Shopping, Malaysian Style
||Pasar Besar, Kota Bharu
Di Pasar Besar, Kota Bharu, nak hargha bagus, kena kechek loghat Kelanteh.
(If you want a good price at Pasar Besar, Kota Bharu, use the Kelantanese
Let's face it. In Malaysia if you don't bargain when you buy
something, you're being conned. From Pasar Malam to Kedai Runcit and taxi fares, few people pay
the price they see on the price tag, except of course, at department
stores. But even when there are gigantic signs that read "Fixed Price Only",
Malaysians still try with a "No discount-lah?".
Here's a peep at bargain-hunting,
What do you do if something catches your eye?
- No, you don't buy it!
- Think of a price you'd actually pay for it.
- If there's no price tag, ask them the price
casually (see body language below).
- Compare prices, if possible in another area
you think might sell the same goodies.
Where should you never shop?
- Tourist areas (anything on a Tourism Malaysia brochure).
- "High class" areas (where people live in massive houses, everyone
drives a Mercedes and speaks with fake British/American accents).
What if you can only get what you really want from there?
- Make sure they know you're local - speak their lingo, spit if you
can (lesson can be learned from watching Titanic).
- If you're not local, bring a local along with you (locals can be hired
by the hour or suitably bribed).
- Try being more innovative (in thinking of substitutes and substitute
- Bring friends who are well-known stooges with you when you go back.
||Jalan Petaling, KL
For AAA rated bargain-hunters only, anyone who conquers Petaling Street
in KL can conquer the world!
What is the most effective body language when bargaining?
- Look disinterested, as if you just happened to pass by that item;
never reveal that you really, really want it, even if you do.
- Avoid eye-contact and speech until you're ready to start negotiating.
- Finger an item then put it down and look at something else - do this
a few times to show just the right amount of interest.
- Start drifting away if they refuse to come down to your price - but
be careful that they know you are interested enough, so that they will
yell out to you and give in; if they don't, you've lost out buddy, and
if you can't get that item elsewhere, you're gonna have to crawl back and
What angles should you aim for?
- Try running down the item - quality, size, colour, defects,.. go on,
be creative (remember, you don't really want it, right?).
- Buy in bulk or buy something else (think Christmas or birthday gift);
if someone's with you, force them to buy something too.
- Tell the seller you come from the same kampung and soften them up
with old times you never shared (but do it before they do it to you).
How low can you go?
- Depending on what you're buying, from 10% to 70% the quoted price
at the more notorious tourist traps.
- Always "open" lower than what you're willing to pay; then gradually
go up and they'll go down - give them room to be "gracious" and you can
firmly get into the down and dirty over how they don't really need that
- Try rounding it to the nearest Ringgit.
- Get them to throw something else in.
Central Market, KL
At KL's Central Market, just chill, man; only fools will pay double
for something worth half the value.
How long should you haggle for?
- Never rush this; the seller has all the time in the world, but can
sense when the buyer is interested, so persevere.
When is it too late to go back to the first stall you bargained at?
- When you'd stuck your nose up at them, saying that you can get it
cheaper elsewhere when you hadn't done your homework yet - and then find
that you can't.
When is it too late not to buy what you've bargained for?
- When you start to walk away and they throw loud Cantonese curses upon
your mother's head until after you until you're two roads down - and they're
not even Cantonese.