I have learned from a young age that haggling is an important part of daily life in Morocco. My family used to send me to buy stuff and they always insisted that I have to haggle down the price no matter what I was sent to buy.
I have to confess that as a kid, it was a daunting task to haggle the prices down with sellers. But I had to do what I was told and act like I knew what I was doing. I used to think that it is offensive to ask somebody to lower the price, while you can either take it or leave it.
But as I grew older I learned that that’s how things work in Morocco. I realized that haggling is like a national sport for Moroccans, and bad players usually get ripped off with no mercy. I also realized that negotiating prices is not only an important part of the Moroccan culture, but it’s also a skill that defines how manly you are among friends, family members, and society.
In Morocco, If you are not able to negotiate the prices of things you want to buy, you better ask somebody else to buy them for you. Or else you will buy things with double or quadruple their worth.
People haggle all over the world, but things are different in Morocco. Especially for tourists that never had an idea about Morocco and the Moroccan culture. You might have been in Turkey or Thailand and think that you are familiar with the haggling thing. But I need to tell you that Morocco stands alone in this game.
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Haggling is an important skill in Morocco
Haggling in Morocco is a crucial skill that everyone works hard to acquire from a young age. I remember how proud my teenage friends were when they bought clothes or a pair of shoes with a good price. And how happy they were to tell everybody about it. But no matter how good of a deal they had there will be always somebody else “friends/family” that pretends they can get it with less.
On the other hand, I have seen some friends who were very proud that they sold items to people with 5 times their worth or more. And they see nothing wrong with it, on the opposite they consider themselves sharp and smart.
I’ve seen shop vendors sold to tourists items with 500% or 600% more than the real worth of them. And the tourists were more than happy to pay those amounts of money. Maybe those tourists were too rich to haggle or maybe those vendors have impressive selling skills. But I believe that commerce is about respect and dignity and no one deserves to be ripped off no matter how rich or how poor they are.
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Haggling in Morocco – Tips & Advice
When going shopping in the souks of Morocco, keep in mind that you are going to start a battle for everything you want to buy.
Here are some tips that will help you go through the process:
Throw some words in Moroccan Arabic
You will be surprised how shopkeepers can talk to you in every language, why not you surprise them too buy throwing some Moroccan words like:
Labass “How are you”
Ch hal “how much”
This will make them think that you already know a lot about Morocco, and they will think twice before saying a high price.
If you really like the item, do not show it.
If the seller saw that you are very interested in an item, it will be very hard for you to haggle down the price. Act normal and hide your interest as much as you can even though the souks and the shops in the medina are very inviting.
You will be tempted by the beauty of the crafts and trinkets all around you. But you should contain yourself or you will put your money inside the shopkeeper’s pocket before they even say the price.
Know the worth of the item
Never ask only one shop about the price of an item, you need to ask at least four or five different shops about the price of the same item. Then take the least price and take 50 % off from it. That’s the price you want to start your haggling with.
You can also compare prices in your own currency to see if that item is worth what the seller asked you to pay.
Take your time
Don’t haggle only for only two or three minutes. Be patient it takes time.
The more expensive the item you want to buy the more it takes time.
Start with less than what you think is the right price. You will be laughed at and made fun of but don’t worry it’s part of the game, just do the same when the seller says a very high price.
See it as a game you will enjoy the process.
Use your cards well
Read the seller’s mood, you have to tell if he’s going through a good day or a hard one. If his business is not doing well that day your chances are high to get items you want with good prices.
Act like you’re leaving the shop, they might follow you and offer a lower price. Stick to your price and show them the money. That indicates that you’re serious about buying the item and not just wasting their time.
Haggle only when serious
Haggle with the vendors only when you are serious about buying. Because if you managed to make the vendor agree to the price you want, then you have to buy it, if you don’t it’s considered very disrespectful.
Be friendly and smile
Remember to smile you don’t know what good things a smile can bring to you.
My story with haggling in Morocco
I was once in Paradise Valley and I was taking a taxi back to Agadir, I was sitting inside waiting for the taxi driver to get the needed number of people to start the ride. Then three American girls came to the taxi driver and started negotiating the price with him. I sat inside the taxi and was listening to their conversation with the driver.
Read more: Paradise Valley Morocco All you need to know
I was actually surprised because the girls could speak almost fluent Moroccan Arabic. Moreover, they were impressively trying to haggle down the price of the ride even though the driver offered a price which I as a local consider a fair price. Unluckily for the driver, it wasn’t a good business day for him, so he agreed to their price.
I could see the American girls were very happy as they won a battle. Later, Out of curiosity, I asked the girls how come they speak Moroccan Arabic and how come they are so good at haggling. They told me that they could speak Moroccan Arabic because they have been living in Morocco for about three years and they had to learn to haggle because it’s a thing that they encounter on a daily basis, otherwise they couldn’t survive the Moroccan lifestyle.
I was once in Agadir with a friend from the U.K and she wanted to buy some souvenirs so I took her to the souk. She loved a key ring and asked the vendor for its price. “100dh,” he said. I was shocked because I knew the price can’t be more than 20dh. I asked him why he charged her that price, is it because she’s a tourist. You can not imagine how angry he got at me. He was actually expecting me to go along with him. He believes that it’s a normal thing to overcharge tourists. The funny thing is that these are the same people that complain when the city doesn’t receive a good number of visitors.