Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Is It OK to Over Pay?

Jerusalem Bazaar Store

We are on family vacation to Israel where my brother got married last week. Yesterday we took the kids to visit the old city of Jerusalem (one of the most beautiful places on earth, in my opinion). During a walk through the amazingly colorful bazaar, we told the kids they could each pick a small present as a keepsake from our trip. Our oldest picked a wooden necklace, and I asked the store keeper for the price, which he told me was 20 NIS (about $5). I gave him the money and thanked him.

I think that my behavior came as a shock to the store keeper. If you've ever seen the movie Life of Brian, where in one scene a shopkeeper basically forces his customer to negotiate the price ("you've got to haggle"), our shopkeeper had a similar look on his face.

I probably overpaid for the necklace by 40% to 50%. Usually at these places you have to go through a whole process where you loudly complain about the price, start to walk away, give your best and final offer, and so forth. The fact that I just took money out of my wallet and paid the man his asking price is almost scandalous and  I have no doubt my mom would have given me an earful if I had told her the story. In fact, I bet the store keeper was disappointed he did not ask for twice his original price. But here's my thing - I came out with my kids to enjoy a day in old Jerusalem. Should I really waste the precious few hours we have there by haggling with a store keeper for a savings of $2 or so? I don't think so. This way the store keeper is happy. I am out 2 bucks, and I got an extra 15 minutes to enjoy this ancient and gorgeous city.

What do you think? Am I a sucker? Is it OK to knowingly be a sucker in these cases?

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1 comment:

Money Beagle said...

Well, if they are expecting it with every transaction, I can see where it would provide a shock to them when haggling doesn't happen. Flip it around and think of someone going to the grocery store, having the cashier tell them it's $70 and the customer starts trying to haggle it down to $45. I'm sure the cashier and other customers would express the same sense of disbelief simply because it's not what is normally done.