The Art of Haggling

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October 6th 2006
Published: October 7th 2006
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Traditional tea kettle
I thought that I would take this blog and talk all about bargaining and the markets. While traveling, one will often spend a good amount of time around the markets - buying souvenirs for loved ones at home (or just roaming the streets). I know that Haley and I have spent a ton of time in the back streets of Morocco hunting down the most unique gifts at the lowest prices possible. Not only is it really nice to have things to bring home from exotic places …. haggling for the lowest price is pretty damn fun. And I will say - I have gotten pretty damn good at it (or at least I think so - I guess I will never really know what the lowest possible price is).

A few general notes about haggling: Each country / geographical region is different. I know that when I was in Central America, people would haggle with you for what seemed like hours. You could say “no” a hundred times but they would still chase you down the street asking you for “last price”. In Central America the sellers would often start with a really inflated starting price and you would

have to counter with a really low offering…and then you would work your way to a happy medium (well not a medium more like 1/4th).

It has been a while but I remember while in Egypt (Chad and family can attest) the haggling was really animated. The sellers would hold their chest yelling in pain saying that you are breaking their heart (and would expect you to do similar)

Parts of South East Asia where much different (especially when coming from Central America) they didn’t seem to enjoy haggling as much. And would often not bargain - or just name a price close to the actually selling price. If you countered with too low of an offer they would get offended and not sell anything to you.

Morocco seems to be similar to Central America - the sellers will really try to push their luck and give you a really high first offer. Then of course you need to counter with a low bid. But not too low or they wont except it and you’ll have to make another offer. Part of the trick is to avoid adjusting your price too often. Or at least getting them
Old ManOld ManOld Man

Old and Weathered
to adjust there price every time you do. Here is an example of a typical transaction

Seller: “Hello, Bonjour, Hola”
Seller: “Are you English?”
Me: (I’m still ignoring him)
Seller: Take a look, no buy just look. Where are you from? England, Germany?
Me: America (or Australia or Germany or South Africa ...depending on my mood)
(I have already spotted what I want to buy but I don’t want to give any hint to the fact that I want this item…I am looking at everything else.)
Me: How much for xxx (some other random item….something that should be in the same price range as what I secretly want)
Seller: “I give you good price!” “Today good day”
Seller: “500”
Me: “Woooo too much, how much for this other thing (the thing I really want)”
Seller: “ok ok I give you family price, 450”
Me: “no I don’t want it….” (Leave the shop and start looking at stuff out front (apposed to inside)
Seller: Ok what is your price?
Me: “too much, I pay 100”
(note: I always tend to say 100 less then I really

want to spend. There for my first offer will be lets say 100, then he will laugh and I will tell him that his price was too high, then if things go according to plan he will make a big drop. Then I will make my biggest increase (lets say to 150…and then we will haggle over 10’s until we converge at 200….)

This goes on for ever…the seller is always trying to get you to up your price by saying “give me your best price” “give me your last price” and I am always trying to get a new price from him “give me a real price” “I don’t need this” “give me last price”. One nice little trick I learned is to make the same offer twice, but pretend like it is a new offer. The goal is to get him to drop his price twice without you increasing yours). It also helps to have Haley with me. One of us can play the good cop (normally her) and one of us can play the bad cop (me)…this works really well. We have the routine down! I will end this with some random notes about our haggling


Often times when we leave a store the sellers are mad and in a bad mood…that makes us happy - we know we got a good deal if we can piss off the sales man. I can’t tell you how many times I have been called a Berber Man (I think this means frugal or cheap) I love that as well!

Sellers LOVE gifts / presents. If you are close to a price that you want but can’t get them to lower anymore, offer a simple gift. Even a pen or a little charm or something. Haley is great with this, she was haggling with the guy forever over a price, and as soon as she offered a whole pack of gum as a gift he said “done!” She saved the carabineer that everyone has been eyeing for her biggest purchase and it worked as well.

People will randomly try to sell you drugs. And the English that they know is kind of fun. Instead of saying “Do you want some pot” You will hear “If you like to get high”…or some thing similar…it has been pretty amusing to listen to all the things these guys

come up with.

Yesterday was a big market day for us. And we have a few large purchases that we wanted to make. It was really funny because we actually sat down and talk about our game plan. About how we wanted two of a particular item but we would only let the sales person know that we wanted one until the last second..then we would demand a cheaper rate for two (it worked). Or about how we wait till right before the fast is broken to make a big purchase or late in the even just before the market closes. There are tons of tricks…and we love it!

until next time.

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funky beach

funky beach
market market


7th October 2006

Very fun!
Fun and entertaining to read, and I picked up some useful pointers. I'm a fan of markets wherever I can find them, and am looking forward to exploring some in Brazil later this month.
8th October 2006

Nice Themed Blog...
And so very true!
29th May 2007

Love it
This is one of my favourite blogs. Well done. I shall have to remember these tips if I travel further afield than I have so far! There should be a area for blogs of this nature, that describe things like this as opposed to places.

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