Price Haggling and Negotiation Norms in Haiti
Haggling for a good price is a normal part of the daily life within the loud and busy markets of Haiti. There is an art to negotiating a good price and to anyone that is inexperienced in this practice it can be a daunting procedure to go through, to successfully get through the haggling and price negotiation process there are a few simple rules to remember.
Whether you are a local or a visitor to the small and impoverished Caribbean country of Haiti when looking for bargains amongst the market traders it is important to have confidence in your abilities to negotiate, have a little local information on what is a good price and most importantly to conduct the process with an amicable attitude and to maintain a friendly good humoured negotiation you reach a price that is agreeable to both the seller and buyer.
If you are new to the process of haggling then start out small and only buy items that cost very little, that way if you pay over the odds for something you should not be too much out of pocket. As you get used to the process your confidence should improve and with it your skill to negotiate for yourself a good price.
Make good use of any local knowledge or information that may be at your disposal. If you are there in low season then you may be able to get some better bargains as sellers are less likely to make sales and may accept a price that is less beneficial to them. High season when there are lots of tourists around may not be the best time. Understand the local currency, in Haiti it is the Haitian Gourde. Learn the numbers one to ten to make negotiations easier to follow. The US Dollar is also an accepted currency in the country as well as the Haitian Dollar. This final currency does not officially exist although it is still traded amongst the Haitian market stalls. Learn local words for ‘expensive’ or ‘too expensive’ you may receive a reply you do not understand but the body language of the person speaking will help you understand the meaning, you can always smile and walk away.
By maintaining a sense of humour throughout the process and smiling you may achieve a better price than a negotiation that is conducted through anger or aggression. If you are not happy at the price walk away, the seller will soon drop the price if they think the chance of a good sale is about to disappear.
With its heavy influence on its roots in Africa the Haitian people are good at spotting the tourists and many to this part of the world can do little about not blending in easily. Even for those non locals that live in this part of the Caribbean they can be at a disadvantage through not being able to speak fluently in the local language. The opening price that will be offered will be far greater than what an item is worth, sometimes this can be ten times the market value, if you pay this price then haggling is not for you. The secret is to offer an equally undervalued bid and then negotiate your way to an agreeable price. If you begin too high your leeway to getting a good final price is less. The trader will not sell the item at a loss despite what they may be telling you.
Because of the different currencies in use ensure you are negotiating in the same monetary unit. If the trader is saying thirty dollars ensure that is Haitian Dollars as that is a little less than 4 dollars US. Some unscrupulous traders may try to claim this misunderstanding once a price is agreed if you have not clarified this detail beforehand.
Another trick or ruse to be wary of is if you pay with a large denomination note they may claim they have no change and make such a fuss over this that they hope you will say ok, forget about the change. If this happens your bargaining has been a wasted effort and they have achieved a good price, another ruse is to short change you so it is wise to check carefully.
As long as both parties in the negotiation process are happy with the final price and an agreement can be mutually agreed through an amicable process then nobody should feel cheated or conned and both the seller and buyer should be content with the price haggling process.