Make Your Editor Cry: Bargain or Haggle vs. Barter
When you offer to trade something tangible in payment for something else, say your Levi’s jeans for a handwoven shirt in Mexico, or a week of dog-walking in exchange for a home cooked meal, you are engaged in barter—no money is involved. One tangible thing or service is traded for another tangible thing or service.
When you offer to use cash to purchase a thing or service, but for less money than the vendor is asking, you are engaged in bargaining or haggling—not bartering.
I think the cause for the confusion is twofold. First, among recent generations at least, folks who are reared in the USA neither barter nor haggle very much anymore. Therefore, I think many simply lump these two words into the mental category of “that undesirable and often unpleasant activity that some people engage in when trying to obtain things at a reduced price.”
Secondly, part of bartering could involve appraising the value of the traded commodities in question, and that can often include some haggling. Therefore, there could be some natural confusion because both often occur at the same time.
Bottom line: The words bargaining and haggling mean different things and should not be used interchangeably.
Gregg Bridgeman is the Editor-in-Chief at Olivia Kimbrell Press. He is husband to best-selling Christian author Hallee Bridgeman and parent to three. He continues to proudly serve in the US Armed Forces and has done so in either an active or reserve capacity for more than twenty years as an airborne and air assault qualified paratrooper, earning a Bronze Star for his service. Most importantly, he was ordained in October of 2001 after surrendering his life to Christ decades earlier.