Price Haggling and Negotiation Norms in Morocco
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Price Haggling and Negotiation Norms in Morocco

The markets and medinaÂ’s of Marrakesh in Morocco can seem like very intimidating places for the uninitiated to conduct business and grab a bargain during their visit. This style of haggling and negotiation into buying and selling has been conducted within these markets for centuries with not a price tag in sight.

The markets and medina’s of Marrakesh in Morocco can seem like very intimidating places for the uninitiated to conduct business and grab a bargain during their visit. This style of haggling and negotiation into buying and selling has been conducted within these markets for centuries with not a price tag in sight.

For many tourists visiting the old style carpet shops of the busy city centre they will receive a warm welcome and face many questions from the shop owner or salesperson. These questions or small talk are nothing more than attempts to find out as much about you in a short space of time to determine what the starting price for negotiations will be. Your answers therefore are very important and should not be carefully considered before you reply.

The polite questioning will usually ask where are you from, if you are from North America, Western Europe, Japan or Australia the starting price will usually be higher due to these locations having a more affluent lifestyle. Is this your first visit to Morocco if you reply yes then expect another increase in the initial quote. Also the less time you have been in the country then the higher the starting price.

The art of price haggling is like a dance that requires time to perfect it, start out with small steps or cheaper items and do not worry too much if you pay too much, just use it to learn for the next time. Always remain patient and in a good humour. A negotiation over an item like a carpet can take a few hours. Do not worry about going hungry or requiring a drink as this will usually be provided by your host. Usually a few local snacks and tea will be placed before you, on accepting these you are not obliged to make any purchases.

You will have an array of goods placed before you so that you can begin the process of elimination, if you see something you like do not show too much enthusiasm. If you are looking at carpets those that you have said no to will be removed at this point. You may be asked which one do you like, if it is morning you may hear that you are the first customer of the day and a special price can be offered as it will mean good luck. All ruses to relax you further and hopefully help you to be parted from your money.

It will then come to the stage of the negotiations over the price. It will begin with an outrageously high price. Remain calm and offer a price at a fraction of that in return. This will be met with a look of disgust or insult, do not worry this is all part of the game or dance ritual that is being conducted. You may be informed as to the quality of the workmanship and how long it took a person to make this item placed before you now. It is just a part of the ploy to make you feel guilty. If you are unmoved by this display you will receive a better price, which you should return by upping your bid accordingly. This process should continue until a mutual price agreed by both parties is met.

If you are unable to reach a mutual price you should thank the merchant for both his time and hospitality and head towards the door and make your exit. Most of the time he will make you a final offer before you are able to reach the door. If you agree to this price that is the end of negotiations and you are obliged to pay that, if you fail to agree to that price, smile to show that you are not offended and continue on your way.

To get an idea of what is a fair price visit one of the government run cooperatives before entering into the market. These have set prices where no haggling is allowed but the quality is good and the prices slightly higher than what you would expect to pay in the market or medina. Another indicator is the merchant will usually begin at two or three times higher than the price he would expect to receive for that item.

One British travel company has set up lessons on how to barter for tourists using their company to travel to and stay in Morocco. The course is however a set price and not one in which they themselves are prepared to haggle over.

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Comments (3)
Ranked #4 in Africa

Great information to know and well presented by you.

This is good information. Very useful for tourists!

Ranked #8 in Africa

Quite interesting my friend.

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