For many travellers bargaining in Morocco is a total hassle.
You see something that you want to buy, you ask how much it is, and you’re asked: how much you give?
You have no idea how much the pot/shirt/spices are actually worth and now instead of trying to work out if you can afford it you’re wondering how much you’re about to be cheated for.
Haggling over prices is part of Moroccan culture but they know that tourists have no idea how much things are worth and that Europeans are shy to offer too low a price. So the guy in the market will declare the scarf is worth 500 dirhams (450 euros), knowing that you might then offer 300. And it’s worth about 100. It doesn’t help that the many Moroccans, particularly the younger guys, can be quite aggressive and loud, making a show of being offended when you don’t agree to the price.
How to Haggle in Morocco
You never want to get into an argument in Morocco – they’ve had way more practice than you and will win. Instead the best thing is to greet them with the usual Arabic phrases, be respectful but not too friendly. Maintain a disinterested distance and don’t let them take you by the arm to show you all their wares.
When you’ve found what you’re looking for, ask the price and then start to slowly leave, dragging it out and the merchant will probably start to drop the price, all the time asking ‘what is your price?’ Feel free to walk away, go and check the price at another stall and don’t be afraid to offer a low price.Ultimately it’s a feeling thing where you make your best guess at how much the item is worth but most things are pretty cheap. This is Morocco.
Don’t feel obliged because they’ve pulled down 20 carpets from the top shelf, don’t feel like you have to buy something because you were there for 5 minutes, and don’t take it personally if they get aggressive – as long as you’re respectful to them it’s their problem and their problem alone if they lose their temper. Go and buy from someone nicer.
When Not to Bargain
You don’t bargain when you’re buying a bottle of water in a shop, or in a restaurant, or when buying fruit from some old guy with his stall. These aren’t the sharks who take advantage of tourists in Morocco; they’re just ordinary people trying to make a living and they have better things to do than listen to you offer them a deal for a kilo of oranges.