The Art of the Moroccan Haggle

The mere notion of dickering over a price may induce anxiety in many Westerners, especially those of us who can barely muster the small talk we’re forced to make with sales associates while waiting for a credit card transaction to go through. However, haggling is intrinsically woven into the local culture in Morocco, and it’s a serious courtship: pay the first price, and you’ve offended the vendor by diminishing the value of their livelihood. But offer too little, and you’ll be shooed away for offending the vendor’s entire family with your cheapness…these guys are more dramatic than a Real Housewives reunion special, but their theatrics are also equally staged! Once you learn to dance the dance, it’s actually fun.

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Here are a few tips to haggle like a Berber:

  • First things first: Haggling is a conversation meant to bond the buyer and seller, not a belittling negotiation showdown. Laugh, smile and have fun!
  • After asking about the price, prepare to counter with a tenth to half of what you’re offered (then have your offer laughed at – it’s just part of the game). Some vendors really jack up the price for tourists, so use common sense to decide if you even want to begin the negotiation.
  • Be serious: don’t start haggling if you’re not ready to buy.
  • Keep a poker face even if what you’re buying is God’s gift to your personal universe…if the vendor knows you love it, you’ve already lost the game.
  • Try haggling over a cheaper permutation of what you’re actually after, then offer to pay the vendor his ‘final price’ for the better item you actually wanted.
  • If you’re truly not prepared to pay the vendor’s final offer…walk away. That may be all it takes to tip the scales in your favour.

Whatever you ultimately pay, be happy for the price and grateful for the memories your souvenir will bring, rather than the additional few dollars you may have saved by haggling a little harder. And hey, if the art of the haggle isn’t your thing, our OUT Adventures Local Guide can recommend a set-price shop where you might pay a bit more, but you can spend your time pondering the quality of the merchandise rather than the price to be paid.

Come haggle like a Berber with us in Morocco this September or April on our Moroccan Souks & Sand Gay Tour.

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