I enjoyed my travel in Asia Pacific where bargaining is a way of life in the retail trade. I have a friend who is very good at bargaining. She taught me the strategies for bargaining from the hawkers at Patpong, Thailand for T-shirts or just mementos, to the busy traders along Hong Kong’s Nathan Road for jewellery and more costly trinkets.
I had been eyeing a set of miniature musical instruments which were made of various semi-precious stones to add to my collection of musical miniatures made from all kinds of materials. The price quoted was exorbitant and I was about to make an offer for a 40% discount in my naivety. What I got with my friend’s help was a price 30% of the original price in Bangkok.I could have been taken for a ride if my friend had not accompanied me.
Another trip, we were in Hong Kong and I wanted to purchase a beautiful set of pearl necklace and earrings for my sister as a birthday present. It was not fresh water pearls but natural pearls from the sea. It was lovely. The opening price quoted was very high I thought as I had purchased a similar from Singapore. My friend came to my rescue as she spoke the jeweller’s dialect and after bantering for a while she made one offer on my behalf. When the salesman reduced his price slightly, my friend made a last good offer on my behalf. It was an unbelievable price I got the set of pearls for. It was very good value for money.
Cut-throat bargaining leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. This happens when you are the first customer in an Asian shop. There is a superstition that the first customer’s action augurs the day’s business. If you catch the sale then the day will be fine and not otherwise. So retailers would offer rock bottom prices even at a small loss if they can secure that first sale in the morning. The more bargain savvy crowd would sacrifice sleep on a holiday to secure such cut-throat bargains. Think about it – what you benefit will be at the cost of the next customer.
What I learnt about bargaining was that I should know the value of items I would like to buy before I bargain, or else I would be on the losing end, having paid a premium for them.
So often the enemy of our souls or his henchman attracts us with good-looking attractions. These may be good in themselves. However, when we are tempted to purchase at exorbitant prices we do not have good stewardship of the money or resources in our hands. We need to be mindful – Deuteronomy 8:17-18
The wealth or “abundance”of our lives is a gift, not just a given. That is, no more than with life itself do we have this as something we can earn or deserve. It is not entitlement but blessing in which others are meant to share.
This series shares glimpses in just a few paragraphs on interesting characters I have met along life’s journey of over 65 years and who touched my life. Some bring glory to God and others to themselves.