Last weekend, my partner, S, had an event in Mexico City. I decided to tag along. From the moment we flew over the city I felt similarities with Tehran: the air, the feel of the city, even the streets. The warnings about taxicabs reminded me of the ones mom would give in Iran: “Make sure you only use the green cabs. Do not trust regular cars who offer rides.”
On our last day there, we tried their indoor bazaar. Shops lined up shoulder to shoulder, with vendors eager to get our attention. “Look at this miss. Go ahead. Open and see it for jourself. Jes miss.” “Come in, come in.” “It is 750 pesos but I give you discount. 700.” It was just like Iran minus the accent.
I remembered my dad’s impeccable haggling skills. When we shopped in a bazaar in Iran, he negotiated a 50% off a suitcase. By God, I have his genes. Watch me haggle.
We walked into a silver shop. All I wanted was a toe-ring and an anklet. She showed me something that could qualify as an anklet and offered to size it right there so I could try it on. I had no obligation to buy it, she promised.
As she fiddled with the anklet, I started looking around and found a beautiful bracelet. Before I could make up my mind, S noticed a cuff bracelet too. I asked for the price. She weighed it. The cuff is 925 and the regular bracelet is 504 pesos. It was time to start haggling. Is that your last offer, I asked. She said 884 for the cuff and 500 for the bracelet. Good start. With my haggling abilities, I might get them for free.
Another important piece of information here is that we had to leave the store in ten minutes to make it to the event that S was attending, our reason for being in Mexico City. Naturally, S was beginning to feel antsy, so I sent him away and came back to start haggling dad’s style.
“Give me your best price for these two bracelets.”
“448 for one and 884 for the other. I can only give the discount if you buy with cash.”
Here’s my chance. “Great. I have 550 pesos total. How about 550 for both?”
“Oh no. I can’t do that.”
“Can you give me the cuff for 550.”
“No. I have to charge for the design.”
Hmm. This wasn’t as easy as I thought. She removed a link from the bracelet to make it fit my wrist. Now, by weight, it came to 448 pesos. Remember that was supposed to be her discount price for the initial weight. By then, S was ready to kill me. Besides, two other customers, who could make up their mind in a normal time, were paying for their merchandise. So, I did my calculation: 448+884. I’ll pay 550 cash and the rest on credit card.
She took the remaining number, multiplied it by 6% bank fee. Wait. What? That was not in the explanation. “This is out my hands. It’s what the banks charge.” Guess what the number came to? 926 pesos.
In case it’s not clear I actually paid more after my haggling. Not to mention wasting time and energy, pissing myself off for a major failure, and pissing S off for all the time I wasted.
No ladies and gentlemen, haggling is not genetic. It’s an art.