Haggling in the souks of Morocco
Haggling in the souks of Morocco Reviews
Top tips for haggling! Jan 05, 2011
After eating that tasty tagine and quaffing large amounts of Moroccan tea, tourists are faced with the wonderful world of shopping in Morocco’s markets (souks).
Shopping and haggling go hand in hand in Morocco, and to make sure you survive the experience, here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- treat it like a friendly conversation more than an asset-acquiring adventure. The shop owners might shake your hand, provide you with tea, ask about your health and family and offer you a million smiles. This is all part of the fun though, and its business talk after you feel more “settled in”.
- charm always helps. By joking about the high price, smiling lots and suggesting a kinder price for your budget as a guest in their wonderful country, you are more likely to get a better deal. Think about it, if a foreigner gave you a stern look and asked you the price of your goods in a flat and defensive tone, would you want to start a sales relationship with them?
- whatever price you are quoted, the general rule of thumb is to pay half that price or near enough. It’s quite common to negotiate the price back and forth. Try and ask some of the locals (a friendly hostel/hotel receptionist perhaps, or even a TB member?!) about the going prices for some things. For other things though, you’ll quickly get an idea of a decent price after several shop owners provide you with their quotes.
- never suggest a price you are not willing to pay. In the middle of the smiles and charm, this is serious commerce and don't start making offers you can't or won't honour!
- never close the deal unless you are 110% sure. Once you say yes, backing out will be deeply offensive and disrespectful. If you are still not happy with the price after much haggling, just walk away and say the price is too much for you politely. This might even prompt the shop owner to present a more lucrative counter offer if he is keen. Or even if it doesn’t, at least you have been a respectable customer and can walk away without any guilt.
- window shop with caution. A lot of tourists just like to window shop and have no intention of buying anything. I was one of these people but wasn’t silly enough to start picking up things or going into the shops for a closer look. Instead, I made sure I got to window shop by being the keen photographer. The shop owners knew I just wanted a quick photo as I pointed at my camera, established eye contact with them and waited for them to nod. Usually, they were fine with this and I got to take a picture without the sales patter and take a better look at the goods too! If you start picking things up and going into the shop, you are raising their hopes unnecessarily.
Haggling can be a daunting experience for some tourists, but by following various guidelines such as those listed above, and by using your common sense, it should prove to be quite fun. If all goes to plan, the shopping experience will make a wonderful story when friends and family back home ask about your new purchases!
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