4)haggle with an asian vendor - AND WIN!
The annoying thing about shopping in HK or Asia in general (aside from major shopping malls/centers) is that prices usually aren't set. There is this "performance" and "role playing" that goes a little something like this:
Buyer: How much is this?"
Asian Vendor: $200 dolla
Buyer: No way, Tai Gui le! (too expensive in Chinese) *puts it down*
Asian Vendor: no tai gui le, I give you good price my friend. How muchy you want it? $150?
Asian Vendor: no, i make no money
Buyer then leaves
Asian Vendor: *chases after* ok la! for you, ok la!
Fun at first but quite frustrating when you don't have time and you really don't know if you are getting ripped off. Just because they state a high price and you bargained it down 50% doesn't mean you got a good deal. You can't use their outrageous price as a reference point.
However, I lost my camera (poor, reliable, Olympus, you have been good to me for 4 years) last week and did not want to go through my last 2 weeks without taking pictures. So I did a little research online and decided I wanted the Canon IXUS 120IS or Canon Powershot 940IS in the U.S. After much practice at Ladie's Market, Philippines, China... I developed my own strategy of haggling. As I got ready today...
Make-up - check. Cute earrings - check. Puppy dog face - check. As I approached my destination I gave myself an internal monologe... "ok, Erica. You won't back down. You're gonna get a good price" I walked into Citicall and pointed to the exact camera that I wanted plus the older model as comparison.
Starting price: $2380 HKD / $307 USD
Erica: I lost my camera last week and I really would like to buy that one
Citicall worker: You pay by cashy or card?
Erica: cash and I'll pay it off today
Citicall worker: That's the final price la, it's the listed price
Erica: *pulls out notes* in the U.S. I saw it online for only $260. Why is it so expensive in HK, surely you can give me a better price?
Citicall worker: But this is new model but I can give you for $2280 ($294 USD).
Erica: But that is still $34 more than the U.S. can you make it worth it for me?
Citicall worker to co-worker: (in chinese) so troublesome, come help me
Citicall worker 2: *sterns* $2280 is the ABSOLUTE last price, cannot give you lower make no money, if you want cheaper go up one floor to illegal shop who give you no warranty or go back to the U.S and get it
Erica: *puppy dog eyes* But I want to buy it from youuuuuu. you want to sell a camera, I want to buy one. Please give me a better deal and I will be much happier.
Citicall worker 2: $2280 is good price. $100 discount already. I will give you gift la. memory card, case, and a mug. This canon is made in Japan, much better than the U.S canon.
Erica: please! I study marketing, country of origin is not important at all in regard to function. please just a little bit cheaper, make me a bit happier?
Citicall worker 2: ok final price $2250 ($290 USD) and you get free gift ok la?
So in the end I paid $290 USD for the camera.
Received in addition:
4GB transcend memory card: $10 USD
Canon Camera Case: $10 USD
Spare Battery: $10 USD
Mini tripod: $15 USD
Screen Protector: ?
In total, the goodies evened out the $30 difference between the U.S. and HK price, I get to use a new camera for 2 weeks, and confuse people when they see I have an "IXUS" instead of a "Powershot"
New Camera + goodies: $290 USD
Sense of Acheivement: Priceless :)