Friday, March 23, 2007

"I have good price for you, my friend"

Six floors of fake merchandise of every kind. Hundreds of Chinese women (and a few men) dressed in red who only speak enough English to pout and try to get you to buy something. It's called the Silk Market.

I went in there having been given a crash course on bargaining with the Chinese salespeople, which was basically that I should be paying 40% or less of their initial offer for my item. So picture this exchange as I eye an FC Barcelona jersey:

Saleswoman (thick Chinese accent): Oh, my friend, you like Barcelona, very good team, colors look very good on you.
Me: Yeah, they're pretty good, but I'm not sure that I want this jersey.
Saleswoman: You like other color? Or Manchester United? Jersey come with shorts...How much you offer?
Me (walking away): I'll come back later...
Saleswoman (grabbing my arm): Wait my friend, I give you jersey for 180 kuai (8 kuai=1 dollar).
Me: I just CAN'T pay that much...maybe 60 (all prices are quoted by punching them into a calculator).
Saleswoman (on the verge of tears): 50 kuai no good, this very nice jersey. 150.
Me: 60.
Saleswoman: 125.
Me: 60.
Saleswoman: 100.
Me: 60.
Saleswoman: 80.
Me: 60.
Saleswoman: Come on my friend, 70 kuai.
Me (throwing her a fricking bone): Fine. I'll take the jersey.
(Of course I hand her a 100 kuai bill! This is one of my favorite parts of the process, pretending to not be able to offer above a certain price then rubbing it in her face that I obviously have more than enough money. At this point I start to walk away.)
Saleswoman: My friend my friend, the shorts.
Me: No thanks.
Saleswoman: 30 kuai, 20 kuai, 10 kuai!!!!
Me (turning around): 10 kuai it is.

My other favorite sales moments were when I actually made a saleswoman curse at me because I wouldn't budge from 30 kuai on a mini-computer mouse and when I would buy an item for 40 kuai and then as I was paying the salesman would say, "We said 45 right?"


While I did decently on some items for my first time at the market, I screwed up on others, especially polo shirts (I bought two, one is for you Tom!). Turns out that the salespeople there are now aware of the bargaining tactic of looking for about 40% of the first price. So, brilliantly, they have just jacked up the starting prices! This is most relevant for bigger-ticket items. So next time I know that when they quote me a price of 500 kuai for a sweater, I can stand firm and offer just 50!

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