Haggling for Suitcases

Shanghai Travel Blog

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Buildings in Puxi (near our hotel)

People who made my travels more enjoyable: Michelle (USA)

In 2007 I bought a Samsonite suitecase from Ebay. I was ignorant back then. I thought when you bought name brand things on Ebay, they were actually name brand. When a broken cardboard box arrived at my office with Chinese writing, I knew that I had bought a knockoff. Still, the price was not bad and the suitcase looked nice, so I decided not to return it.

Fastforward three years. I'm in China and said suitcase has returned home. But as I go to lift the bag onto the train a handle snaps. Damn! I reach for the other handle and try to lift... Snap. Ok, now I don't have a suitcase, I have a box. Boxes are nice when you want to move, but they are not particularly useful when traveling.

July 23rd, 2010. I finally have no set plans, but I do need a suitcase. And here I am, in China.

Bottle cap opener
The country that spawned an entire industry of knockoffs. A country where intellectual property is valued similarly to the paper a patent is written on.

Anyway, I digress. On that day, July 23rd, 2010, Michelle graciously took me to an underground shopping mall that is full of knockoff suitcases and bags. Now I'm from the US, which means I'm a total amateur when it comes to haggling. We don't haggle for anything. You either pay what's on the price tag, or you don't buy the item. In order to help, Michelle tried to lay out some ground rules for me.

1. Don't show interest in the item you want. How in the world is one supposed to buy something without showing interest? Well apparently if you let anyone know you really like something, they'll jack up the price.

Apartments in Puxi

2. If you make a verbal deal, don't change your mind... I'll explain this one later.

3. Be prepared to walk away from anything, even if you really want the item in question.

4. Don't take anything personal. It's entirely possible that the clerk might be screaming at you before a transaction is completed.

Michelle and I enter one shop and the first thing I do is go up to a Tumi bag. "Oh I like this one", I say to Michelle in English. Two clerks rush over. Michelle grabs me by the arm and we leave the shop. I broke rule #1.

We enter the next shop. I casually walk around and take a look at a few suitcases.

Very modern buildings
A Victorinox bag catches my eye. "How much for this bag?" I casually ask the clerk. She quotes me a price of roughly $600 USD. I look at her and laugh. I look at a Tumi and ask the same, to which she replies, $700. I respond "it's a fake tumi bag!", she replies in English "Ya, well it's still really good". I figured with my amateur haggling I couldn't talk her down to my target price of $100. So we moved on to store number three.

In store three we reached a deal with the clerk over a bag, but I felt like she was being too pushy. I did not like the situation, and even though I had said I would pay $100 USD for a bag I decided to leave. The woman then lowered the price to $80 USD. I told her in English "Look, you could give me the bag for $10 USD and I still don't want it". Here is when I broke rule number 2.

Duck King!
The woman grabbed me by the arm and physically would not let go of me. I look at Michelle, mortified and desperate I called for help. Now try and imagine this sight. A 6'1" laowai is being held hostage by a Chinese clerk. Next thing you know, a 4'11" asian girl (Michelle) rushes up with her fist cocked back like she's ready to punch the clerk in the face. The clerk backs down immediately and Michelle looks at me sternly, "Don't break the rules"... Shit was getting real!

Finally we came across a store that had two Tumi suitcases that I thought were reasonable. Michelle also found a pair of Langchamp bags that she wanted. We spent nearly 20 minutes arguing with the clerks over the price. One of them was nearly in tears, but Michelle wanted an even lower price. We started walking away from the store and after a minute the other clerk chased us down and agreed to our terms.

Love their outfits, although I can't imagine the shoes are very comfortable.
I felt like these ladies had split personalities because a minute ago they were screaming at us and now we were all best friends. I've never seen anything like it.

Haggling for suitcases was traumatic! I do not recommend it unless you get a thrill from trying to get the best deal possible. Granted, I got two great "Tumi" suitcases for less than $200 USD, but it was the most stressful shopping experience of my life.

After we successfully purchased our luggage, Michelle and I returned to Duck King for another glorious meal. To round out the night we watched a tragic movie at the theater about a devastating earthquake that struck China in the 1970's.

Update: 3 years later and the suitcases are still going strong! Maybe it was worth it after all.

 

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Buildings in Puxi (near our hotel)
Buildings in Puxi (near our hotel)
Bottle cap opener
Bottle cap opener
Apartments in Puxi
Apartments in Puxi
Very modern buildings
Very modern buildings
Duck King!
Duck King!
Love their outfits, although I can…
Love their outfits, although I ca…
Shanghai
photo by: Chokk