The Ferengi are the Star Trek universe’s greedy, mischievous, and crafty aliens whose entire culture is based on accumulating wealth. They are so dedicated to money that their holy book, “The Rules Of Acquisition” are a set of guidelines by which to conduct business. While the Ferengi world may be fictional, their rules can help you bargain your way in and out of most markets anywhere on Earth.


Rule # 214 – “Never Begin A Negotiation On An Empty Stomach”

Bargaining takes time and if you’re in a rush you won’t get the price you want and likely get frustrated in the process. Don’t start bargaining when you’re hungry, hurrying to make that tour bus, or when you’re bladder is telling you otherwise. Limited time means you’ve got less wiggle room to get that price down to what’s fair.

empty dinner table

Rule # 7 – “Keep Your Ears Open”

You’ll stand a better chance of bargaining your way to a good price if you listen carefully to the person you’re negotiating with. You’ll notice when bargaining for anything, the seller is usually adept at picking up clues about their potential customers (Rule # 194 by the way – it’s always good to know about new customers before they walk in the door). Do the same, ask questions and have a conversation – and make sure to keep in mind all of the prices you’re quoted too.

string telephone

Rule #3 – Never Spend More On An Acquisition That You Have To

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People who aren’t comfortable bargaining often feel “bad” about asking for a lower price. During any negotiation in a shop, the prices are already inflated and the shopkeeper has a number in mind (Rule # 98 – “every man has his price”); a hard and soft point. The soft point is where you’ll get with a bit of negotiating, often the big initial drop in price. The hard point takes longer (recall Rule # 214 above) and is the lowest price the owner is really willing to accept.


Rule #74 – Knowledge Equals Profit

In addition to keeping your ears open (Rule # 7) you should keep your eyes open too. Shop around to get a feel for the local prices of an item or similar things you may want to buy (like shoes for example). Get a good number in your head and research how bargaining works in a particular area so you know both how to negotiate on local terms and what prices to begin with. For example, in Morocco your initial price should generally start with 1/4 of the quoted price.

one dollar bill

Rule #16 – A Deal Is A Deal

An unofficial Ferengi rule is to “always inspect the merchandise before making a deal.” Then, once you agree to a price, that’s the end of negotiations, a rule that hopefully the person you’re dealing with will follow as well. After both sides agree (and don’t agree if you feel ripped off!) and are happy with the final price, relax. Assuming nothing extremely out of the ordinary happens, a deal is a deal. Bargaining isn’t a competition and more important than the best price is that you leave feeling good about the transaction.

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Be Savvy And Enjoy The Process

Negotiating is a process you can learn to love. Bargaining is like a game and an integral part of many cultures here on Earth. The process is about forging relationships – locally it’s how shopkeepers can earn repeat business – and for you it can be a good way to learn about an individual in the society you’re visiting. You’ll most always be asked an initial price or what you think is fair for something, so have a number in mind. The lower the better (it can’t hurt if in doubt) and be sure to engage the person.

It’s what the Ferengi would do – well, they’d also do a lot of unethical and illegal things – but if you stick to these select Rules Or Acquisition you should be able to bargain like an intergalactic pro even if you don’t know the local language.

[photos by: karenchu121 (drinks with Ferengi), Socwind (empty table), dotbenjamin (string telephone), benjuni (bargaining), Gerwin Filius (dollar bill), Litandmore (handshake)]