Marrakech (Marrakesh) is one of my favourite places to visit in all of the world. Below are a few photographs from the city.
A few words on Bartering in Marrakech
On first impressions Bartering can seem to be a bit of a frightening experience to those of us from the west who are used to fix pricing. However with a little understanding of the principles that are employed and a little practice bartering can be both fun and rewarding.
So you find yourself on Holiday wandering though a market place full of almost identical shops. Obviously each shopkeeper wants to make a sale and they want to get the highest price possible – even if that means ripping you off.
Most Shopkeepers will be experts in the art of selling their goods – after all their livelihood depends on it and the tried-and-tested salesman skills have often been passed down through the generations.
Shopkeepers may try any number of tricks to enter into a conservation with you and get you into their shop. Many will be able to speak several languages and will all have a friend from where you come from. Others may offer to help you or offer a gift – a drink or perhaps the opportunity for a photograph.
The strategy of the gift is used in all cultures and the psychology behind it is simple – when you are offered a gift you feel obliged to give the giver something in return. An old Spanish word for Thank you is ‘Obligato’ – meaning you are obligated to the other person.
Be wary of guides
In many markets abroad you may often be offered the opportunity to be shown around the market and helped with bartering by someone who just happens to be able to speak several languages. Be warned – many ‘guides’ will get a commission from shopkeepers and they will often end up taking you where they want you to buy something rather than where you actually might want to look. Some guides may even be getting a percentage of the sale.
Shopkeepers will often befriend you – compliment you, and suck up to you, maybe even offer you a ‘mates rate’. Shopkeepers need to be a friendly bunch and many may be genuinely interested in foreigners but don’t be fooled or phased by this attempt at manipulating the sale, it is just yet another tool in the salespersons kit.
Suggesting a price for the first time
The first price you are given will be offered may be many times what the shopkeeper is willing to accept for the item. Often a shop keeper will try to proclaim that their price is ‘not like in other stores which are double their price’
In all transactions that I completed in Marrakesh recently the final price was always less than a quarter of the first price offered.
A good strategy is to work out in your head what you are willing to pay (in your own currency and country) and stick to that figure. Don’t be phased.
Offer below this and work up to it but don’t pay any more. The best tactic is to barter and then just walk away. Nine times out of ten if your price is reasonable they will accept. Remember that if they don’t want your business their are plenty of other shopkeepers who may.
Take your time
If buying goods overseas it will not be possible to return faulty goods so make a complete inspection of the goods – you have less rights and will rarely get a receipt. If you do make the purchase – make sure that the item you are given is the item that you inspected.
AVOID THE HIGH PRESSURE SALES SITUATIONS
You may occasionally find yourself surrounded by people inside a shop almost intimidating you in to making a purchase. This is a common tactic which is also used in Western countries as well. If you feel uncomfortable just walk away.
Another trick may be to pester you relentlessly until you yield. In these situations you must just be firm or just walk away.
IF AN OFFER SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT PROBABLY IS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE!
Beware of the huge range of scams that you may be served up whilst shopping abroad. If an offer sounds too good to be true then it probably is just that. Don’t let the promise of untold riches end up spoiling your holiday!
Pay with small denomination values
When you exchange currency it is always best to ask for small denomination notes. It’s much easier to barter with and the shop-keepers might be able to give you some change!