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Price Haggling and Negotiation Norms in Dominican Republic

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Price haggling in the Dominican Republic is the norm and you can have a lot of fun doing it. Vendors would rather have a sale than not, so hold your ground and you will get your purchase at the price you offered.

If you have good bargaining skills it is a very useful asset when you visit the Dominican Republic. Situated on the island of Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean, the vendors expect you to negotiate even down to the last peso.

However prices in the Dominican Republic can vary depending what part of the country you visit. The cost of items in Santo Domingo may be completely different to those in Santiago, Samana or Puerto Plata.

There are some tips that will help you get your purchase for the price you are aiming for.

  1. Dress down and do not wear any expensive jewellery. Vendors are very shrewd and will spot you as a tourist immediately, but if you wear flash clothes and a lot of gold jewellery they will assume you are a wealthy tourist and hike the prices up.
  2. Try to learn the language (Spanish) before you go as it can save you money. A useful phrase is "Cuanto Cuesta, es muy Caro, no me gusta, vengo despues mor allies mas barato." It will take the vendor by surprise and guarantee you a lower price.
  3. If you see something you like do not rush in and try to purchase it straight away. Look round other stalls or shops that are selling the same item and note the prices. It will give you an idea of the true value and help you negotiate.
  4. Offer half the amount the vendor is asking for and do not feel guilty. You can always go up a peso or two but it is easier to go up than go down.
  5. If the vendor refuses your offer walk away. Do not look back and do not give any indication you are prepared to return to the stall. Nothing scares a vendor more than having no sale, so it won't be long before he chases after you, invites you back to his stall and lets you have the object for the price you offered.
  6. Another trick is to plead poverty. If the vendor asks for a certain amount of pesos you can say you only have a certain amount and show him he money, the chances are he will accept as again he would rather have a sale than not.

Souvenirs in the Dominican Republic range from locally-made crafts, colorful Dominican and Haitan paintings, wood and soapstone carvings, ceramics, fine amber and Lorimar jewellery, beachwear and sarongs. The most popular purchases are still Dominican-made cigars, rum and coffee.

Once you have developed the art of bargaining and haggling with vendors you can have a lot of fun doing it.

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Amanda Wilkins

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