In the medinas and souks of Morocco, you can begin to feel like a bone between a pack of dogs...
With everything imaginable for sale and a city full of people selling it to you, something will take your fancy. When this moment comes, knowing how to deal with it is very important!
Before we go any further, we want to make this clear: Don't ever feel obliged to buy something, if you don't like it, don't buy it. Ignore the guilt trips and the aggressive selling tactics.
Don't let these master salesmen play with your mind - control the situation.
1. Take your time
It is good to get an idea for how much certain items should cost. The prices you will be told are as close to random as a profitable business can get. Speak to backpackers, locals, people at your guest house, just be wary of asking (teasing) shop keepers without the intention to buy.
2. Avoid eye contact
In Moroccan culture it is disrespectful to make eye contact with some one you have never met. This level of openness displayed with a stranger can make people uneasy. On the streets of the medinas, your openness can be taken advantage of.
Being polite is one thing, but don't give the impression you'll buy every item on display with your kindness.
3. Play it cool!
It does not matter if you are being sold gold for grapes, if you express your love for something, you leave yourself in a vulnerable bargaining position. Remember that in the medinas you find similar or the same products in many stores, so take advantage of this.
Trying to haggle a price to one-tenth of the initial offer can be difficult so try to get a low offer to start.
4. Start at half your final price
Having looked at it for a while, offer half of your ideal price and insist that this is your budget for the day finished. Then try to hold your ground as much as you can!
Even if an offer 10 times yours is returned, do not be put off. This is just the way they haggle. Usually, they will come down a lot more than you go up.
5. Walk away
This technique actually works particularly well, especially in Fes where shopkeepers are keen to sell due to so much competition.
If the price isn't getting any lower and your haggling skills are wearing off, apologise and walk away. You will see that they will instantly drop the price. Wait as the price keeps dropping. Maybe go for a mint tea or a Berber Whiskey and return to hear even lower prices!
6. Do not make promises you cant keep
If you really aren't interested, don't buy it and don't promise to later. The entrepreneurs of the Moroccan medinas will remember not only your face, but the clothes you wear and the people you are with. If you don't want a bad name around town, stick to your promises if you do make them.
During your shopping adventures and exploration of the medinas in Morocco you will find everything imaginable. Get sucked in, get lost, but remember these 5 lessons and you will get good deals and meet good friends in the old medinas! They all appreciate a good haggler!