This is a continuation of this other article on bargaining in Morocco, so I recommend reading it first. We continue with the main weaknesses of the buyers and that our friends the traders will use without hesitation.
Show no interest
You see a product that you love and your eyes, full of excitement, cross the analytical gaze of the merchant. Congratulations: he’s going to take it personally and sell it to you as expensive as possible.
You must control your emotions: if you are going to spend half an hour in a shop, do not spend twenty minutes on the same product, let alone ask other fellow travellers to come and give their opinion.
Try to analyze what’s on offer in the store with an overview. Make it look like nothing interests you in particular. That you simply came in to take a look. And if you want to examine that product you liked so much again, you can look at another one next to it and look at it out of the corner of your eye. It may seem like an exaggeration, but the shopkeepers are constantly analysing us to find out what your intentions are.
This reminds me of a strategy that, although risky, is effective if it is well executed: ask for something that you know in advance that you do not want. You will have a certain advantage in bargaining because you have absolutely no interest in it and you must conclude by proposing a price so low that you know in advance that it will not give in.
In the absence of an agreement you should look unwillingly and leave the shop; he may think you are trying to set a trap for him, but I assure you that as soon as he sees you approach the doorway his nervousness about a failed sale will outweigh his reasoning.
He will ask you to come back, lowering the price of the product again, to which you will politely refuse. Then, with a slight glance back at the shop and a slight disinterest, you will point out to him the product you really want. The shopkeeper, at the risk of having wasted his time without making any profit, will start with a much lower price.
The trader may realize your strategy, or even try to make a joint sale for both products. But if you’re cold-blooded enough, he may become your ace in the hole.
Lack of time is your enemy
Probably the biggest difference between a merchant and traveler is that we only have some free time for shopping during our vacation and they have all the time in the world.
Therefore, if you are going to buy, try not to do it when the weather plays against you or, if there is no other choice, hide it. Never show impatience, or you will be sold out. And if you have enough time, don’t hesitate to go into different shops and ask for prices. Once you have done your market research, you can go to the store where the product was offered the lowest to start the bargaining.
On the other hand, the lack of time can be your ally, provided that you accompany it with a marked lack of interest. For example, if it’s your last day in town, it might be a good idea to make it clear. If the merchant understands that he may lose a sale because you are not coming back, he will think it is better to sell at a lower price than not to sell at all.
In one way or another, and independently of your attitude, intention and time available, this indicative list of prices in Morocco will surely be useful.
Bargaining in Morocco at the Marrakech market
In Marrakech, You will probably be approached by someone offering to help you with the bargaining, either by suggesting a price or by taking you to a friend’s or relative’s shop that has better prices. You should never listen: one of the main sources of income for Moroccans is commissions, and therefore the more people involved in a purchase, the more the final price will become expensive.
Similarly, if a local guide suggests you go into a shop on a visit, have no doubt that he will receive a commission and therefore less chance of haggling.
Do not set a price
And we arrive at what is probably the biggest dilemma and the one that generates the most discussions: What do we do with the price initially proposed by the merchant? Do we offer him half, a quarter, …?
It is often said that what the merchant proposes will be approximately three times the price we should aspire to. I humbly do not think this statement is correct, because the trader’s initial offer will be based on his analysis of the situation and will always be different.
And I say this from experience: one of my greatest pleasures is to sit in a café near a shop and secretly analyse what is going on there. I have been able to see how the initial offer made to a traveller was twice, three times or even four times as much as to another traveller a few minutes earlier, simply because the shopkeeper felt that he could earn more money.
Moreover, when you suggest a price, three things can happen:
a) That it is exactly the minimum price at which he is willing to sell it (which would be a coincidence, but anything can happen). Then, with almost total probability, he will offer you an intermediate price and the haggling will begin. In other words, you will pay more than the bill
(b) That it is higher than the minimum price the merchant intended to offer. See then point a and add a few more dirhams
(c) That it is below the minimum price. This is the only possibility that offers an advantage when it comes to haggling, although if you go too far you may think it is not worth haggling with you.
Most of the time you will not have an advantage. My advice is to keep in mind how much you want to spend, and keep it to yourself. And under no circumstances should you tell the merchant, even if he insists (he will).
Then he will progressively lower his initial offer, each time with a smaller discount. You can start with 70 dirhams, continue with 50, then 40, then 35, then 30, then 27,… Do you see what I’m getting at? He will probably find it profitable to sell it for 25 or even 20 dirhams: that is when you should offer him 20, which he will agree to or offer you 25.
Enjoy your shopping
I don’t want to leave without pointing out something that tends to be ignored: buying a product should be satisfying. There is no point in listening to someone who claims that he, as an experienced traveller, would have got it at a better price (and believe me, in every group there is such a person). If you have bought it at a certain price, it is because two things have happened: you liked the product and that the price seemed fair to you. Why get upset thinking that you could have obtained it at a lower cost
Once you have obtained your precious treasure, don’t give it any more thought. It is your purchase, your souvenir, your well-deserved reward for a hard bargaining process, and you deserve to enjoy it to the fullest.