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Getting Around

Shopping - De Compras


Street shopping: bargain, bargain and then bargain some more.


Although malls and shopping centers are becoming more common in Latin America, there is nothing like the excitement of buying in a street market. You will be able to find everything from handicrafts to watches, and from "designer" clothes to toys.


You will find that most of the articles being sold do NOT have a price tag. I have seen tourists that never realized the product was for sale because they never found a price tag.



How do you find out the price without a tag? Here is how it works. It is pure capitalism. The demand sets the price.

1.-  Generally, the price is set at the moment the seller sees you. The more anxious or in need you seem to be, the higher the price. 

2.-  Now it is your turn. You can either buy or offer a lower price. If your offer is too low and there are a lot of other potential customers, the seller won't even waste his time. On the other hand, if there are not enough buyers, he will try to move you to a higher, "fair" price, so...

3.- There is a proposal from the seller.

4.- You make a counter proposal, and so on and so on until you reach an agreeable price for both parties.

How do you know the fair price? Shop around. If you want to save some money don't buy in the tourist zones, hotels or the airport. 

It is very important to keep a good perspective, because in some countries a dollar for you may be worth as much as twenty five dollars for them, relatively speaking.

Be nice to people and make the bargaining a good experience for both.



Are there any risks?


If you buy electronics they won't give you a warranty.  Don't try to return something that broke the first time you used it because the seller doesn't know you, has never seen you, and sold you anything. Another recommendation, don't go out with a lot of money. Also, before you go, ask if the area where you will be shopping is safe. If what you are buying is too bulky, expensive or runs the risk of being stolen on your way back, ask to the seller to deliver it to your hotel. Of course, the concierge will pay for it in your place. 


Software is very cheap but not original. If you are flying back to the USA, it is illegal to enter to the country with it. Other countries have their own regulations. 



Store and Mall shopping. 


If you don't like the stress of bargaining and need a warranty then you can buy at malls or stores where the price is set. However, it will be hard to return something, and if you really fight hard they will give you a store credit to be used  in the same store. Usually there are no refunds or credits back to your credit card.



Internet shopping. 


E-commerce is just beginning in Latin America. It is not as common as in the USA and you do not have the safety nets that Americans have been implementing during their learning process. Because of these very same reasons, people don't trust it. If you have to buy via internet, then my recommendation is to buy from a site with a well known brick and mortar shop, and double check their delivery and return policies. Send them an email asking any questions that you might have. If they don't answer in a couple of days, well, that is the way they will respond to your complaint too.
















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