>Growing a backbone

>So both Sara and Heather have recently blogged about the “gringo price” in Chile. Some Chileans believe that it is possible to exploit foreigners into paying higher prices for a variety of reasons: because they don’t speak Spanish, because they might not know how much things normally cost, because they may not be used to negotiating prices, etc.

I can recall only one specific time when I fell pray. When my mom came to visit me, I went to pick her up at the airport. I took a taxi out there, which only cost me $CLP 8.000 (I had called the night before). I should have asked him to wait for me, but I had no idea how long it would be before she got through customs, etc. When we went to leave, the taxistas almost attacked us because we were so obviously gringas. The first guy told us it would be $CLP 12.000. I told him no. He came down to $11.000 telling me all the tolls he would have to pay for. I looked at him quizzically and my mom poked me and told me it was okay, I didn’t have to negotiate. So I didn’t. Then, when we got to my house, I only had two $10.000 bills with me, and the taxista claimed he didn’t have change. So I looked through my monedas (coins) and came up with 400 pesos. So I told him I would pay him 10.400 or he could find me change. He found me change.

Another time I was really tired (and a little tipsy) coming home from a salsa club somewhere near the southern end of Ñuñoa and the taxista took me in the wrong direction on Vicuña Mackenna (as in towards Campus San Joaquin instead of towards Providencia) and I was too spaced out to notice until we passed the Paradero for Carlos Valdovinos and then Camino Agricola. I flipped out on the taxista because I TOLD him “hacia Providencia” and he took me the wrong way. He claimed that he didn’t understand my gringa accent. Yeah right.

So anyway, because I haven’t really had to negotiate too much when it comes to the prices of things, I’m worried that I won’t have much of a backbone when I get to Chile. I’m not a confrontational person, and I have to feel VERY confident in myself to argue with strangers. I’ve read some good advice in the comments of the blogs that I already mentioned, like negotiating the price of any “ofertas” before hand.

Here is my question to you, oh wise Chile ex-pats. How much should the following things cost?
A haircut
A taxi ride from the airport to Providencia/Ñuñoa
1 kilo of palta at the feria
A gym membership (at a decent gym)

Also, any other negotiating tips would be appreciated. Grax!


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