A few simple bargaining or haggling
tips will help you get the
best price for whatever
you buy in Turkey.
Bargaining or haggling is a tradition in Turkey as in many other countries.
Shoppers in Europe and America bargain
over price when they buy cars, houses
and other expensive items. In Turkey,
bargaining is extended to include many
less valuable items, especially unique
handmade goods such as carpets,
crafts, artwork and antiques,
items which do not have standardized
markets. You can—and should—also
bargain for hotels rooms in
many cases. (For shopping on tours,
Tours in Turkey.)
Many people find bargaining tedious
and distasteful. Get over it! Pazarlık (bargaining) is
a social as well as a business practice
in Turkey, and can be relatively pleasant
when done properly.
Here are Tom's rules for getting
a good price:
1. Know the Market
examine goods and ask prices in several
shops (at least three) to get a sense
of the market before bargaining. This
is particularly important for carpet
2. Don't show enthusiasm for the
item you want.
A poker face pays
off, believe me. Look at several
items. Don't ask prices for awhile,
but when you do, ask the prices of
several items, whether you're interested
in them or not. Act as though the
piece you really, really want is
only so-so, not a big deal.
3. Decide what you think a piece
is worth to you.
are distressed to find that someone
else bought a similar item for less.
Don't worry about it! Sometimes you'll
be the one getting the best price.
If you decide what an item is worth
to you and pay no more than that,
how can you go wrong? By definition,
you've received value for your money.
People who play the "I-got-it-cheaper" game
need to get a life.
4. Let the shopkeeper quote the
If a shopkeeper
asks "What will you pay?" you
should ask again "What's the
price?" The shopkeeper's price
will be higher than what s/he expects
you to pay. There's no fixed formula
for making your counter-offer.
It should be substantially less than
you expect or want to pay, a half
or even a quarter of the shopkeeper's
price (depending on how inflated
that is). If your counter-offer is
way too low, however, the shopkeeper
will know he's dealing with someone
who doesn't know the market (see Rule
No. 1, above), or doesn't get
what bargaining is all about.
5. If you buy several items, get
It's always easier
to get a lower price if you buy several
items, just like anywhere in the
6. Don't haggle over pennies.
you're close to agreement on price,
don't let a few Turkish
liras get in
the way of your satisfaction.
7. Don't be afraid to walk away...(and
perhaps come back).
of those philosophical conundrums: you
get the best price on an item if
you can convince yourself that you
really don't need it. If you
really can't bring yourself to pay
the shopkeeper's final price, thank
him or her and walk out of the shop.
Seeing a potential sale walking
away, the shopkeeper may meet
your price (or at least offer a further
discount). If not, then you've learned
that the shopkeeper's price is firm,
and you can return in an hour or
a day and buy the item at that price,
or you can look for it elsewhere,
knowing the market better.
8. Don't feel obligated to buy
unless you've agreed on a price.
is a social custom in Turkey. You
will be offered tea, coffee or soft
drinks, and perhaps cigarettes, snacks,
perhaps even a meal. The shopkeeper
may wait on you for a considerable
time, showing you dozens of items
and explaining their qualities. Even
so, you are not obligated to buy anything
at all! Distrust any shopkeeper who
tries to burden you with the feeling
that you should buy "because
s/he has spent a lot of time with
you." Leave the shop and don't
go back. You have no obligation whatsoever!
However, if you offer a price and
the shopkeeper agrees to it, you've
made a verbal contract and you have
an obligation to buy the item at
the price agreed upon. Don't offer
a price unless you're ready to buy
the item at that price.
9. Assume that any price agreed
upon is for cash.
anywhere from 2% to 6% to clear a
credit card transaction. Unless you
have discussed the payment method,
any price arrived at is presumed
to be payable in cash. The shopkeeper
may charge you the credit card
fee, or a fee for changing travelers
checks. You should check to see if
you can pay in any method other than Turkish
lira cash, and what requirements
there might be.
10. Be careful with
"Tax Free Shopping" transactions.
11. Take your purchases with you
Many shops will
ship your purchase home for you reliably,
a few may not. There have been instances
in which someone has purchased an
expensive carpet but has had a cheap
but similar carpet arrive at their
home. In a few cases, the purchase
is never shipped, or is "lost
in shipment." If you must have
the shop ship your purchase, find
out as much as possible about the
shipping process, and try to confirm
all aspects of it.
12. Do not buy antiquities!
Read this warning.
—by Tom Brosnahan