especially if you’ve been successful. However, it is also often exhausting. Sometimes it is ok to simply pay the mentioned price for the rickshaw ride, what difference do 20 rupees make at the end? At least not a significant one for us, but the rickshaw driver is happy to bring something extra back home!