Fending Off Tourist Traps


I’m not exactly the vacationing type, nor am I a hungry tourist looking for souvenirs to buy, but when it comes to street vendors, a lot of fun can be made. Everyone knows street vendors: those annoying guys on the street shining laser pointers at your eyes and blowing bubbles with those bubble machines in hopes of making a sale. I like to call them “trolls”.

Guy: Hmmm… that looks interesting. I might as well buy it.
Troll: *gets out cell phone* Call for backup! We’ve got some suckers over here!

And before you even know it, you’ll be overwhelmed by a great wave of salespeople. Nonetheless, that didn’t stop my friends from falling for it. After all, those laser pointers look neat. They’re strong enough so that you can see the beam, and they come with little attachments to scatter the light in several different patterns. Not to mention that, in the United States, those things cost about $50 a piece, whereas those guys in Italy are offering it at 30 euros.

Wait… did I hear 30 euros? False, my friend. Someone scored a laser pointer for ten euros, and someone else got it for five.

Guy: How much?
Troll: How much do you have?
Guy: How much are you going to sell it?
Troll: Thirty euros.
Guy: But that guy over there is selling them at fifteen euros. I’ll just go over to hi….
Troll: All right, fine. Fifteen Euros.
Guy: I only have a ten euro bill.
Troll: Fine, ten euros.

It’s all about persuasion. Lure the man in with your bargain-hunting skills, and soon enough, you’ll have what you want for minimum price. If there’s one thing I learned about business transactions in Italy, it’s that the more persistent you are with the sellers, the more likely he’ll shorten the price for you.

And that’s what’s so fun about street vendors. They’re not like retail stores with their fixed prices. Most are manipulative. Eventually, we had a contest to see who could get the lowest price. Bring friends, too. The cascade effect works occasionally:

Troll: Laser pointers, twenty euros.
Guy 1: I only have ten euros. How about that much?.
Troll: Sure thing.
Guy 2: Did that guy just get it for ten euros?
Guy 3: Yeah, I want one for ten too.
Troll: Same price? Go ahead.

Additionally, I’ve heard of some very interesting strategies my friends executed pretty well. At a gift shop, my eyes fell upon on a key-bowl. The stamp said 15 euros. The cashier offered it for ten. A member of my group got it for five. Not sure what he did, but it was potent.

Finally, I’d like to commemorate one of my group members for his good-faith effort in truly getting a minimal price.

Troll: Hello, may I interest you in….
Guy: Twenty cents, Twenty cents!
Troll: Excuse m….
Guy: I’ll give you twenty cents for it!
Troll: How about te….
Guy: Twenty cents! Twenty cents!
Troll: You’re a basta….

Needless to say, that was our final attempt. It’s safe to say that after several tourist traps and negotiation, we got some pretty good deals on those laser pointers. I still feel like a jerk, though, for buying one for ten euros. The trolls may be irritating occasionally, but they work hard.

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About shooterboss

Canadian blogger and software engineer. Hopes to live in a lighthouse near Cape Cod in retirement.
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