"Pay whatever you like"

#16 Aug 14th, 2007, 10:47
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Aug 2005
New Zealand
  • BabeInTheWoods is offline
My partner has a nice answer to this. He just says "I would like to pay the smallest price possible" and he gets a grin out of the tout/shopkeeper and they start getting down to prices. Everybody gets out alive and smiling.
#17 Aug 14th, 2007, 11:17
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Mar 2006
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  • karthik_mitta is offline
LOL.. good thread!

Yes, it does happen with plumbers, electritians, carpenters et el when they come home to fix up and the work isnt too much (mostly its daily labor).. they kind of end up saying "you know.. i have lost my days wage.. you decide" line of asking.

Never had this problem with Taxi's.. not even in Jaipur.. they always asked... and asked for attrocious amounts!!

In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds - Martin Luther King Jr.
#18 Aug 14th, 2007, 13:40
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Chennai, India
  • Nick-H is offline
Chennai auto drivers are fond of using this one on foreigners.

Their relationship with locals is such that they wouldn't dare! People would say OK... and give 25 paise (smallest coin) just to make up for the many times they'd been overcharged.

Actually, I had a couple of regular drivers who knew I knew the going rates: I used to just get in, give money at the other end and say, "ok?". Nine times out of ten it was.

Taxis and cars: always by the rate. So much per hour/km; package of so many hours including so many km; or an agreed all-in price for a tour if it so many days. There is little room for haggling on this when getting the service from a travels company. Of course, if someone has introduced you to their self-employed uncle, then the field is wide open!
Life gets aadhar every day.
#19 Aug 14th, 2007, 16:17
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Bandra & Docklands
  • Mykey is offline
In some(few)expensive restaurants in the UK only the host has a priced menu, the guests have unpriced menus.
#20 Aug 14th, 2007, 16:28
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  • tony is offline

I think we are all saying the same thing - that the expression "pay whatever you like" is an excellent negotiation tactic.

Machadinha expressed it as:

"a first rule is having you name your price first leaves you at the weaker end; you should be responding to what they come up with, not vice versa."

The subtley of the expression "pay whatever you like" puts the onus on the buyer to respond with an initial price, particularly in this context when the service has already been obtained.

The expression is not meant to taken literally !!

Equally, the expression would not be as effective in situations prior to obtaining goods or services.

Many thanks to the other respondees for confirming what is quite a sophisticated negotiation tactic (albeit no offence intended to India since it it is used used effectively in other countries).

I was merely highlighting a good technique which I had been forwarned.



PS I may have over dramatised the tactic by reference to the word "violence".

I don't think that would happen in the majority of circumstances.

I should have said "histronics", arising from the low ball response. No offence intended.
#21 Aug 14th, 2007, 21:15
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Sep 2003
Where you live
  • trvl_in is offline
"Pay whatever you like" can be an OK offer provided that you know, for sure, what the rate / price should be, and provided that you are absolutely confident that you'll be able to quickly cut off any attempt to hold you back or manipulate when payment time comes.

Despite the cynicism of some posters, the "pay what you like" trope is often meant as an honourable gesture. Even though you will, on average, tend to pay at least a bit more on the honour system, isn't that the way of the world? And isn't it often worth it, up to a point, and within reason?

Your instincts should guide you as to whether you are being treated as an honoured guest or as a sucker. If he seems sneaky and manipulative he probably is, and if he seems forthright and honourable, likewise.

And always, caveat emptor.
#22 Aug 14th, 2007, 21:31
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Oct 2004
you essay
  • ananda2193 is offline
Years ago was in Pulau Banyak, Indonesia (some awesome islands off the coast of Sumatra, and where the epicenter of the big earthquake and tidal wave started 2 years ago). We had our own private tropical paradise island living like Robinson Carusoe. Every 3-4 days someone would bring food that we asked for. Paradise except for the mosquitos. Could only handle 2 weeks because of them, but he told us "pay what you want" and we ended up paying just $5 u.s. a day and he was happy.
#23 Aug 15th, 2007, 01:04
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Apr 2006
  • Lugubert is offline
What about "what do your customers usually pay?"

That will force them to either quote an unreasonable amount, to which you just walk away, or you get a normal starting point.

One "guide" approached me outside a Delhi gurdwara, offering to drive me around and show me the most important gurdwaras, using this ploy. He should have been forewarned, because he couldn't explain a few questions on Sikh ritual that I started with.

Anyhow, he drove me in his car to some sites, not offering too much of explanations, and then for lunch chose a place with several nice but unnecessary costly places (to which I had been brought another time by a tout...) I looked around, and told hm that I wanted a more affordable place. He found a dhaba-lika place not too far from Connaught Place. I told him I wanted something better than a dhaba but not luxurious.

He started arguing, and so I said, enough for now, and paid him rather close to half of what he had told me other pay. He went into my having spoiled his day by employing him for just half of it etc etc. I reminded him of what he had said, and started walking towards CP. He followed me, and went on arguing. I rather shouted at him, loud enough for any bystanders to hear, that I had paid according to his offer what I thought it was worth. I walked away again, in directions and through lanes that he couldn't follow. End of story.
#24 Aug 15th, 2007, 02:55
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Aug 2005
  • anar is offline
never do what i once did (out of sheer ignorance of the 'rules' of the game) - in a bazaar in bangalore, i said to the seller 'oh, i've seen it being sold for less elsewhere'. he went berserk, demanded i take him to where it was being sold for less, a crowd gathered, 'you foreigners this, you foreigners that', he shouted. if another shopkeeper hadn't come to our aid, i don't know what the outcome of that one would have been! scary mary! leave all bargaining to the experts i say!
#25 Aug 15th, 2007, 11:06
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Oct 2004
Chennai, India
  • Nick-H is offline
That's just bringing bullying into the bargaining.

I often have seen it for less, and say so.

But then, quite often the suggestion is to buy it there then --- so I do
#26 Aug 15th, 2007, 11:43
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Jan 2005
  • machadinha is offline
Hm. There's one memory that always stuck with me:

Having been around for a bit and having checked on prices here and there all over India, I saw some nice bedsheets offered by a Kolkata street vendor. So I told him the usual blah I've seen them cheaper somewhere else (truthfully) and this and that, and he protested But that's what I bought them for! & something of a crowd gathered with everyone chipping in with their personal take on it, until I finally and satisfiedly walked off with my wares and for a decent price I thought.

Only much, much later and after other experiences did it dawn on me that a question of locality and, not unimportantly, actual quality of those wares may well have come into play -- and I may actually have driven this man to accept an unacceptable price simply because he needed the money then and there, no matter what his expenses.

I still get sick at the thought & am not proud at the memory; and while I liked being called a "ruthless bargainer" and took it in pride thinking I was probably still paying triple the price, you really can overdo it. I won't a next time, I promise (you get tough after a few months of seemingly everyone wanting something out of you though, it's true).

In the above case we're talking about just a few hundred Rupees mind, but I'll bet they were more important to him than they were to me no matter how low my budget.
#27 Aug 15th, 2007, 11:57
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  • robotvoice is offline
If you want to shock them, you can ask, "Well, why don't you tell me how much you payed for it so I will know what is fair."
#28 Aug 15th, 2007, 16:04
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Aug 2005
  • anar is offline
i think bargaining can reach disproportionate levels at times. without mentioning nationalities, i have seen people haggling with poor (they are poor relatively speaking, this is indisputable) chaishop owners over 50 paise, with internet cafe wallas over five rupees and with small hotel owners over fifty rupees (and i mean really coming to blows over these amounts)! such behaviour is odious anywhere, full stop.
#29 Aug 18th, 2007, 17:26
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Aug 2005
The Netherlands
  • dhans is offline

The mirror technique

Use a script (which also helpd with unwanted calls around dinnertime) and take over the conversation. E.g.


What is your name

Advil and whatsyourname

Well, Advil, that's an interesting name, where does it come from.

Advil comes from <name of obscure god>

And what is that god known for



Tips for trips to India with (young) children: India with kids
Our travel blog (mostly in Dutch): Reisfamilie
#30 Aug 18th, 2007, 17:46
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Aug 2006
Bristol, England
  • blackbird is offline
Originally Posted by trvl_in View Post Despite the cynicism of some posters, the "pay what you like" trope is often meant as an honourable gesture. Even though you will, on average, tend to pay at least a bit more on the honour system, isn't that the way of the world? And isn't it often worth it, up to a point, and within reason?
I haven't been invited to pay "as you wish" many times, but I agree that it doesn't necessarily mean they want a stupid inflated price.

To those who have become cynical at all the ripoff merchants, please remember that one day you may find yourself buying goods or services off someone who isn't a hardened tourist leech.... in out of the way places a little extra can make a massive difference to someone's day. It's not just about the money, to the receiver getting an extra Rs10 off a rich foreigner can feel like a blessing from God. I'm not exaggerating.

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