Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mandarin Mondays: 太贵了(Too expensive)

Meat Market
Both my husband and I recently had Mandarin lessons that covered bartering in the market for fruit, so I thought I'd talk a little bit about bartering here today.

This type of language is really one of the first things that you have to learn here. "How much is this?" (duō shǎo qián?, 多少钱) is one of my most used mandarin phrases, possibly even more than hello, but less than they are not twins.

When shopping in any open air market or relatively small shop, the prices may be negotiable. If the shop keeper gives you a price that is too expensive (tài guìle, 太贵了) you just say so, and they will either give you a counter offer, ask you how much you want to give them for the item, or tell you no this is really cheap. The last means they won't lower the price, and you can take it or leave it.

Often food sellers here won't lower their prices unless you are a Kunming native or have developed a good relationship with a particular seller. So in one nearby market, we often have to ask several people for the price of something like tomatoes, until someone gives us a good deal, or go consistently to the same seller who usually gives us a fair price.

Coming back from buying fruit
But really, we don't really want to spend a lot of time bartering for a few cents off of vegetables anyway, so if we aren't finding good deals that day we'll usually just pay a little bit more or head to Walmart. You don't barter at Walmart, department stores, or KFC in case you're wondering. And yes, it would be weird if you tried to.

Things we do barter for are bigger items like furniture from the used furniture market or a rental prices on apartments. Some people will go down a significant amount on some of these things, and you can actually save real money. And sometimes simply walking away or acting disinterested will make the seller want to lower the price all on their own. This silent method of bartering is one of our favorites, as the seller is lowering the price of their own volition and would never tell you a price that they couldn't still make a profit off of.

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