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Culture —– The fun of “el regateo”

by Brandi

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November 26th, 2010

The Spanish culture has a wonderful system of shopping that I think everyone should have a chance to experience. It is called “regateo” [reh-gaw-tay-oh] or translated in English to “bargaining”. Not only is “regateo” fun to do, but it also earns you a cheaper price, and is actually expected as part of their culture. You can bargain at any small shop or market, but at larger grocery stores or department stores bargaining is not done.

One of my favorite things in the world to do is to go into a small shop or open-air market and try to bargain with the people for a lower price. It is a blast!

Let me give you an example of my own personal technique. Feel free to use some or all of these phrases the next time you are shopping in Mexico or Latin America.

Ok, let’s say that I wanted to purchase a new watch.

First I would start out by asking, “¿A cuánto está?” [ah quan-toe ess-taw?] (How much is it?) or “¿Cuánto cuesta?” [quan-toe cwes-taw] (How much does it cost?)

Sometimes, just because I am a gringo (foreigner) they will give me some ridiculously high price. If they do, I would say in a playful tone, “¡Soy gringo, pero no soy tonto!” [Soy green-go peh-row no soy tone-toe] (I’m a gringo but I’m not a fool). Then I immediately start walking towards the door as if to leave. Then they would then usually say “wait”, “wait”, “wait”, and proceed to give me a lower price (they know that “gringos” usually aren’t poor).

With this new lower price, I will look at the clerk as if he is insane and say “¡Demasiado, Ni hablar!” [deh-mas-ee(ah)-though knee aw-blar] (Too much, no way!). Then I say “¿Cuál es el precio de verdad?” [kwal es el preh-see(oh) de bear-thath] (What is the real price?).

Then they will give me a price that’s a little lower and there will be a series of me saying “Too much!” (¡Demasiado!) and him lowering the price three or four times.

Finally when I see he has gone down in price quite a bit, I will look directly at him and say “Usted cobra demasiado, lo siento.” [oo-stead co-braw deh-mas-ee(ah)-though, low see(en) toe] which means, “You charge too much, I’m sorry”. Then I will start to leave again and the clerk will usually give me the final offer to keep me in the store. I usually accept this final offer.

To me, the most fun part of bargaining is seeing how low I can get the clerk to go. After doing it a few times, it becomes almost like a sort of sport.

Always remember, never feel bad about asking for a lower price, it is expected in their culture and everyone participates in it.

For more information on shopping, be sure to go to section 12 of your complete Visual Link Spanish™ course. If you do not have the complete course, click here – it is on sale now!

Until next week and…happy holiday shopping!

To learn more Spanish words, please visit our website www.spanishprograms.com

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2 Responses

  1. Craig Jull says:

    I don’t think it is just limited to Spanish speaking countries. Having lived in Latin America for 2 1/2 years and also traveling extensively, I have found bargaining a way of life in many countries.

    Some places like Guatemala do not bargain much at all then their neighbors next door (Mexico) is common practice.
    Yes, I do the same as you when bargaining, start walking away and the prices drops.

  2. tiapat says:

    This type of bargaining with these poor people seems culturally insensitive to me.

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