Aside from poor weather, nothing can damper a day of fun and leisure than pushy salespeople. We’ve experienced them in just about every country we’ve been to. From pushy sunglass hawkers in the Boracay Islands, to aggressive tour vendors in Thailand, to crafty timeshare reps in Mexico, to hostile shop keeps in Jamaica, we’ve managed to politely shrug these minor annoyances from ruining our otherwise enjoyable vacations. Here are 8 tips to avoid aggressive, sneaky and crafty salespeople abroad.
1. Don’t make eye contact – Firstly don’t make eye contact with the vendor. Making eye contact is almost like inviting them to approach you. Eye contact will initiate them to open up a dialogue with you in which some of the more pushy vendors may even follow you for a number of feet or even blocks.
2. Don’t look at their wares – Don’t look at the prices on their signs or billboards or whatever goods they are holding in their hands unless you actually want to purchase something. You may end up with a buzzard in your ear for the next hour just because you asked out of curiosity. If you don’t want something just flat out tell them no. If you tell them maybe later, they will probably return every so often interrupting your day or stand away just far enough to stare at you uncomfortably until you leave.
3. Talk while you walk – Don’t stop to answer questions. Be polite, smile and say no thanks. Once they have you stopped they’ll say anything to keep you from leaving. Some will get very friendly talking about their family and their work just to get a dialogue going. Don’t waste any precious time getting stuck in these conversations.
4. NEVER let them put ANYTHING in your hand – VERY IMPORTANT. Don’t ever let ANYBODY put ANYTHING in your hands. Some hawkers can get very aggressive and demand money using this tactic. Some may put it in your hand and make you feel too guilty to give it back to them.
5. Try to avoid where they stay if convenient – I do this to avoid aggressive timeshare reps and other vendors if convenient enough. Many timeshare reps hang out in high trafficked areas of the resort where they are most likely to find you, like around the resort lobby, pool or restaurant. These areas always have numerous access points. Just travel the one you think they may not be around. If there are pushy vendors on the boardwalk, we walk the beach or the other way around. Don’t go too out of the way. Sometimes it’s just easier to say no and eventually they’ll know you mean business and try to hack at the next victim and leave you alone.
6. Have your excuses ready – For most vendors it’s easy enough to just say, no thanks. For timeshare reps you may need a few excuses handy to politely escape their clutches. I like to use the “always on the go” approach. If they try to catch you right after check in let them know that you want to settle down before you make an appointment. If they call your room let them know you are now on your way out to meet friends for either breakfast, lunch or dinner. If they catch you on the grounds in the morning your either on your way to breakfast or on your way to meet a tour… you get the picture. They’ll probably get the picture after day three and leave you alone for the rest of your vacation.
Advanced techniques for extra aggressive vendors
7. If they grab you scream in pain – One of the things I despise is when a vendor actually grabs me to get me to stay. This is very rare and as much as I hate it, I still don’t like to create a fuss over it. I found that if I yell “ouch!” when they grab me, they immediately let go and apologize. At this point I am still walking away and tell them “gotcha” and we both get a little chuckle.
8. Posture up and get stern – Some vendors and even taxi drivers can try to steer you away from where you have to be to try to get you to shop at stores or stay at hotels where they partner with and get commissions from. They will try to lure you in with stories of amazing deals at their shop. For the most part the deals or nothing special and some are actually illegal scams which prey on tourists. If they ask you this and try to tell you about their great deals, tell them that you want to go straight to your destination and you don’t want to stop ANYWHERE.
Some of these things may have already happened to you. Some may never. Just make sure that if it does you are well prepared for it. Safe travels!