Bargaining and Tipping Posted by on Dec 27, 2010 in Culture

Today I wanted to talk a little about bargaining while shopping and also about tipping in Poland.

Price bargaining, officially known as price negotiation, is quite common when shopping in the markets or bazaars in Poland. There are official regulations which oblige shop or stall owners to show a price, but these are flexible and the buyer has every right during the sale of products and services to negotiate prices which is uncommon when shopping in a regular shop. Here you won’t find anybody bargaining for TV’s or bread for example. If however you are doing a lot of shopping in one place (clothing or electronic products for example) ask for a discount or something added even if it is a regular shop. If the salesperson realizes that you are a good client, he or she will often throw something in or give a discount. There is no harm in trying. Large purchases can be discounted but in supermarkets it’s not really the custom to bargain with the check out girl.

If you shop at bazaars, open air markets and when buying souvenirs in tourist places or handicraft or farm products try bargaining. Accepting the first price is not a good idea. But remember that price negotiations in Poland are far from bargaining as done in Arabic countries. With a little common sense and good humor you can have a lot of fun especially when shopping in traditional regional product shops at the bazaars in Zakopane where the Highlanders like to have a bit of a joke. If you get a rude reply to your offer, remember you are the one buying so you are in control of the negotiations. If you don’t like the ways things are going you can always go somewhere else.

Tipping or not can be a tricky decision. It has changed a lot since the good old bad days when everything had to be tipped. Today it is understood that you tip because the service was good, or you want to tip. Those receiving tips can consider it as a form of appreciation for their service. The market is free and open, competition in the service industries is high. You tip for quality now, not because you have to. Demand for higher quality services is rising and people are expecting more. So if you were satisfied with the service leave a tip. You may have to ignore the waiter waiting for his tip, but the case in general is that you will not be forced into tipping. However you have to bear in mind that catering staff, restaurants, clubs, etc are paid a very minimum wage. They are expected to make tips and most of them understand that good service will bring in tips. So if you think it was worth it, add 10% to the bill as a tip and try to pay it cash to your waiter or waitress. If the service and atmosphere has been very good you can even add more.

When paying by credit card look out for a third line on the printout called ‘NAPIWEK‘ (tip) as this is where you add the tip to the total of your bill to be charged to your account. Unfortunately if the tip money goes through official channels it might not reach the waiter or waitress who served you. More often than not all the tips are put together then shared out amongst the staff. Very occasionally the owner keeps the tips from the credit cards. So leave your tip on the table.

A tip for handling your luggage, taking it up to your room etc, or any other small service in a 2, 3 star hotels is 5 złotych. In a 5 star hotel you can tip 10 zł. Please remember that tipping in a five star hotel is not obligatory. And the rules are the same, no effort no tip.

When paying for a taxi, round up the bill, it saves hunting for change. Generally taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped. So if you do the driver will be surprised, and happy.


I hope you will have pleasant memories from shopping, dining and traveling in Poland!


Do następnego razu! (Till next time…)



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About the Author: Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew near Lublin, Poland and moved to Warsaw to study International Business. I have passion for languages: any languages! Currently I live in New Hampshire. I enjoy skiing, kayaking, biking and paddle boarding. My husband speaks a little Polish, but our daughters are fluent in it! I wanted to make sure that they can communicate with their Polish relatives in our native language. Teaching them Polish since they were born was the best thing I could have given them! I have been writing about learning Polish language and culture for Transparent Language’s Polish Blog since 2010.


  1. Steve:

    Kasia, thanks very much for this, especially on tipping. I used to routinely tip when I first came to Poland except when the service was especially unacceptable. However, in places where I got to know the staff well, they sometimes refused the tip because their Polish customers would never leave a tip – a lovely compliment that made me feel like a welcome guest rather than a just a foreigner. However, it left me in a quandary on what to do – you have helped answer this.

    I was fascinated about tipping the person carrying the luggage in hotels. I’ve never been in a hotel in Poland where this has been offered.

  2. M:

    “to negotiate prices which is uncommon when shopping in a regular shop. Here you won’t find anybody bargaining for TV’s or bread for example.”

    Not quite true. I work in retail (electronics) – granted, not a chain store but a small specialized store – and it seems like every other person asks for a discount. People routinely ask for discounts when buying furniture, electronics and big household items;I did when I bought my stove and dishwasher recently. Again, not in a big name chain store, but in smaller retail shops.

    On the other hand, the only bargaining I’ve seen at markets and bazaars didn’t come from the buyer but from the seller: a tactial lowering of the price when faced with a hesitant customer.