Wednesday, May 17, 2006

From Lebanon 11

"It's Free" "بلا حقها"

It is the most despised phrase you can hear during a commercial transaction. What might seem like a smooth purchase will become nightmarish when the salesperson utters these 2 words.

Bargaining down a price is an essential skill developed through growth and experience, but a "بلا حقها" interrupts the instinctual habits as it forces you to go against nature.

How can an offer of free services be so evil? Well, because it is not genuine. If you take it literally, you will be accused of stealing. When a salesperson uses this phrase he is not being generous, he is forcing you to reverse bargain. He will insist on a "بلا حقها" until you are forced to start offering what you think is fair value. However the incessant "بلا حقها" will not stop pushing you into the unnatural position of offering more than his asking price of Zero.

Since you, being a fair normal person, will not walk away with the product or service for free. You will end up offering a sum of money well over the market value to counter the sales person "generosity". That is when the "بلا حقها" barrage stops, but instead of the salesperson being happy and appreciative of your offer; He (yes always a He) will be angry at you for breaking his word.

You just bullied him into accepting evil of money when all he wanted was to please you for free.

"بلا حقها" a Lebanese trade traditional strategy that was not taught in my MBA program.


Doha said...

What annoys me the most when buying something in Lebanon, is when you ask how much you need to pay, the seller just says, "ad ma biddik" (whatever you want to pay). I hate that. I usually show my annoyance and say that I don't like this answer.

Ramzi said...

and lets not forget "khalliya 3layna"

Passenger in Lebanon said...

A taxi driver just refused to take money and I got so annoyed that I took a ten dollar bill and just threw it in the front seat! I have no idea if I overpaid or underpaid and he kept insisting that I can pay him when he comes back to pick me up when I kept telling him that I am not going back!!!! Then he took off angry! Go figure.

Doha said...


Don't forget that after the person says "khaliyya 3layna", one should say "la walaw!" and engage in some give and take conversation before paying what you have to pay.

Imagine if you just said, "okay, tayib, merci" and then just walked out of the store. They'd curse you!

With the Lebanese, it's a long winding story....

Lazarus said...

well, doha, i have done that (walked out of a store that is). he came running after me :)

Eve said...

yeah, i've always wondered why I can't just say: "riiiilly? merci, mish rah za3lak" and just leave.

Charles Malik said...


I've walked out many a time. Then again, I'm a nasty, nasty bargainer. I normally bring up a lot of extraneous stuff like the amount it costs for plastic in China, the amount it costs to ship things, the cost of tariffs put in place by silly socialist political leaders (they normally support), the cost of benzene, the cost of Syrian versus Lebanese labor, renting space, the convenience of the location, etc. It actually helps put a precise price tag on the good.

With servis drivers, I hate when they start whining about benzene. I realize they just want to make an extra thou after they haven't picked anyone else up on the way and I asked them to go a long distance. I normally pay servisein without them evening asking for it. But if they bring up lies like benzene, I engage them in the luxury they have already since benzene is government subsidized.

AbdulKarim said...

Actually, i was once told that and I immediately said OK and accepted the deal. It was back in 1994,a Red Hot Chili Peppers cassette. Its not as difficult as it seems. All you have to do is say OK and walk away with it.

Anonymous said...

Your site is on top of my favourites - Great work I like it.