Haggling for Suitcases
Shanghai Travel Blog› entry 23 of 25 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.