The Shanghai Bargain [Part 1]

While I fancy myself a rather savvy individual when it comes to travel, I have to admit that I have not done all that much bargaining in my life. It’s not as much of a part of American or European cultures as it is in other parts of the world because it typically isn’t as much of a necessity as it is for others around the world. But now I’m in Shanghai where the counterfeit runs deep and the scams are a plenty. If you’re paying full price, or even half price, you’re probably getting screwed.

My first experience was not horrible, but it still left a taste in my mouth that I didn’t care for. We were at the City God Temple with the ECNU school group when all of a sudden we had a little time to kill. It was by far the hottest and most humid day of the trip that paired up with our first real introduction to smog. It finally rained, I danced, and then I was in the mood for shades. I had forgotten my real ray bans back home, so naturally there was a void I needed to fill.

I wander outside the temple area and find a vendor, one of hundreds, along the street with sunglasses up front. I head in, test the English skills of the owner, and point to what I want: White Wayfarer Ray Bans. Now obviously they are fake, I honestly don’t think you can even buy authentic ones in China, but that’s really not my biggest concern. I ask how much.

Most vendors like this aren’t fantastic at English, and I wouldn’t expect them to be because my Chinese hasn’t even started yet. What they do is pull out a big calculator and type in the numbers. This also ensures that they can still get the highest prices out of the other customers. He starts me off at 600 RMB. Big surprise, but that’s about $90 USD. I counter with 40, but that’s actually what I wanted to pay. First mistake.

We go back and forth, both enjoying the whole game of it all, until we get to the 100 RMB final offer from me. Now I first thought that he was really considering not taking the deal. There was struggle on his face, a contemplative air about him. In reality this is just a tactic to keep me feeling as if I were the one who made the right deal. He agrees, and I check my pocket for the cash.

Uh oh! Haha I didn’t get pick pocketed, but all I had left was 80 (ignoring the 200 in my bag). I explained that’s all I had, we re-shook, and they were mine for 80 RMB. That’s roughly $11 for an above 7-11 quality pair of shades. I was happy until I heard that other parts of town would go down to 40 or even 35. Would they be the same quality as my relatively nice fake shades? Who knows, but I was going to need to make up for my mistake.

  1. scottstephensmith posted this