He Said/She Said: Street Vendor Pet Peeves

He Said/She Said: Street Vendor Pet Peeves

Traveling on a budget causes many annoyances, but few are as in-your-face as street vendors.  They exist to sell you something at the highest price possible.  They are tireless in their pursuit of making you a customer, whether you are interested or not.  These are the things they do that annoy us the most.




I hate salespeople.  No matter where and when, I don’t want to deal with a salesperson.  If I want something I’ll do the research, ask around, then go to make a purchase.  I do not want the input of the person who is selling it, their opinion or life story.  I want minimized interaction to get what I am looking for.  It may sound harsh, but I’m not interested in pitches.

The most infuriating vendors are those that won’t answer questions directly.  When I ask, “how much?” and they respond, “don’t worry, you find what you like and we’ll talk about price,” I go from casual to hostile.  I have found what I want, I’m holding it and want to know what it costs.  When I get this response I walk away to their shouts in the background of “how much you want to pay?” and “come back, I make you good price.”  They gave up their opportunity to sell to me by not answering my most important question.

These vendors at the "dirt market" in Beijing are trained experts in avoiding a straight answer to your questions.

Almost as infuriating are vendors that try to make conversation.  I know this is textbook sales trick: step one is to create a connection and establish rapport.  When this occurs, I send them on goose chases by following the first rule of improv: never say no.  I just agree with everything they say, then add a little confusion.  If people ask what I do I say, “I farm people”.  When people ask if I am looking for something I say, “yes, a watermelon to feed my elephant.”  Instead of trying to sell me a hammock they are distracted by the fact I have an elephant.  After the initial confusion they tend to get that I’m joking as I walk off.  Going about it this way ceases their attempts to sell and usually they joke with me as I walk by in the future instead of trying to sell.




I enjoy the help of a sales person when I’m looking for something specific.  I’ve even employed a personal shopper before, but in a foreign country I like to just browse and take in all the different items available.  Unfortunately, the sales people don’t give you much breathing room for taking in their inventory.  Instead they chase you around the store and constantly pepper you with questions, where you from? What you like to buy?  The over-attentive nature of staff is just the beginning of my pet peeves with vendors the world over.

Equally annoying as being followed is the persistence that so many vendors show despite your repeated no’s to them.  Regardless of if you turn them down in their language or the universally understood and simple NO they will continue to pester.  Lowering the price or somehow attempting to make their product more enticing, they will continue to pitch their merchandise even if you have stopped paying attention to them altogether.

The most irksome vendor trick is saying they have something they don’t.  For example the cafe or guesthouse owner that lures you in with the promise of wi-fi only for you to find out they have wi-fi, but no internet connection.  Or the rickshaw driver that swears on the Bhagavad Gita that they know where they are going only for you to be lost for the next half an hour.  All of these little ploys make me much more weary of street vendors and salespeople, which ultimately has served us both well, but is still a source of seemingly constant frustration.

Here’s your turn to rant, when traveling or even at home what are your biggest pet peeves when it comes to street vendors, taxi drivers and sales people?

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» Kate C :
Aug 1, 2012

In Lima, Peru the taxi drivers would slow down and keep pace with me, honking their horn every so often, as if to say “why are you walking? you must not have seen me in this nice taxi, right here”. Drove me nuts.

LOCAVORista Reply:

Kate, I can understand how that would get under your skin- gotta love their ingenuity (ha ha)

» Jessica :
Aug 17, 2012

I find it the oddest when street vendors aggressively sell me things that are clearly not for my demographic. In Bangkok, vendors selling tickets for strip clubs or ping pong shows try to pull me aside all the time, and I think, “am I really your best target? Is the audience at your shows typically composed of young females?”
Read Jessica’s awesome post Sometimes Thailand Sucks

LOCAVORista Reply:

Jessica, I agree, but had to laugh because the ping pong show vendors seem to think everyone would enjoy the performance and market it aggressively.

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About the Author

LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.

About the Author
LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.


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