How to Bargain


    The other day my word-processor broke down again because of the fluctuating electric current. I requested the same service engineer as before to come to my house to fix it. Later I saw a familiar face at my door. This time we had more conversation during his work. When he had finished the job, to my         bajaj

surprise he asked me how much the service charge had been for his last visit. It seemed to be the same problem as before. I answered Rp.50,000, showing him the receipt he had given me. He asked again, "Is it expensive?" "I don't know," I said, purplexed at his question, and after some thought I asked "What if I say it's expensive? Can you lower the charge?" Eventually he charged me Rp.40,000.

     I'd never expected that this kind of service could be bargained over, although there are many places where prices are not fixed and we can negotiate, especially at local markets. I've tried several times and enjoyed the experience of bargaining. I've felt very happy when I've been successful and have felt frustrated when I've failed.

    There's a very Indonesian vehicle called  'bajaj', a three-wheeled short-distance taxi, whose fares are negotiated between driver and passenger. The ride is uncomfortable but it's fun, although some Japanese don't think it's fun at all and never ride in a bajaj. It took almost eight months to gather up my courage for  my first ride. But once I tried, the second time was much easier and I was a more persistent bargainer.

    My Indonesian friend who once had a long negotiation with a bajaj driver until finally he was satisfied with the fare, found the young driver working his way through school. Being touched by his story during her ride, she gave him a tip as well as the negotiated fare when she got out. Her long tenacious bargaining had resulted in nothing, she said laughing.

    Anyway, after my trials and errors, I think I know more about bargaining. The first thing to do is to check a price at supermarkets or department stores where prices are fixed, in order not to be forced to pay an unreasonable price and the second is to assume a strong attitude toward the shopkeeper. The last measure is to leave a shop or pretend to do so when the negotiations are broken off, so that the shopkeeper will call out "OK" or lower his last price. This final way does work.


#58 Parkway Vol.7 No.1 October 1993















 翌日、その修理の人がやってきました。「これ、壊れる、できる?、直す」私は、単語を並べ、汗をかきかき、さらに説明します。しばらくして、修理が完了したようです。「ブラパ(How much)?」と私。
「Do you want to pay by cash or card?」