Are you a good haggler? I like to consider myself a bit of a bantam weight when it comes to bargaining. I have been to India, I have been to Malaysia, I have been to Turkey. I got my haggle game on in these countries and was reasonably pleased with the results.
But I'm not gonna lie - last time I went to Marrakech I got completely schooled. Those stall holders took one look me at me and my pasty skin, and they just saw dollar signs. Well, Dirham signs to be exact. I engaged in what I thought was some fairly aggressive haggling, and came back with a bunch of items which turned out to be both overpriced and defective. #newb.
So this time, on my return to Marrakech, I vowed to learn from my mistakes. And while the quality of my purchases remains to be seen, there is no disputing the prices were better. Here are my tips for NOT getting ripped off in the Marrakech Souk.
Start bargaining from half the price (or less)
In the souks, bargaining leeway is built into the prices. And if you look like a tourist (side note: if you are wearing harem pants, a floaty tank top and Jesus sandals, you look like a tourist) then the first offer will be even more highly inflated.
A good rule of thumb is to halve the first price you are given, and start haggling from there. If you are feeling extra confident you could even try starting at a third. You will probably still end up paying more than Moroccan price.
Be firm but friendly
I don’t know about you, but I always feel extremely awkward haggling. On the one hand, its kind of an exhilarating experience; on the other hand I sometimes just want to cower in fear and hand over the wads of cash being demanded. “Yes, I believe you that you are barely making a profit from this / that this is better quality than any of the other cheaper stalls I have visited / that you are going to be whipped by your boss once I leave for offering me an insane price - take the money! Just take it!!”
The trick is to view haggling as a fun game. These guys expect you to haggle, so play along with it. And newsfash: they’re talking shit, so don’t be afraid to call them out on it (in a friendly way). Some favourite retorts of mine you may care to use include:
“C’mon, you are still making a good profit on this”
“I don’t want to pay tourist price - how about you make me a better offer”
“You’ve got to be kidding me, the guy down the road was selling them for x”
OK, so this option isn’t open to everyone, but if you speak the local language, clearly you are going to get a better price.
I visited the Marrakech Souk with a lovely French girl Olivia, and she had those stall holders eating out of the palm of her hand. She saw my feeble attempts at haggling and basically pushed me aside to show me how it was done!
If the price is right, take it then and there
There is a lot to be said for the old walk-off trick. If the store holder takes the bait and lowers the price, then great! Pass Go and collect $200.
However if they don’t, and you want to go back later you’re kinda screwed. Now that the store holder figures you didn’t find a better price elsewhere, he is likely to raise the price again. Haggling is sort of a “make or break” venture. Sigh.
Hand them the money
This is a little trick I learned in India (why yes I did just namedrop ;)) If you feel you’re offering a good price and the stall holder is just playing you, take out the cash and just hand it to them.
Chances are any price you are offering them entails some kind of profit for them, and I guess it’s a sassy trick they just can’t refuse. I’ve busted this move a couple of times now, and I’m pleased to say it has a 100% strike rate so far.
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