Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Negotiating Your Way through East Africa

I live in a culture of constant negotiation. If you lack skill in this area you may not last long here.

Prices in stores and shops are ‘fixed’ but I really doesn’t hurt to ask.

In open air markets everything must be bargained for. It’s expected. I’ve noticed at the craft market things are so inflated for the ‘first price’ so as to gouge the tourists who may not even try to bargain. I usually tell the seller before I ask the price, “Now don’t scare me away when you tell me how much. I’m not a tourist.” Even if they start me at a ‘resident’s price’ they expect to bargain. Honestly, it’s half the fun.

Why? It builds a relationship. Since I am not a tourist, I will be back if I get a good price and a quality product. And the building of a relationship is what makes it so fun.

This weekend I was the first in my small group to arrive at a restaurant where we were gathering for an afternoon social. I was surprised to find they were serving a buffet and really pushing it, not wanting to cook off the regular menu. I told them we weren’t expecting to pay so much for a whole heavy meal. Eventually the ala carte menu came.

While they arranged the tables for our group, the manager told the buffet is normally 1500 but for us he would make it 1100 each for us. And half price for the kids. I hadn’t even tried.

One day I was at a new doctor. I asked after the initial appointment for the cost of the visit so I could pay. I was honestly a bit shocked it was so high and I said as much to the receptionist. She immediately shaved 1000 shillings off the visit. I was equally as shocked, but proceeded to try to get her to come down further, almost without thinking. It’s must be in my blood.

There’s a line from a movie, “Nothing is final until you’re dead. And even then I’m sure God negotiates.” Certainly the first half of that statement is true.

1 comment:

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