Learn to Bargain in Spanish like a Pro
I promised to teach you to bargain like a pro, so now it’s time to do it!
A tourist who sounds like a local when shopping will take shopkeepers by surprise and avoid getting ripped off. You needn’t overpay, after all! Here are the negotiation tactics and phrases that will win you the best possible deals:
Shopping for Souvenirs
First and foremost, try to sound like you know what you are talking about.
The easiest way of saving money is to get a package deal for buying more things. So, walk around eyeing the items offered by different shopkeepers and then approach the one who has the most things you would like to buy. Ask him/her: “¿Me puede hacer un descuento si compro…?” and complete the phrase by enumerating all the items you’d like to buy. Do your best to sound casual, like saving money is not your chief goal. You will most certainly get a positive reply. If you want to buy, say, 3 identical scarves each of which costs $15, proceed with a statement “Dame 3 por 30.” Tip: Don’t be a softie! Don’t ask questions or apologize! Speak with confidence – you are not asking to give you the goods for free, you are paying a fair price. The shopkeeper will probably not hesitate to agree, because he knows there are cheekier shoppers who might ask for a much lower price.
If you do not need various goods, try another tactic. Say, you especially liked a beautiful hand crafted bracelet, but the price is outrageous! Don’t just take that – handle the problem like a local:
You can start with “Pero allá cuesta $12” (Over there it costs $12) or something more specific like “La señora de allá me lo dejó en $12.” (The lady over there would give it to me for $12). The shopkeeper has to understand that you are asking around, comparing prices and will buy from the one who offers the best deal. This is why he will either try to explain why his bracelet is better or offer you a slightly higher price than you asked for: “Okay, te lo dejo en $14.”
If it is not the offer you’d like to get, continue bargaining to further reduce the price:
¿Cómo arreglamos? - How can we fix this? – this is very polite, because you are not insisting, you are interested in hearing the shopkeeper’s point of view to find a compromise and buy it from him, not anybody else.
¿Cuál es el precio final final? - What’s your final final price?
¿Cuánto es lo último para llevármelo ahorita? -What’s the lowest price if I buy it right now?
Bah, ¡déjamelo en $12 y me lo llevo! - Give me a$12 and I’ll take it now!
¡Ya para llevármelo ahorita! Para no volver… Okay then, I don’t want to come back! Let me walk away with this now! – you are asking to get things done here, implying you both know what the prices are.
Tome, tome - come on, take my money and let me leave with the thing!
Aahh, porfaaa. - Awww, please… - this phrase can be used with two different communicative intentions: begging (don’t forget to make puppy eyes) and being fed up (pretend you are ready to walk away).
You might want to buy some fruit or vegetables at the market, but it seems that locals get produce at lower prices than the ones you are offered. Try one of the tactics below to handle the situation:
¡Vivo aquí y gano un sueldo español! - I live here and earn a Spanish salary! – You can use the adjective related to any Spanish-speaking country. The vendor has to understand you don’t have as much money as tourists from fancy countries do. This phrase will come in especially handy if you have lived for some time in the country and are not ready to pay an extra dollar for anything.
Amigo, yo sé cómo son los precios. - Buddy, I know how the prices are.
Pero la semana pasada usted me lo dejó en … - But last week you gave me … - complete the phrase with the price you used to buy the thing for. Prices may change depending on how good the crop was or what season it is. Vendors are not necessarily trying to rip you off – it may be as unpleasant for them as it is for you. Sound like you are just wondering about the reasons. As a result, the vendor will either offer a lower price or explain himself.
Remember to finish every transaction with “muy amable” (very kind of you) or simply “Muchas gracias.”
Hope you’ll quickly get the hang of things and start negotiating like a big boss!