Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Gringo Price

I think anyone who travels is familiar with the term “tourist price”, or as it’s known here in Peru, the gringo price. Here’s how it works in Chiclayo. Just as in the States, the shopping malls have prices on the items and the amount you pay is not negotiable. In the small businesses in Chiclayo it is rare to have price labels on products, and negotiation is the rule.

As an example, I was tired of the center piece on our dining room table so last Wednesday we went out looking for something else. At a shop we had made purchases at in the past we spotted the collection in the photo. We continued to look around the store but I kept returning to these items, thereby breaking negotiating rule number one by showing too much interest. Repeated glances at me from Maribel confirmed my blunder. If you’re a gringo there are no other rules. The formula is (interest + gringo = mucho dinero). When Maribel, after trying to salvage the situation by looking at everything else under the sun finally asked the price, the woman replied “Only 130 soles ($45.61) but for you 120 ($42.11)”. When Maribel countered with 100 soles ($35.09) the woman stood firm. At this point you have only two options; either pay the price or play the “I’m walking away” card. We started walking, and to my surprise the woman let us go. Usually some token price reduction results from the walk-away tactic, but not this time.

I really liked that center piece collection, and Maribel, who takes it personal when not successful in the negotiating game, liked it as well. Which is why the following day she described the items to her sister Teresa, gave her 100 soles, and waited outside the store. After 10 minutes Teresa emerged carrying our items. This is what happened in the shop. When Teresa asked the price, the woman said 100 soles. Teresa countered with 80 ($28.07). The woman responded with 90. Teresa played the walk-away card. The woman caved in to 80.

For the gringo the price was firm at $42.11. For the Peruvian the cost was $28.07. I would have paid $35.09, so the woman screwed herself out of $7.02. I’m tempted to return to the shop today. I’m sure the woman would find a way to casually tell me the collection had been sold. My response would be…“Yes, I know. It looks beautiful on our table, and for only 80 soles!” But that would be petty of me, wouldn’t it?

I’ll talk with you later – I’ve got an errand to run.


Edit: Monday, November 2 – For the past few days I’ve been tempted to delete this entry, but in the interest of fair play I’ve got to take my lumps. Last week we saw the collection pictured above in the mercado modelo for 55 soles. The woman who sold it to Maribel’s sister for 80 soles still made a healthy profit of at least 25 soles. I am very glad I didn’t go back to that shop to gloat.

1 comment:

  1. hehe - you must do a follow up, preferably with a picture of her face when you tell her? :D