The Art of Haggling: How to Grab Goods at a Local Price

goods at goree 1

One thing that caught me off-guard when I arrived in Senegal was the concept of haggling. Unlike in the United States, where most goods and services are sold at a fixed price, buying services and products in Senegal could be tricky.

*Note: these rules do not apply to established institutions (i.e. Auchan, hotels, restaurants, and gas stations) and long-distance car services – better known as “sept-places”.

 

Game Plan 

Before I even rode my first taxi trip or walked through the bustling produce markets, I was instructed to follow these steps to ensure I was getting the best price:

  • Acquire some basic knowledge of the Wolof language as buyers typically raise the local prices to those who aren’t locals and don’t understand the language.

Some examples include:

  • “Woñiko” means “lower the price”
  • “le Prix da fa bari” means “the price is a lot”
  • Know how to say numbers such as the denominations of 100s in French
  • “Baaxna” means  “good”
fish market @ Saint Louis
  • Learn how to firmly say no and don’t be intrigued by the first price vendors present to you. Despite how much they call you their “friend” or “son/daughter,” they want to continue their business. There’s no shame in walking away if you truly aren’t interested. In the case you’re still interested in a particular good being sold or want to catch a taxi ride, some vendors will start the bargaining process at double the local price.
    • To prevent this from happening, make sure you follow your ABCs:
      • Ask a local beforehand for the taxi fare from location A to destination B or the price of a certain good you want
      • Be determined and act as if you’re a local – the more you act nervous or uncertain, the more likely they are to charge you a higher price
      • Counter offers with prices that are a quarter of their original asking price and steadily increase your asking amount until a compromise has been met.
  • If you ever need help with any assistance, try to find someone who knows English or call your Airbnb/hotel service. They are more than welcome to help you and make negotiations through the phone.

Good luck and happy bargaining!

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