How To Haggle Like A Dominican
When in Rome do as the Romans do.
When in the Dominican Republic haggle like the Dominicans do.
As a native to California haggling or negotiating, if you prefer the more refined term, didn’t come naturally to me.
For those of us that grew up in developing countries, haggling has become a lost art that has been replaced by supermarket price tags and Amazon store fixed prices.
For Dominicans, haggling is a skill learned as child and is necessary to buy anything from vegetables to motorcycles. It took me about 2 months in the Dominican Republic to realize just about everything is negotiable.
Short story, if you wish to buy anything in the Dominican Republic, but don’t know how to haggle, you are likely to get ripped off. Fortunately, haggling isn’t a difficult skill to learn and with a practice you can become a haggling guru.
Here a 3 haggling tips that I learned during my time in the Dominican Republic that are sure to save you a load money on your vacation.
Figure Out Basic Prices
One of the most popular souvenirs in the Dominican Republic is amber jewelry made from local stones, so we will use that as an example for this article.
Let’s imagine for a second that you wish to buy an amber necklace from a tourist shop. How do you know what it is worth? How do you know if the vendor is ripping you off or not?
It isn’t really that hard, all you need to do is figure out the basic price of amber necklaces. The easiest way of doing this is go to 4 or 5 vendors and see what type of prices they offer.
You’d be surprised how much prices can vary. It is not uncommon to see one vendor literally selling the same item for half the price that another vendor ten feet away is selling it for.
Let’s say you talk to 4 or 5 vendors the high price for an amber necklace is 500 pesos and the lowest is 250 pesos. So now you know 250 pesos is your basic price, you will pay a maximum of 250 pesos on an amber necklace and no more.
A little later on, we will talk about how to use this knowledge to your benefit.
Look for defects or inferior traits in the product
Jewelry made of local stones such as amber or larimar or souvenirs that are hand carved out of local wood, almost always have small imperfections. The amber may be foggy or the carving may have a small nick or crack.
Most of us don’t mind those little imperfections, they give these handmade trinkets personality and character, but we don’t let the vendor know that. Imperfections are powerful tools to get a little bit better price.
For example, when looking at the amber necklace, you might hum and hall a little bit and tell the vendor, “I don’t know if I want it, the amber is a little foggy.”
You are almost guaranteed to get a price drop after pointing out the defect.
You already have 250 pesos as your basic price for an amber necklace, now you get to use that knowledge. 9 times out of 10 the vendor that gives you the lowest price will not have the item you really like.
Maybe one vendor will sell you the amber necklace 250 pesos, but another vendor has the perfect necklace and he wants 400 pesos.
Now we can take tip #2 and add in tip #3.
Go to the vendor with the necklace you like and say something like this: “I don’t know if I want that necklace, that guy over there said he would sell me an amber necklace 250 pesos and it wasn’t as foggy as this one.”
The thought of you buying a better version of the item somewhere else, 95% of the time will make the vendor cut the price down to at least 250 pesos and many times will get them to drop to 225 or 200 to undercut the price of the other vendor and get the sale.
Amber necklaces are common souvenirs in the Dominican Republic, so we used it as an example, but this same process works for just about any item you would like to by.
Practice these haggling tips and you will be haggling guru saving tons of money before you know it.