Cutting a Bargain: How to Haggle
There’s a shop in every corner of Neopia, an item to fill every need, and a shopkeeper for every occasion. This vast assortment of shops provides just about everything that a customer could possibly want. But wouldn’t it be great if things could just cost less?
Here is where haggling comes into play. For casual buyers and bargain hunters alike, the most strategic and exciting feature of Neopian stores is the opportunity to haggle with the shopkeeper. With practice and experience, anyone can turn the asking price of an item into a great deal. If you would like to shave off upwards of 20 to 25 percent on your next purchase, please read on!
Firstly, be aware that prices are non-negotiable in the Marketplace, Hidden Tower, Golden Dubloon, Igloo Garage Sale, and the like. This means that haggling only applies to shops that restock on a fixed basis, such as Kauvara’s Magic Shop, Tiki Tack, and Sutek’s Scrolls. But don’t worry, these shops can be found everywhere – at least twenty can be found in and around Neopia Central alone!
Each time you click an item in this type of shop, you will be taken to a page to type in your best offer and compare it with the asking price. Many inexperienced shoppers hastily match the asking price the shopkeepers have set. In doing so, they give away hundreds of extra Neopoints they could have easily saved!
On the other hand, a savvy haggler knows that the store owner sets a high price to be flexible enough to negotiate with the buyer. This is a very important thing to understand: shopkeepers expect their shoppers to haggle with them. Granted, they may get annoyed enough to kick you out of the shop for bargaining too much, but for the most part, shop owners are happy to sell you their products for a reduced price.
Here’s how effective haggling works. Click an item that you want to purchase, making sure that you have about enough Neopoints to buy it. Now, make an offer anywhere from one-half to three-fourths of the asking price. For instance, if a particular item sells for 2390 NP, anywhere from 1200 – 1800 NP is a good first bet. There is no hope in setting a ridiculously low offer like 300 NP, because the owner will not budge far from the asking price. Likewise, a really high offer like 2300 NP also leaves much to be desired; the seller will accept your offer and you’ll have saved a paltry 90 Neopoints.
Experiment with your starting offer, and use whatever seems to sway the shopkeeper the most. Click the pet on the image to proceed to the next page. If the shopkeeper declares, “I accept your offer of 1800 Neopoints!” then you’ve effectively purchased the item at a 25 percent discount! Most likely, however, you’ll be taken to a second round of haggling, in which the shopkeeper’s asking price will have dropped significantly.
It is now time to reach a compromise. Slowly back off from your low offer, and the shopkeeper will back off from his or her high offer. Keep in mind that the more you budge, the more likely the shopkeeper is to accept your offer, but at the same time, the higher price you will have to pay for the item. However, if you insist upon your low offer, the shopkeeper will keep the previous asking price, or even raise the price higher!
A helpful suggestion would be to increase your offer halfway to the seller’s price. If your first offer was 500 and the shopkeeper’s current offer is 700, bid 600 and you will likely get the item. If an agreement isn’t reached, you’ll be taken to the next round of haggling, where you can repeat the process and zone in on a happy medium.
There are several important tendencies of shopkeepers to keep in mind. In general, store owners will give you a couple of bargain prices at first, but their offers may go up as you try to buy more from them. I once bought three Ketchup and Mustard Hot Dogs in a row from Hubert’s Hot Dogs at 800 Neopoints each, a nice discount from the asking price of 1097. As I haggled for my fourth item, however, Hubert wasn’t satisfied with 800 Neopoints anymore. Try as I might, the best offer I got was 972 – perhaps an indication to move on to another shop and come back later.
Also, shopkeepers can get really annoyed in two ways: too much haggling or not enough money. If you offer a price on an item but don’t have the Neopoints, the shop owner will get angry and kick you out. If you persistently offer 1 NP every round, the owner will become increasingly annoyed after about five turns. At about round 9 of fruitless haggling, either the item will inevitably sell out, or the shopkeeper will call the guards and have you escorted away.
Don’t be concerned! Most shopkeepers have bad memories and don’t hold grudges. Even if you do get booted from a shop by an angry shopkeeper, just come back later and you’ll be treated like any other customer. That’s a good thing, because now you can get back to haggling!
As you start haggling on your own, there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, it’s in your best interest to haggle over a more expensive item as opposed to a cheap one. You can negotiate over a Bitten Red Apple all you want, but in the end it’s only going to save you a mere handful of Neopoints. On the contrary, big-ticket items, such as Battledome weapons and Petpets, can be haggled for much greater savings.
Secondly, the more rounds of effective haggling you go through, the better deal you will get. With practice, you can get an item listed at 1000 NP down to 700 NP in three or four rounds, but if 700 Neopoints is your starting offer, you most likely won’t get the item. Be wary, however, that the more rounds you negotiate, the more time you spend. This means that the item may sell out while you’re cutting a bargain, along with the other items that you may have wanted. It may be wise to keep your haggling down to one or two rounds, especially during peak shop hours when things are selling fast.
Sometimes, a rare or popular item sells out too quickly for you to get the bargain price through several rounds of haggling. If you come across such an item, like a Negg in the food shop, the most important thing is that you are quick to purchase it before other shoppers do. In these cases, it’s in your best interest to make just one offer, hopefully getting the item in one fell swoop.
My best advice is to quickly type in an offer price with the numbers close together. For example, if the asking price is 1284 Neopoints, make an offer of 1212, 1222, or 1111, because it is simply quicker and easier for you to type. Don’t get greedy and type in 1000, since the “0” key is very far from the “1” key, costing you valuable time and adding unnecessary risk. Also, don’t think too much about the price you set, as long as it’s within a reasonable range of the asking price. Hopefully, the rare item will be yours, and you’ll have saved a couple Neopoints in the process.
Haggling is not a science; it’s an art. It has been around since the days of trade and barter and continues today in Neopian shops and markets everywhere. But just like any other form of art, haggling isn’t a perfect algorithm that works every time, and there is no optimum bargain to be won. It won’t make you rich or lead you to the high life. But cutting a sweet deal and leaving with hundreds – even thousands – in extra cash?
Boy, does that feel good.