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By Sumayyah Meehan, April (2013) edition of bazaar
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The Art of the Deal
The Art of the Deal

“A penny saved is a penny earned.” ~Benjamin Franklin

Everyone loves a deal. Pinch a few fils here and a Kuwaiti Dinar there. You can actually save quite a nice sum of money by simply honing your haggling techniques. Kuwait is a haggler’s paradise. And for those who have never tried it, you don’t know what you are missing. There’s no shame in arguing over the price of something, however pick your battles wisely. Franchised chain stores or restaurants are the last place one would ever try to haggle and it might just get you thrown out. However, small privately owned businesses are the best places to score a killer deal. When haggling in Kuwait there are several strategies that can help you walk away with a fuller wallet:

Customer Loyalty

One of the best ways to get a discounted price on an item you want to buy is to buy it from one of the small businesses that you regularly frequent. For years, I’ve gone to the exact same fabric store whenever I want to switch up my wardrobe with some custom sewn creations. And each time I ask for a discount citing that I am the most loyal and best customer they’ve ever had. And since I am a “regular” I always manage to walk away with at least a 20% discount. Quite amusingly, I’ve heard a couple of other customers asking for discounts merely on a whim, and they are turned down flat. Capitalize on your customer loyalty and save a few Dinars for a rainy day.

Master Your Poker Face

The absolute biggest mistake any haggler can make is to overtly covet, cradle, or caress the item that is up for price negotiations. This is because once the salesman knows just how much you want it he’s going to fight over it like a dog salivating over a juicy bone. I don’t care if it is a jewel encrusted iPhone cover that would look simply smashing on your mobile device, pretend that is a hairball that your cat coughed up that morning and look at it with deserved disdain. Keep your poker face on before, during, and after negotiations have ceased. No worries, you can still do the funky chicken dance in the parking lot on your way home.

Be Ready to Walk Away

It’s no secret that many products sold in Kuwait have inflated prices that are often jacked up to twice their retail value. So it’s important to realize that there is a bit of wiggling room for negotiations with the salesperson, and you shouldn’t feel bad about haggling. I never do, because I know that my financial state is of little consequence to the store owner who has inflated the price unfairly. With that being said, you’ll most likely run into a salesman, or woman, who adamantly refuses to haggle and insists that the sale price is “fixed” and that he or she cannot do anything about it. Now if you believe that, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I want to sell you. Be ready to walk away if the price is too high for the value of the product and your ability to haggle is compromised. Chances are, before you can even exit the door, the salesman will either make a counter offer, or grant your original offer to make the sale. 

Haggling is not for the faint of heart. However, the burst of adrenaline you feel once you’ve haggled successfully for the first time, is worth its weight in gold. And remember that practice makes perfect. The more you haggle, the easier it will become and the more money you’ll save.

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