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Some people love the challenge of haggling, others find it an unwelcome stress. It's best to try and enjoy it if you plan to buy something in the souks, and the best strategy is to stay firm and calm, and preferably keep a smile on your face. It's hard to give a guide to what to offer if you don't know the value of it yourself. Rough guides like "offer a third of what they ask" can work, but in the Arab world the first price is based on how much they think you can afford.
For the locals the only thing you have to bargain for are the craft items in the Souk: clothes, pottery, paintings, etc. You shouldn't, and typically don't, need to barter for anything else, like food and drink. Obviously taxis are a different matter, as they will refuse to use their meters and ask ridiculous prices. But everywhere else the prices are advertised and fixed.
When in Marrakesh expect to have to haggle for everything!
Some general tips:
- Have a maximum price in mind for the item and offer slightly below it.
- If they offer you a ridiculously high price (which they often do), offer a ridiculously low price right back.
- They will start lowering their price and expect you to do the same. I would recommend just reasserting your original low price until they come down satisfactorily enough to begin bargaining. (The idea behind this is that in most cases they will offer you a really high price and expect you to start bargaining and offering higher and higher prices straight away. By doing so, they will always make a large profit from you.)
- I find that smiles and jokes makes the process more enjoyable and they are more willing to come down.
- If they still will not come anywhere near your maximum, don't be tempted by their price and walk away. You'll be surprised by how quickly the price comes down then!
Here are some prices I paid for various items:
- I bought a hat on my first day (they are everywhere) and paid 20 dirhams for it, which was a RIP OFF. I was offered it for 10 the next day, so my guess is that they are only really worth a few dirhams. (I found another tourist later on who paid 80 for exactly the same hat.)
- I went on the caleches and only managed to get 100 dirhams for an hour after excessive bargaining and approaching different drivers - seems like they are rather organised! There is a price list on the caleche itself which says 120 dirhams for an hour - however do not fall for tricks e.g. I met a couple who ended up paying 240 dirhams for an hour after being told the price is per person!
- Taxi drivers love to rip people off. If you can, insist on them switching on their meters (which they will more often than not refuse to). I never paid more than 20dirhams for a taxi ride, which was negotiated beforehand and without giving any tips (I think the normal price for getting from one place to another within the walls is about 10dirhams).
- Finally, we bought an Argentina football shirt from one of the stalls on the edge of the square (this was when the World Cup was on). After bargaining for what seemed like forever, and the guy getting aggressive before the owner stepped in, we managed to pay 80 dirhams for it. The shop assistant's anger made us feel like we really got a bargain!
Although haggling constantly got a bit tiring and frustrating, try to make the process as fun as possible and not be too hard on yourself if you do get ripped off!
Never pay the price they ask!
If they are asking for 10 dirhams, never pay more than 3. Sometimes they ask 100 dirhams for something that you can by for 20! Just tell them it is too expensive that they are gonna low the price, insist and you'll get lower prices!
Bargain before you buy
Don't expect to find fixed prices in Souks or markets. In Morocco you have to invest time for everything you want to buy. However don't start bargaining if you do not intend to buy. It's a great ofence. If bargain is not your thing you can look for shops with fixed price which are usually more expensive.
Shopping in Medina is fabulous experience. First the way Medina is organized. One lane fruit, other one jeweleries, other one sweets, etc. Not so much interesting for women is street with technical staff and repairing motorcycles. Some streets where are sold chickens and turkeys you can smell long in advance and also after. These streets and little lanes are mostly off the beaten path of Medina, which is even more interesting.
All shops with the same commodity are just next to each other. The most beautiful and colorful are carpets shops, shops with clothes, candies, spice, shoes, vegetable, jeweleries. And many others...
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The 'art' of bargaining
When buying something in the souk, kasbah or shops, it is obvious you will have to bargain. It looks like buying crafts or gifts is not done without haggling. It seems a little bit like an auction and one should NEVER offer a price if you are not really interested in buying something.
Be aware: if you offer a price, you are obliged to pay (and buy) if the shopkeeper agrees.
Before starting the game of bargaining keep in mind the absolute maximum price you are willing to pay. It’s also good to know that the shopkeeper’s first price is not a guide to how low he will go. They are all different; sometimes they will go to ten percent of the original quote, others may not budge much. If the price stays above your maximum, stop bargaining, walk away (perhaps you get another lower offer) and try it somewhere else.
I have to admit my bargaining skills are not that good and I often feel still having paid too much after the ‘game’.
Yet another country that doesn't like to tell you what an item is really worth... I would probably love haggling if I was any good at it, but I end up feeling like I've paid way too much every time I go shopping. And it's not just paranoia - in almost every instance I found a shop up the road with cheaper products.
Having said that, it is nice to talk to local people and we've sparked some really good conversations arguing over the price of saffron!
Anyway, apparently, the trick is to always be willing to walk away - Never Give In!!!
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Sharpen your bargaining skills
Or be prepared to be ripped off. This is the way it is. The price your told initially is not set in stone, they expect you to bargain. And if you don't you'll feel foolish when you ask a marrakeshi if you got a good deal. I found that it worked best to offer half of the price I was told and work from there. They will look at you like you're crazy, then say another price, then you'll do the same. At some point, hopefully, you'll arrive at a price you're both happy with.
If they won't budge/go down on the price enough to make you happy, I suggest that if you really want the item you're bargaining over, you scan their "shop" for something else you like as well and say "OK, I'll pay 200 dirham for it if you throw this item in as well." This worked more often than not.
Sometimes they will refuse your offers entirely as a bluff. Be prepared to walk away. I had a man chase me half way through one of the souks to sell me an item, and at MY price.
However, don't be a cheapskate. A LOT of these items are handcrafted, and a lot of these people get by on A LOT less money than you make at home. Sometimes it's worth it to pay a little more than you want to, to get something you'll never find at home.
When you are a really poor bargainer , you will
get loads of gifts. ;-) We got plenty.
In the picture you can see some sort of rasp.
It is used to remove the hardened areas of
skin of your feet. It is made of baked clay.
For your information ,
I don't need it.
I got baby feet ,
size 45. ;:-)
If you want to by things in the souks or anywhere else, you HAVE TO bargain!
As tourist, you are the main target because you are not supposed to know the real value of the things you buy...So a good advice....if you want to buy something special, ask to a local person (a moroccan friend is better ) what is the normal price of it. Most of the time, the saleman say a price according to the person... so it is up to you to negociate to the price you are willing to pay for it...if it does not work...leave! Another advice is to say that you had a better offer is another shop, that encourage the saleman to beat this offer.
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