I spent 5 nights in Beijing in March 2010 during which I made 2 purchases using credit card : one for hotel bill, the other in a well established restaurant well known for its peking duck. Both credit card slips reflected entire credit card numbers instead of last 4 digits commonly practice by all merchants as security measures.
As a result, my credit card was fraudulently used for goods in Shanghai cost about RMB 5000 (luckily it was not a huge amount), I reported this unauthorised transaction to my credit card company, filling out necessary forms, a few exchange of emails, the matter still yet to be resolved.
Lesson learnt from this experience is : Never use credit card in Beijing, no matter how well established the organisations are, payment by cash is the safest option. I have been to other cities in China and paid by credit card without problem.
Silk Street is a large modern shopping centre that contains over 1,700 vendors who, mostly, sell counterfeit designer brand clothing and shoes. As well as this, their are stalls selling traditional Chinese handicrafts, antiques, calligraphy, carpets, table cloths, bed coverings, paintings, hand-knit dresses, toys, electronic gadgets, trinkets, and fine jewellery. Opened on March 19, 2005, and replacing the old alley-based Xiushui Market, the shopping centre attracts thousands of foreign tourists looking for counterfeit bargains. The place can feel very intimidating with vendors trying to attract you into their area. Remember to bargain as hard as you can and don't, by any means, accept their first price. It's all a 'game' and you remember that and that the items they sell aren't legitimate.
When visiting any market in Beijing you must bargain prices, otherwise, you will come out from the market without a penny. I want you to think about and focus in the following points:
- Poor bargaining skills
- Not knowing the local language
- You are a foreigner, you are supposed to have money.
The following interesting comment illustrates how important is the art of bargaining (you can actually see it at this link):
“Author: ly_wan (email@example.com)
I visited some of the places which listed by Nancy when I was in Beijing last November. It was great.
But...remember to cut the price into half or even more. I bought a piece of lady blouse at Ya Xiu Market, the price stated was RMB 100.00.
Well, I got it in RMB 50.00 but it was still consider expensive when one of my Beijing friend told me that, I actually can buy the blouse at only RMB 25.00. Oh, my god!”
Many vendors will follow you to try to sell their products and won't leave you alone until you buy something, or until you ask for help as I did! Many of them are not bad people, they just try to sell, but others just give you their products and expect for you to pay without even asking if you want to buy them.
Always try to pay the exact amount. If you give them more and expect your change back, you're in risk of receiving fake bills, or even the vendor can go running out with your change.
Many Chinese look at you in these terms, “you are a foreigner, you have money”, so, they will do their best to make you pay high (I don’t say rip you off because isn't polite).
At bargaining prices you might be an ace, however, don’t ever think you will be able to cheat somebody. Do you think the Chinese will sell you something at a loss?
Where there aren't fixed prices, you must show your bargaining skills.
Taking short distances by taxi in the city won’t require any price dispute since most taxis have taximeters. If they don’t, well, once again, you must bargain. You should also bargain if your ride is a long one like going to the Great Wall or the Ming tombs. It is not a bad idea to hire a taxi for the whole day but here you will have to bargain.
Places where you must bargain really hard: public markets and souvenirs stands.
As to restaurants, shopping centers and shopping arcades, etc., you won’t need to bargain, prices are fixed.
My advice: Don’t make silly comparisons between prices in your country and the prices in China, instead, before coming try to know what something really worths in China. If you want to buy something and the seller tells you 28 Yuan you may think that is so cheap because 28 Yuan is more or less the equivalent to 3.5 American dollars. However, you might buy that stuff elsewhere by half of the price.
You might look at a small vase of the Tang dynasty and think that in the Chinatown of your country it would cost 400 Yuan. That vase probably sells locally for 50 Yuan, so when the seller asks for 700 Yuan for it, remember 100 is probably the local price.
Another point is, what you want to buy often is sold at more than one stall in the area you are shopping, so, you should ask prices and bargain at several before buying, then you just choose the one that offers the more attractive price.
Don’t feel bad if some of the sellers look annoyed seeing you bargain hard, in fact they are annoyed because they know they cannot get a good profit from you.
Happy bargaining time!
I met two people who, like me, were scammed on Wangfujing by students claiming to be learning English. They say they want to practice English,then take you to a university room (though it could be anywhere) and pressurise you into buying paintings of fairly low quality that they say they have painted. The Lonely Planet guide to China is at serious fault for saying that students just want to practice their English with you - in Beijing, that is just not true. Now it's really not the worst scam comnpared to many others like the Tea Room one, but when you are suddenly surrounded by two or three people in a place aggressively pressurising you on your own, you are most likely to pay something just to leave and also curse your utter stupidity and naivety for falling into the trap. I suddenly found out that the man posing at the tutor was aggressive and threatening when I made to leave. I threw the pictures away at the hotel.
We got a lot of people coming up to us saying they were art students, and that they would like us to go and view their work nearby.
we never went, but speaking to people who had, it was something of a scam, and people were given the hard sell on buying paintings from these "students."
While prices are relatively low in China for transportation, food, and souveniurs, foreigners pay much more than locals. Looking Chinese will definitely help you get better bargains, but most all of foreigners signify "money" to vendors. Of all things, don't let out where you're from (especially if you're a meiyi huayi), unless you want to pay an extra 50 yuan for that pack of postcards.
You will find lot of people on streets and outside malls selling CHEAP dvds (around 7 RMB) . Some time the image in the DVD will be of a diffrent movie then what it contains inside,. SO BE SURE IF YOU R GIFTING THE DVD that it contains decent stuff.
Beware the Beijing street vendors. They magically appear whenever your tour bus stops at one of the major sites (except at the great wall, I guess they keep them out of that area). They are VERY PERSISTENT, and do not take no very easily. They are very insistent that you need to buy what they are selling, which is usually either tour books, packets of postcards, or fake Rolex watches.
It is OK to buy from them, but beware that the first price they give you is probably about 5 times what they will really take for it. I bought a fake Rolex, the starting price he asked was $12, but I was able to get it for $3.
Also, don't even make eye contact unless you are really interested in what they are selling, becuase even a casual show of slight interest will have them chasing you into the restroom to make a sale (yes, this happened to me).
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