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Thursday, 25 February 2010

Strike that bargain: haggling your way through Turkey's bazaars

Turkey's bazaars are packed full of souvenirs, fruit and veges, antiques, clothing, cosmetics, accessories – you name it. Shopping in Turkey is often chaotic, but always satisfying. However, expats and tourists are often mystified by the simple process of shopping when they reach Turkey. It’s rare that prices are marked, and even if they are – is that really how much the item costs?

To ease your bargaining woes, we’ve compiled a handy guide to striking a deal at Turkey's many bazaars.

Bargaining is expected

You are expected to haggle for whatever you buy. Even if the object is marked with a price, the stallholder has taken haggling into account. If you don't bother to bargain, you will be paying an absurdly inflated price. So don't be shy when it comes to making an offer.

Do your homework

Before making an offer, take a look around the bazaar and compare a few prices - don't settle for the first stall you see. You may be surprised at the difference in price, and you can use these differences as leverage when you finally go to make an offer on your desired item. While you are looking around, keep in mind what you believe to be a good price, and work towards it.

Play the game

It's likely that when you make an offer the vendor will act insulted by the amount. This is standard practice and should be taken in good fun. It's also handy to employ your best poker face when you hit the bazaars – do not exclaim over an item or say it's just what you want. Stay cool, act a little disinterested. The merchant will realise it's just as easy for you to go elsewhere for that item.

Inspect the item

When you've decided on the item you want to buy, examine it carefully for any defects. If you find anything wrong, you can use this as a bargaining tool, or ask the vendor to find an identical, but undamaged item. If you don't mind the flaw, you can use it to get a lower price – even if it's something that's easily repairable the price will start to come down.

Reaching a decision

If neither you nor the vendor can reach a decision on price, you have two options. Firstly, if the price is still on the high side but still close to your upper limit, ask for a small item to be included to sweeten the deal. Your second option is to thank the vendor for their time and make an exit. At this point, the vendor may finally give in and offer you the price you've been requesting all along!

Trust your instincts

After shopping around you should have a fair idea of what things should cost. If you feel you are being taken advantage of, it's likely you are. As long as you're happy with the price you paid, you have received a good deal. Don't worry – merchants know very well the value of their goods and would never sell at an unprofitable price.

Keep cool

Good bargaining requires patience. Do not get angry or shout at the seller, he or she is just doing their job. A little bit of humour never goes astray, either. Bargaining in Turkey is a social interaction as much as a transaction.