But in Pakistan, I've found that the only things that have those kind of fixed, accurate pricing are the cheapest, smallest of items. Most prices of other things are seemingly not determined by any intrinsic value of the thing itself, but rather by the shopper. Lots of times, the price of an item is determined by how much the shopkeeper thinks YOU can pay!
Or more likely, double what the shopkeeper thinks you can pay. You see, in Pakistan, almost all shopping is done with lengthy bargaining sessions. Shopkeepers ask for some crazy amount of money, swear up and down that that's the going rate these days - their kids have to eat - times have been tough these days! You counteroffer something equally crazy on the other end - probably half what you'd actually like to pay. The shopkeeper gets somehow personally offended by your lowball offer - why don't you just take food out of his children's mouths already! Are you even here to buy, or are you just screwing around? Why are you wasting his time? Eventually the offers you and the shopkeeper throw at each other will meet somewhere in the middle, and the shopkeeper will assure you he's selling you whatever item at a loss, just to please you (or get you out of his shop, or just because you're such a loyal customer....) This kind of bargaining accompanies almost almost EVERYthing you buy in Pakistan except food, gas, "and maybe the newspaper" says M.
Shopping in Pakistan is not a fun experience for me. First, because of this bargaining. In America, there is almost no bargaining for anything. Sometimes - rarely, though - for certain really HIGH price items, like cars and large home appliances. But even then, a lot of places that sell those items will advertise their "haggle-free" pricing so you know they don't engage in bargaining. It's just not a part of American shopping - and it's becoming even less common every day. Prices in America are fixed, although different stores have sales or have lower prices to entice you to shop there. So the idea that I have to haggle is foreign to me. And then the Pakistani haggling is not fun to be a part of either. They talk so fast I sometimes get lost, and sometimes we've even had to walk away from stuff I really wanted just because the haggling wasn't going well.
I usually shop with one of M's cousins, Appi or his aunt, because they're know to be good hagglers. My mother in law is a backup option, but she's not as good. They tell me not to say a word so that we can get a better deal. The idea behind that is that the shopkeeper is trying to get as much from us as he can, and if he seems we're 'foreigners' he'll overcharge us (because we've come all the way from America, we must be rich. Because all Americans are filthy rich, didn't you know?)
So I have to shut up and try to look as Pathan as possible. (Pathans are an ethnic group in Pakistan that have lighter skin and hair.) Then M and Appi haggled for ages and ages while I sit on a bench and look longingly at whatever item - usually clothes - that I want. Sometimes Appi decides the price isn't good enough and we have to walk away - even if I was FINE with the price! I really wanted that outfit!!!