Monday, December 05, 2005

Buy Good Stuff Cheap (C-20)

I've already whined enough about the cold here, and well, it finally got to me. The coat I came to Harbin with just doesn't cut it anymore, largely because I can not close it all the way up to my neck to keep me warm as the wind howls down upon me. So today I went to get some proper sub-arctic outerwear.

I could have bought an extremely warm parka for roughly 100RMB, but I wanted something that wasn't ugly as sin or simply ridiculous looking. Being a fan of North Face jackets since they became cool in high school, I headed to the foreign "import" (read: fell of a truck) street. I quickly found a jacket I liked that would supply the protection I needed, and then the bargaining began.

"How much for this jacket?" said I, in Chinese, to the store clerk.
"That jacket? 760 RMB."
"You're crazy! I was here with my friend last Monday and he bought a similar jacket from the same company much much cheaper than that!"
"Well, how much did your friend pay?"

Never tell a clerk what someone else might have paid in China, because if its higher than their low-end, they'll never let you bargain down. Trust me on this one.

"He didn't pay 760RMB. Give it to me cheaper."
"Ok ok. How much do you want to pay?" She wasn't going to make the first move.

My friend paid 360RMB for his, I figured I should try and undercut that by about a hundred to end up at a fair price.


At this point she had to go and ask her boss if my price was cool or not. This is usually a very good sign that you're actually near the fair price, or at least the lowest that the underling store clerk is allowed to go without an OK from management. She returned and simply said:

"Ok. 220RMB. Good?"

I wasn't quite sure how that worked out, but I got out-bargained BY THE STORE I WAS BARGAINING WITH. I didn't argue though. And now I have a rather warm North Face jacket that only cost me 220RMB (about US$25). Hooray for me.


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