If you’re planning on visiting China or Taiwan then haggling is a skill that is essential to learn. Bargaining for a better price is common practice in most night markets and small shops, and even the larger retailers have some leeway for discount if you are buying goods over a certain value. So it’s definitely worth your while to learn a few phrases to help you avoid being taken advantage of while navigating the sea of people in a Taiwanese night market.
creative commons image courtesy Prince Roy
The price is over my budget
There’s no way that you can buy something that costs more than the money you have. Letting the seller know that you are on a budget is a good way to pursuade them to lower the price. Consider this conversation over the price of clothing:
Note: as Hooey points out in the comments below, if you are in Shanghai then you’d want to start bargaining from 10 or 20% of the original cost. The following example is more common in Taiwan, in a small retail shop, for instance.
lǎo bǎn, qǐng wèn zhè jiàn yī fú duō shǎo qián ?
Excuse me, boss. How much is this item of clothing?
zhè jiàn yī fú 590 yuán
This one is $590NT.
kě yǐ suàn pián yí yī diǎn mā?
Can you give me a better price?
suàn nǐ 550 yuán jiù hǎo
I can give it to you for $550NT
jià gé hái shì yǒu diǎn chāo guò wǒ de yù suàn le, rú guǒ kě yǐ suàn 500 yuán de huà, wǒ jiù mǎi
The price is still a bit over my budget, if you can do it for $500NT I’ll take it.
Can you give me a discount？
A lot of the time you’ll find that to get a discount, all you need to do is ask:
kě yǐ tí gōng yī diǎn zhé kòu mā?
Could you offer me any discount?
zhè gè jià qián tài gāo le, kě yǐ gěi wǒ zhé kòu mā?
The price is really too high. Is there any discount you can give me?
nǐ kě yǐ gěi wǒ zuì duō de zhé kòu shì duō shǎo? nǐ kě yǐ suàn duō biàn yí?
What’s the most discount you can give me? How much cheaper can you offer?
rú guǒ kě yǐ dǎ bā zhé de huà wǒ jiù mǎi.
If you can give me a 20 percent discount I’ll take it.
chú fēi nǐ zài pián yí yī diǎn, bú rán wǒ bú mǎi.
Unless you can lower the price, there’s no way I can buy it.
There’s more than one way to skin a cat, if you’d rather not directly ask for a discount, you could ask for a deal on quantity, mention that a competitor has a better price, or point out a product defect:
rú guǒ wǒ mǎi duō yī diǎn kě yǐ bǐ jiào pián yí mā?
If I buy more than one can you offer me a better price?
qián jǐ jiān diàn wǒ yě yǒu kàn dào xiāng tóng de dōng xī dàn shì jià qián bǐ jiào dī! kě yǐ gěi tóng yàng de jià qián mā?
I have seen the same thing in another shop for a lower price, will you match their price?
zhè yǒu yī diǎn diǎn xiá cī! kě yǐ gěi wǒ duō yī diǎn zhé kòu mā?
This one has a defect, can you give me an additional discount?
Don’t be afraid to ask
If you’re from a western country then haggling in a shop for a better price might seem quite alien. But in China and Taiwan it’s common place, so just give it a shot, you’ll be surprised at how much money you can save.
Have you ever tried bargaining for a better price using Chinese? What happened? Where you successful?