Treat the internet as a scare-mongering, fear-inducing friend when it comes to researching more or less ANYTHING to do with travel in Morocco. Read the horror stories, gasp at the inordinate levels of hassle that ALL travellers become victims of, terrify yourself with the amount you will be ripped off and how everyone in the Marrakech medina will follow you continually ALL week wherever you go. All of them. At the same time.
Or... enjoy the online drama and move on - you are going to Bargain Like a Boss collecting terracotta worldly treasures and glittery tidbits at a fraction of the asking price.
1. DON"T FALL IN LOVE WITH STUFF... OR YOU WILL PAY DEARLY ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD.
Doesn't this go for everything? Even when the price is fixed. You fall in love with a pair of shoes in say *London* - they are expensive. You spend more time viewing them than say a house that you may wish to live in. These shoes will Change Your Life and Bring You Untold Luck and Riches. They are expensive. You are in love with them. Your brain cleverly convinces you that they are worth the investment. You wear them once, for 10 minutes, before changing back into your flip-flops. You ripped yourself off and have no one else to blame.
In Morocco, the difference is - in the markets - nothing has a fixed price. So HOW is it even remotely possible that someone else can rip you off? You CHOOSE the price you want to pay.
Many blogs and travel advice sites will provide you with a helpful algorithm to work out how much you should pay - half the price the seller tells you, divide it by 2 and add a third more and that is what you should pay... and there you are, glass of hospitable tea in hand in the markets with the most glorious bedspread for the buying and frankly, like that pair of shoes - YOU"LL PAY ANYTHING for it. That is the crux - that is the rip-off turning point. But it is not the seller's fault. It is YOURS. You will be paying the price of LOVE, not the price you think the product is worth.
The seller is valuing YOU - what can you pay; Your job is to value the PRODUCT and no more.
Once you have decided what you believe the product to be worth - either stick to it, or decide if you are willing to pay a little more if you are beginning to have feelings for it. But if you have paid more than you wanted to, it is because you have chosen to.
2. WALK AWAY - IT"S NOT RUDE!
Well, it is in certain situations obviously, but not when the glorious bedspread is more expensive than you are willing to pay. You may find that the vendor will walk after you and accept your final offer. But if not, you will find a similar glorious bedspread a few boutiques down.
Think of it as the 'Bargain Dance'. Walking away is the finale leading to the sequel, and the vendor running after you, the twist in the tale. It is absolutely customary to do this if you don't agree on a price, and not considered rude at all (though do say goodbye (b'slama) and thank you 'shokrun')
3. CREATE YOUR OWN SALE
A true luxury. You can't go into aforementioned shoe shop and demand a sale because you can't afford the asking price. But you can in Morocco. If you want to buy 2 glorious bedspreads - then sell to the seller! Sell your idea that because you are buying two, it should be significantly cheaper. Or, ask for a going home present and end up with 2 glorious bedspreads and a small wooden camel. Be creative!
4. YOU DON"T NEED A SLIPPER BROKER
Anyone who stops you on the street to tell you that they know the cheapest place in town for sequinned Moroccan slippers (babouches) will take a commission from anything you buy so it will end up more expensive than if you just do it yourself. VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: This is NOT evil and neither is it theft. You have unwittingly employed a middle-man, a broker. And brokers all over the world, be they in suits in shiny offices, or wearing wacky t-shirts and talking to you about contributing by direct debit to charity - make a commission. So, very simply - say 'No thank you (la shokrun) and move on. You are quite capable of sourcing your own sequinned Moroccan slippers without the help of a broker.
6. BE REALISTIC
Moroccan peopIe will pay less than you. And they should. Salaries in Morocco are significantly lower than say in Europe or America, and unemployment is very, very high. Is it worth getting stressed out about an extra 10MAD (1 euro). Is it? If it is, that's fine. Everyone in the world needs to feed their families and make a living. So whilst you may not need that broker, he (and it is nearly always a 'he'), is making a living. The vendors obviously wants to get the highest price they can in a 'no-fixed price' culture, and you probably would too.
Any main tourist area (and I say 'area' rather than 'trap' - you are not trapped - there are no bars) will cost more than a residential neighbourhood or high street (A lighter costs about £3 in central London and 70p in random suburbs) - and don't even get me started on the price of a coffee in St. Marks Square, Venice... You will find cheaper prices for good the further away you are from place D'Jeema el Fna - explore a little!
7. RUG SHOPPING
Not even going there. That is a whole new level of BOSS-ness and deserves an entire post to itself. GOOD LUCK!