I grew up in the North, and like most people who have had market related business dealings with Hausa traders know, they offer some of the best (cheat-free) prices. They presumably sell with as small a margin as possible especially when compared with other traders of the same goods. When I eventually moved down south for university, I discovered I had actually been living in a buyer’s paradise. Those women in Alesinloye and Bodija markets were not nice at all. In fact, if you muster the courage to bargain much a lot lower than the stated price, they would make sure choice insults accompany you on your way. I managed to survive because, after all, market visits are essential to survival as a student.
Post wedding, I moved to Lagos; and the first day I went food shopping in Mushin market, I was so afraid to haggle prices because of the looks and tones of voice of the market women. I ended up over paying for items, but was just so glad to leave the environment. It took several visits to that market for me to boldly haggle prices without fear of any repercussions.
Right now, I am back to my more familiar Utako (Abuja) market and therefore in my element. So much so that I actually, sometimes, feel bad after purchases. Not only is my ”customer” (the seller in regular Naija speak) looking morose after the transaction but some guilty pangs also overtake me.
In my search for a good bargain, I might have probably made the ‘aboki‘ sell below his cost price (in my mind). Recently, I bought some fruits; initial price was N500 for 2 pieces. However, unfortunately for him, I met him eating some of his produce. I immediately cautioned him and proceeded to buy said fruit at N500 for 5 pieces with warnings to him to desist from eating off the business then hiking prices to compensate. Nevertheless, there was little satisfaction after this transaction. I felt very remorseful because I might have succeeded in dictating to and cheating my dear “customer” based on the asking price and the actual purchase price. This scenario plays out for me regularly particularly in northern markets I have shopped in around the country.
I believe there is a need to strike a comfortable balance between buyer and seller wherein we part ways in as cordial a manner as possible. I do not end up feeling cheated, and they also have not sold below the cost price.
Furthermore, this could be the reason why large scale low cost supermarkets are fast gaining patronage even from lower income consumers. The margin from open market prices is very little, you do not need to negotiate prices and consequently spend less time shopping.
So, what is proper purchasing etiquette? When do you feel you’ve struck a bargain or gotten to the point of no return financially when purchasing an item? Do you ever feel like you’ve cheated the seller? Or are you the no haggling pricing no wasting time kind of consumer?
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Hongqi Zhang (aka Michael Zhang