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  • Learning to Bargain

    Bargaining, in small ways, varies from country to country and learning how has been a complicated task for me here. I reckon Indonesians love to bargain. After I hesitate on a price, they ask, berapa? So, I try to give a fair price and we sometimes meet in the middle. I'm often confronted with this dilemma when I'm at the pasar.

    I understand certain locals need the money, but I'm also on a budget and not rolling in cash. I learned not to ask how much when I first select an item. Since my Bahasa Indonesia is limited, I simply give the amount I think it should cost and often times they take it and even give me change. Other times they'll ask for a bit more and in my view, isn't a whole lot. There are times when they ask for WAY more and I say mahal, walk away, and then they agree to the last price.

    Occasionally, the above methods don't always work and the merchants get upset, which makes me feel bad, but like I said, I'm a poor foreigner trying to make a living too. If I could, I'd pay what they want, since it is cheaper if you convert it to any other currency that's worth more.

    So, does anyone have any suggestions, in Bahasa Indonesia, on tactics/phrases that I can use when I negotiate in the future? Keeping in mind that I have a remedial, sedikit, understanding of the bargaining culture here.

    Merdeka!

  • #2
    Originally posted by Panoflex View Post
    Bargaining, in small ways, varies from country to country and learning how has been a complicated task for me here. I reckon Indonesians love to bargain. After I hesitate on a price, they ask, berapa? So, I try to give a fair price and we sometimes meet in the middle. I'm often confronted with this dilemma when I'm at the pasar.

    I understand certain locals need the money, but I'm also on a budget and not rolling in cash. I learned not to ask how much when I first select an item. Since my Bahasa Indonesia is limited, I simply give the amount I think it should cost and often times they take it and even give me change. Other times they'll ask for a bit more and in my view, isn't a whole lot. There are times when they ask for WAY more and I say mahal, walk away, and then they agree to the last price.

    Occasionally, the above methods don't always work and the merchants get upset, which makes me feel bad, but like I said, I'm a poor foreigner trying to make a living too. If I could, I'd pay what they want, since it is cheaper if you convert it to any other currency that's worth more.

    So, does anyone have any suggestions, in Bahasa Indonesia, on tactics/phrases that I can use when I negotiate in the future? Keeping in mind that I have a remedial, sedikit, understanding of the bargaining culture here.

    Merdeka!
    In no specific order:

    Try to get a feel for what prices are supposed to be from Indonesian friends, especially for things that you use a lot. That way you know where to aim when bargaining.

    Bargain away: if they don't make a profit, the won't accept your offer.

    I am a lazy bargainer, but even asking a simple, "Wah, mahal ya? Gak bisa kurang?" without saying a number will often get 10-25% off whatever the asking price was.

    Play the bulk card: If I buy x amount, can you lower the price? "Kalau beli x, berapa harganya?"

    Once you do make an offer, it is good etiquette to follow through once it is accepted.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by dafluff View Post
      In no specific order:

      Try to get a feel for what prices are supposed to be from Indonesian friends, especially for things that you use a lot. That way you know where to aim when bargaining.

      Bargain away: if they don't make a profit, the won't accept your offer.

      I am a lazy bargainer, but even asking a simple, "Wah, mahal ya? Gak bisa kurang?" without saying a number will often get 10-25% off whatever the asking price was.

      Play the bulk card: If I buy x amount, can you lower the price? "Kalau beli x, berapa harganya?"

      Once you do make an offer, it is good etiquette to follow through once it is accepted.
      You make it seem so intuitive. Makes complete sense. I'll try that tomorrow when I membeli sayuran! Thanks, dafluff.

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      • #4
        Just think what the item means to you and how much you would be prepared to pay for it, simple as that. If their price is close to what you had in mind for example 75 when you thought 60 see if they will split the difference. The trick is to not show too much enthusiasm and be prepared to walk away, if you act "cuek" they will go the distance to close the sale.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Panoflex View Post

          Occasionally, the above methods don't always work and the merchants get upset, which makes me feel bad,
          Don't feel bad. As long as you are being respectful in your negotiations you have done nothing wrong. Chances are the seller is just playing mind games with you, or is disappointed that s/he couldn't talk you into a higher price. Or who knows - maybe the price you offered WAS unintentionally so low that the merchant took it as an insult. Even so you did nothing wrong, and it's doubtful the seller cares deeply.

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          • #6
            Yup, walking away is the answer! If the 'sellers' still want to sell, they will call you back.
            It's not because I have a different skin, that I want to pay more than the locals. If, for me the price isn't the same as for the locals, I walk and shop somewhere else. My next door neighbor sells Coca-cola for 6.000/kaleng... if I walk 3 streets further, they sell it for 5.000... I walk the 3 streets :-)
            Yesterday, I came home from Singapore(earlier than my wife) and I paid Rp5.000 less for my taxi than my wife.
            There's a big difference between kneeling down and bending over(FZ)

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            • #7
              Oh ya, always keep smiling and joking... it gets you a long way.
              There's a big difference between kneeling down and bending over(FZ)

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              • #8
                My wife has a little different way of haggling for a price. I have seen her first ask the price. When she gets it, like 1 juta, she looks surprised and while turning around to leave will tell them she will give them 200 rebu. They always stop her and give a little lower price figuring she will come up in hers. She will then look at the item and offer 150 rebu. The shop person first looks surprised. Then offers a lower price then they stated before normally saying it is the lowest price they can go to. My wife will stay on the 150 rebu for awhile. The merchant is starting to beg for her to offer more. My wife will eventually tell them that if they really want to sell the item she will come up to 200 rebu or she will just find it somewhere else. The shop keeper normally says he/she can't so my wife turns to leave. She normally then gets it for the 200 rebu. While they are used to people negotiating up and down to come to a fair price, my wife's way seems to catch them off guard and is a different approach then they are accustomed to. More times then not it seems to work. Especially in Bali where the neighboring stall may have the same items and they have ridicules markups. Worked in Jakarta too but not all the time.
                [COLOR=#333333][FONT=Verdana]Some love to milk Apostate.[/FONT][/COLOR]

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                • #9
                  It depends to every shop, but usually at the first time you get to the store, just show them you don't really interesting to the things you wanna buy, the seller will make it cheaper, somehow... Good luck deh!
                  Life is a bumpy road. If you keep positive, you will be just fine.

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                  • #10
                    1 jt to 200k is a huge drop. Either they are starving, and needing to move some stock, or they're pegging your wife as a big spender. I rarely get more than a 50% discount.
                    Sasa Bule is having a bayi!

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                    • #11
                      So, I incorporated some of the above suggestions that were made in the past couple days. My first response was always, "Wah, mahal ya? Gak bisa kurang?" and it seems to trigger a lower amount almost immediately. I combined the tactic of buying in bulk, negotiate, then walk away tactic and every time I've done that I get at least 30-40% off.

                      I did notice that you can't bargain bensin from those small gas station shops that locals run on the side of roads (is there an Indonesian name for them?). So, I stopped doing that when I realized Pertamina sells a liter at 6.750,00 IDR. I might be getting ahead of myself bargaining with everyone.

                      Thanks for the advice, all!

                      Respectfully,
                      -Panoflex

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Panoflex View Post
                        I did notice that you can't bargain bensin from those small gas station shops that locals run on the side of roads (is there an Indonesian name for them?).
                        We called it "bensin eceran". And yes, you cant bargain with them nor with the shops or sellers who say / write "harga pas", means fixed price.

                        I know its not all of them and I dont mean to generalizing, but I found Madurese here in Surabaya a bit hard to bargain. I dont know in KalBar, but there are many here, and I would be very careful buying something from them. I learned it a hard way one day, when I bargain for durian. We were agreed with a price, and when the fruit is ready and I was handed the money, she asked for more. No way I want to pay more than the agreed price, so we were arguing and I left empty handed. Not the fruit that matter but her way of trying to deceive me was really not nice.
                        Words can inspire, thoughts can provoke, but only action can get you closer to your dreams.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Alia View Post
                          We were agreed with a price, and when the fruit is ready and I was handed the money, she asked for more. No way I want to pay more than the agreed price, so we were arguing and I left empty handed. Not the fruit that matter but her way of trying to deceive me was really not nice.
                          I have had this on a few occassions, and its usually followed by the classic "salah omong" (spoke wrong) line, to which i usually say "kalau begitu saya salah setujuh (if like that i wrongly agreed) at which point i walk away. On a point of principle if they have tried to decieve me i will not buy from them irrespective of the price offered.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Panoflex View Post
                            I did notice that you can't bargain bensin from those small gas station shops that locals run on the side of roads (is there an Indonesian name for them?). So, I stopped doing that when I realized Pertamina sells a liter at 6.750,00 IDR. I might be getting ahead of myself bargaining with everyone.
                            Based on my experience, buying "bensin" at those shops is not recommended. Well, not every place did this but sometimes, they mix the gas with other liquid such as kerosene, or worse, water. you know....for bigger profit.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I know this is off topic +/- but I asked about gasoline.
                              What about quality? What about grades? Octane? Premium??
                              Some of the chapters of my life are pretty boring but some of the pages are fascinating.

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