1) Take it as a game or humor: Egyptian vendors enjoy bargaining and you can enjoy it also by practice. Try to not spoil your trip by making such a thing annoying you. Accept that people are different and the system there allows bargaining. Therefore, it is not totally the vendors’ mistake.
2) Don’t show your interest: If you like something, try to hide your feelings and even don’t show them in your eyes. Ask about the price of other couple of things; follow this by asking about the thing you like with lack of interest as if you are just asking about it.
3) Learn few Arabic words:
- Shokran à Thank you
- La Shokran à No, thank you.
- Salam alikom à something like Hi. It is said in the beginning and the end of a conversation. It means “peace on you”. You can say salam in short
- Walikom alsalam à the reply to salam alikom. It means “peace on you as well”
- Ezzak (male), Ezzaek (female) à how are you?
- Alhamdolellah à the reply to Ezzak.
- In Shaa Allahà God willing. It is used whenever you are telling something about the future. See you again In Shaa Allah.
But, don’t worry. Most Egyptians are familiar with simple English statements. However, using Arabic words makes your conversation a kind of friendly and shows that you are not completely a tourist; may be someone who is living here for a while.
4) Explorer First: Go and see other stores before you decide what you are going to buy. It is useful when you tell the vendor I saw it in the store next to you with half the price, I’m going buy it from there.
5) Ask non-vendor Egyptians: The Egyptians are very helpful. It is not annoying at all to stop any of them and ask whatever you want. They will try hard to help you. Therefore, you can ask someone Egyptian, not in front of the vendor, how much you think this worth. You know he/she may come with you and bargain the vendor.
6) Make very low offer: Vendors’ initial prices are often multiples higher than the “real” price. The final price that you will end with should be a little bit higher of your first offer to show the vendor that you have made some sacrifices.
Example: If he said 100 L.E., Tell him
what???? 100 L.E. Do I look like stupid? Or maybe you think that I am rich?
Only 20 L.E. usually, you will end up paying 25 or 30 at most.
7) Don’t be deceived: Whatever the vendor is saying or even swearing, he is lying. Don’t believe him and don’t be shy to negotiate with him. He is enjoying the game even if he doesn’t show this. Try to enjoy it also.
8) Know the facts: If the vendor tells you that he/she will make only 10$ or 50L.E. from such a thing, know that this amount of money is too much in Egypt. You can buy a falfal (they call it Taaamya in Egypt) sandwich with 2 L.E. (0.5$). 50 L.E. can buy 1KG of Kabab which is the one of the most expensive foods in Egypt.
I was making 700 L.E. in my first job in Egypt as a teaching assistant in the university!!!
9) Show your money: Open your wallet and get the money that you decide to pay out of it. Start counting money in front of the vendor’s eyes. Tell him that I’m serious. I will pay this 20 L.E. now to you. Take it or leave it.
10) Pretend that you are leaving the store: Tell him that you will buy it somewhere else and there are many stores that sell the same thing in cheaper prices. Usually, he will call you while you are leaving and tell you a better price but not your price of course. Show him that you won’t return back unless he accepts the price you want (only 20 L.E., no more). He will say this can’t work and so and so. Tell him “Ok, 25 L.E., last word). Mostly, he will agree and say “Ok, just for you. Don’t tell anyone else”.
You know what? The actual price may be 5 L.E!!!