I guess by now you know I am a shopping fanatic. I love shopping for unique one of a kind pieces in India and finding gifts for people back home. I like buying fabrics and making my own things, and I like buying FROM THE SOURCE, for example, I won’t buy Rajasthani stuff that is marked up in Goa. But you have to know how to negotiate in India when you shop!
How to Negotiate in India Shopping
- Read More: Shopping Guide to India by Regions
I’m sure you know that in India you have to haggle about the price. They will quote you 5x, 10x or even 30x the price of the item!
You want to be kind but also play their game, because that’s just what it is. Here are some tips for negotiating in India.
How to negotiate in India
Of course you have to ask the price. Ask like you’re not totally into it but just curious. When they tell you the price, get them the look of girl you’re crazy! and tell them it’s out of your budget and you’d never pay that much. You can even give a chuckle like good try!
If you want to start the negotiation, keep in mind usually you can get it for less than half their asking price, sometimes a quarter of it. Never start negotiating so low that you make them angry though. For something 500 Rs, I might say 200. For 1000 Rs, I might say 400. Also don’t get caught up doing it by the 100’s only. You can say 150, etc. Then you’re better off negotiating over smaller amounts as you can offer to round-up later.
Want to save a TON of money? Buy everything! The more you buy, the better price you can get. Negotiate each item individually without them realizing for sure you want all the items. Then once you have each price, add that up in your head. Say you’ll take it all for __ price, which would be a discount on the total.
When you’re at a standstill negotiating, say “tell me your best price”. It’s a nicer way of saying tell me an even lower price because I’m not paying what you’ve asked. They aren’t going to say something so low they don’t make money, but they will say something fair if they think you’re serious and going to walk away.
Do not act too excited! You could care less if you bought the piece you’re looking at. You’re just casually browsing. It’s totally “whatever” to you.
If he says a price you won’t pay just be like “ehh I didn’t want it anyways” and walk off! Often time they’ll call you back and give you the price you wanted to pay.
If they don’t call you back, and you would pay the price they said, then go back with your tail between your legs and pay it. They won’t make you feel embarrassed, it’s all part of it! You can also wait to find it somewhere else.
If you are given a price that’s clearly too high and they won’t budge, do not give them the time of day. I don’t even bother and I don’t come back after I walk away either!
Hopefully, by the end of it, you’ll get better and better. It can make you nervous at first but you don’t have to feel bad negotiating. They don’t feel bad selling it at very high prices and actually think less of people who are “dumb” enough to pay them. Sometimes if someone gives a great deal I let them keep the change so they see I appreciated it. Don’t negotiate in shops that sell food and such as those are set prices. This is just for markets! If you’re uncertain, ask if it is fixed price.
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Nice! It is all so true. A fee weeks ago I was with a friend. She needed to buy ceramic knobs for her mom. The first place said 15 rupees each. She tried to get them to 10 rupees each. He wouldn’t budge. So we went to all the other shops in the area to see if we could get them cheaper. We were quoted anywhere from 50 rupees to 80 rupees each. Haha! My friend did not want to go back to the first guy, she was embarrassed. I said to her, “what’s more important, your mother or your ego?” She decided to go back and get the knobs for 15 rupees.
hahah I love that! I have turned back tail between my legs many times. I think I know what knobs you mean and I paid 25 Rs. for them in Goa.
First rule : make sure ure looking in the correct market for the stuff in mind :) to have the right starting price to negotiate on
Thanks for the tips :) ! Always awkward for me in the beginning, scared to come across rude, but it’s just their job and their playground.
What a friend of mine also says: If you are happy with the price, just pay it. Don’t hassle for the point of hassling and getting every little thing down to a minimum. If a deal is fair enough you can agree. I don’t think its a rip off if you pay what its worth to you as we still have so much more money and those guys spend long days trying to survive (most of them).
Gave me some peace for my mind as i was constantly in the gotta-hassle-mode while touring Morocco :) !
Yes that’s definitely the way to look at it! Thanks for sharing your experience!
Great Tips!! India can be a stressful place if you aren’t firm, and you definitely can come out feeling good if you follow these tips. Thanks for sharing.
This post is really insightful and gives a ton of useful information. Negotiation etiquette varies from culture to culture, so it’s important to be mindful of how your actions and words translate. Nicely said! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks Morgan – you’re right it’s different everywhere. I’m so confident and comfortable here in India but in Istanbul I barely negotiated I was so afraid to offend someone. In Jordan it was the same- we paid way too much for an old coin but this little old man was so adorable!
Thanks for the tips! I’ve traveled to a lot of places where negotiating prices is the norm, however it is still so uncomfortable for me! Coming from somewhere where that is not ever allowed makes me feel so wrong whenever I try to negotiate in places like that. You’re right though, that it’s totally normal and not rude at all.
Yup it can seem so weird to do! I’m okay now in India and Thailand or Sri Lanka, but recently in Istanbul and Jordan I pretty much paid what was asked. I hate to negotiate when I don’t know the price because I hate to offend!
Great to read this! I’ve always been so hesitant to negotiate because of my visible privilege as a white American traveler. I don’t want to be that backpacker getting belligerent over 25 cents with someone who makes a few dollars a day (as I’ve seen happen in Vietnam) but at the same time, I don’t want to be ripped off and laughed at. It’s a fine line but I think you’ve set good guidelines to follow — this will definitely come in handy when I’m in Morocco next month!
Allison, exactly – it’s a fine line! It’s important to have patience and if they are ripping you off just go to someone more honest. More often than not, I tip that new guy as much as the other one was asking to thank him for being honest!
Some great tips! Gonna keep this in mind when I go there this summer!
I love your blog. It made me chuckle how you got all of the tips right. I being an Indian feel very intimidated so always take my dad along. He makes sure to get everything for less than 60% of the quoted price.
That’s awesome- dads are always the most helpful!
I am Indian. This is awesome to learn how to negotiate in India from an outsider. But Rachel you are bang on with your tricks. We Indian’s also negotiate the same way.
glad you liked it :)
Good day Rachel,
Your posts are so funny and informative. I have literally fallen in love with the way you use GIFs to describe the situation.
Thanks for the tips. I’ll be joining a tour next month which includes Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. Part of the tour is visiting government-approve shops for souvenirs. Can I also haggle in those shops?
Also- give more attention to pieces you don’t care much for – casually ask for all prices of all the others. They pay attention to what you’re excited about.