The sly, young, conservative woman behind the desk hops up awfully quickly after spotting two young farang (foreigners) slowly approaching her office.
Her guns are locked and loaded. She’s ready to blow us away with a shockingly expensive daily rate for a used and abused motorbike rental on the island of Ko Lanta, Thailand.
As a self-proclaimed, semi-pro haggler, I can see straight through her when looking into her eyes. I immediately sense that she’s on a mission to make a big sale. Coincidentally enough, I’m on a mission to leave this joint on a motorbike for less than 200 baht ($7 USD) per day.
IT’S ON GIRLFRIEND!
As we approach she slides across the floor in her flip flops in order to meet us at the front door of her office.
Motorbike Lady: Sawadee Kaaaaaaaaaa. (Hi/Hello!) You wan’ motorbike?
Me: Yes, how much for one day?
Motorbike Lady: Three hun-ded baht. (300 THB) It’s good price for you. I give you helmet, too.
Me: “300 baht!” I say in a shocked, self-proclaimed, semi-pro hagglers voice.
Motorbike Lady: Yes, this bike good for you. Very cheap.
Me: I pause and glance over at Liz in silence.
Motorbike Lady: Okay, I give you discount!
Me: Okay. How much for three days?
Motorbike Lady: OK, two hun-ded fity baht. (250 THB)
Me: Make it two hundred and we’ve got a deal
Motorbike Lady: No! Price good fo’ you. Not good fo’ me!
Me: I pause as I glance at Liz again. We’re thinking about it. Hard.
Five seconds later…
Motorbike Lady: Okay, two hun-ded baht! (200 THB)
Me: You’ve got yourself a deal.
SECURING THE DEAL
Motorbike lady shuffles back over to her desk waving us to follow her. “You need to sign contract”. Okay, no problem, we reply.
She asks for Liz’s passport to secure the rental. Not only do we rarely carry our passports on us, but we also rarely hand over our passports to anyone unless they are some sort of authority. In other words, there’s no chance we’re exchanging our passport for a motorbike rental.
Me: “No, I’m sorry. We do not have our passports with us”.
Motorbike Lady: Okay, you have license?
Me: Sure. You can make photocopy if you’d like.
Motorbike Lady: Okay, no problem. You bring passport tomorrow.
Me: Okay, no problem.
Truth is, I’m not dropping off any passports the following morning.
THREE DAYS LATER
I return three days later and once again I spot the motorbike lady out of the corner of my eye as I pull up to her shop. She’s shuffling to find her shoes and wanting to beat me to the door.
We meet again.
This time I come prepared with a deal that I know she won’t be able to resist.
Me: Sawadee Krup! (Hi/Hello!)
Motorbike Lady: Sawadee Kaaaaaaaaaaaa.
Me: How much to rent for 7 more days?
Motorbike Lady looks a bit puzzled and seems to have forgotten what she rented the bike to me for in the first place. She replies… “250 baht”.
Me: “250 baht!?” I just rented your bike, yes, the one I’m sitting on in front of your shop right now for 200 baht per day. You’re telling me the price just went up after I requested to extended my rental an extra seven days? If anything the price should go down for a longer rental. No?
Motorbike Lady: Okay two hun-ded baht. (200 THB)
Another five minutes passes and we have yet to strike a deal…
Due to the excessive amount of awkward silence, Motorbike Lady smiles at me and blurts out, “Okay one hun-ded fity baht!” (150 THB).
I peel out of the shop with my sweet little ride for exactly the price I had in mind when I showed up. 150 THB ($5.10 USD) per day for the next week.
Take notes, my friends…
That is how you haggle like a self-proclaimed, semi-pro haggler in Thailand.