Negotiation tactics in India

1. Negotiate in numbers other than multiples of 5 or 10. This throws the other party completely off kilter, since they are used to rich tourists who they can fleece for an extra 10/20/50/100 rupees. (A rupee is c. 1.3 pence). Example:

You: “How much taxi to Cochin?”
Him: “50 rupee”
You: “22”
Him: [flummoxed] “Huh?”
You: “OK, 23″
Him: [still flummoxed]” “OK OK”

Job done.

2. Use the Indian head wobble right back at him. This is bold and audacious, and usually works. It requires a certain degree of patience and absolute silence, and relies on the other party feeling extreme guilt for trying to fleece you. Example:

You: “How much taxi to Cochin?”
Him: “50 rupee”
You: [Silence for up to 5 seconds. Hold his eye. Then gently wobble head. This signifies a silent "Do you think I was born yesterday?"]
Him: “OK, 30 rupee”
You: [repeat as above]
Him: “OK OK 20 rupee”

Job done.

3. Use of “-bhai” as a last resort. The suffix “-bhai” is a term of deep respect meaning elder brother. This tactic uses flattery to wrong-foot the other party, and is the most under-hand of the three, and is normally reserved for the most battle-hardened negotiators. It is also best used if the driver has a name badge that you can append “-bhai” to. It should not be over-used. Example:

You: “How much taxi to Cochin?”
Him: “50 rupee”
You: “20 rupee”
Him “[with determined glare] “FIFTY rupee”
You: “22 rupee”
Him: [dug in, arms folded] “FIF. TEE.”
You: “25 rupee, Arvindbhai?”
Him: “OK, 30 rupee”

Job done, though you will notice not quite so effective.

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Filed under 'mind the gap' journey 08-09, All posts, India '08-'09, South India

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