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Being Overcharged as a Foreigner in Morocco

moroccan souq in agadir

We all know how frustrating it can be when Moroccan sellers spot you as a foreigner and try to charge you extra, simply because you’re not from around here.

Why, you ask?

Well, it’s a common misconception that outsiders, or ‘brraa’, as Moroccans like to say, are LOADED with cash.

And there’s probably a good reason for this.

Lots of expats arriving in Morocco start off thinking, “Wow, everything is so cheap!”

Hold on a second!

While it might not be too obvious at first, over time, this extra spending can really add up. When you make Morocco your home, try not to think in pounds, euros, or dollars!

Instead, adopt the Moroccan way of thinking and living.

Not EVERYWHERE in Morocco you’re expected to haggle

While haggling is deeply rooted in Moroccan culture, you don’t have to negotiate at every single place you visit.

Many places in Morocco have fixed prices, such as:

  • Restaurants
  • Supermarkets
  • Small shops (hanut)
  • Vegetables and fruit stalls

You don’t have to worry about being thrown tourist prices in there.

On the other hand, let’s look at some common places where you’re expected to haggle:

  • Souvenirs shop
  • Fabric shop
  • Second hand stalls
  • Place where they sell traditional Moroccan items such as tea pots and tagines

Not everyone is out there to rip you off

It’s important to know that NOT ALL Moroccan sellers are out to rip you off.

There are many honest Moroccans I know who have AMAZING work ethics, and won’t treat you unfairly just because you’re a foreigner.

Also, it’s in the Moroccan culture to haggle. The first price they quote is NOT the final price.

So even if you were given the initial price, and topped 50 dirhams on top of it because you’re a foreigner, you can still negotiate.

With a bit of skill, you can often reach a mutually agreeable price through negotiation!

If you’re someone who’s not used to haggling, you might find it uncomfortable in the beginning, but trust me – with practice, it becomes second nature.

When dealing with Moroccans, you have to be diplomatic

As annoying as it may be, there is a SMART way to respond to being overcharged.

No, don’t roll your eyes and walk away.

And no, don’t accuse them of trying to rip you off either.

You have to be DIP-LO-MA-TIQUE.

As much as I like to be upfront and cut to the chase, my Moroccan father likes to tell me that when dealing with people, you have to go the roundabout way.

And when dealing with sellers, I can agree with him.

So instead of telling them, “But this is normally 150 dirhams,” you have to let them know you know the going price indirectly.

“Hmmm, it’s a bit expensive, no?”

“Isn’t there a cheaper one?”

How to encourage Moroccan sellers to offer local pricing

There are many tactics you can use to get them bring down the price to your satisfaction.

Here are some:

  • Not coming to the souq with anything ‘expensive’ (like a Gucci pushchair or something)
  • Approaching the seller with a friendly tone
  • Being well-informed about the standard pricing beforehand
  • Inspect the goods you’re interested in and point out any imperfections
  • Being polite, calm and nice throughout

And surprising them with some Darija not only makes them happy that you’re speaking their lingo, but also leads them to believe that you are familiar with the local pricing.

Many Moroccans are nice to my mum, because she tries her best to communicate with them in Darija.

Although she struggles with the pronounciation sometimes, or don’t know how to say certain stuff, they geniuenely appreciate her efforts, and therefore make sure she leaves happy.

Here are some Darija you can use:

What’s the price?b’sh’7al ‘ttaman?بْشْحاَلْ الثَّمَنْ؟
It’s a bit expensive.ghaali shwiyyaغَالِي شْوِيَّى
Isn’t there a cheaper one?makaaynsh li rekhes?مَكَايْنْش لِرْخْصْ؟
Give me a discount, please.nqes ‘ttaman shwiyya, 3affakنْقْصْ الثَّمَنْ شْوِيَّى, عَافَاكْ
Give me the last price.3teeni aakhir ‘ttamanعْطِينِي آخْرْ الثّمَنْ
I don’t have a lot.maa 3endiish bzzaafمَاعْنْدِيشْ بْزَّافْ
Thank you so much.shokran bzzaafشُكْرًا بْزِّافْ
May Allah have mercy on your parents!Allah yerhem waalidiinاللّه يْرْحْم وَالِيدِينْ
For future project, I want to incorporate sounds on the darija words and phrases I share on this blog, insha’Allah!

To get a good grasp on the pronounciation, you can watch and listen to Naelle’s video, on “How I pretend to speak darija”.

If the price still doesn’t feel right after you initial attempts, be prepared to walk away.

I swear, almost everytime, this encourages the seller to offer a better deal.

Even though sometimes, I’m just window shopping!

So, I just tell them, “Next time, insha’Allah.”

Although, they probably know they won’t be seeing me again.

‘I don’t mind paying more’

Some sisters I’ve spoken to, masha’Allah, have shared that they don’t mind being overcharged, may Allah reward them!

And trust me, I know where you’re coming from.

Yes, many people in Morocco don’t have much and are trying their best to support their families, which is commendable.

This effort stands out, especially when contrasted with others who have chosen begging as their way of life.

Read post:

But at the same time, it’s still a bit unfair to charge people differently just because they don’t know better or ‘must be rich coming from abroad’.

Many of us coming from the West are not necessarily well off and have a fortune in savings!

And some have come to Morocco with little savings, striving to make ends meet while building a business with no other income.

Having the option to give when you can is certainly better than resigning yourself to perpetual overcharging.

Practice makes progress

If there’s one thing I emphasise the most is the importance of knowing some Darija phrases for the marketplace.

When you’re confident, it makes your souq experience far more enjoyable and pleasant.

Unlike before, you can now learn Darija anywhere!

There are SO many Moroccan tutors on Preply who can help you learn and practice haggling.

Learn Darija / Moroccan Arabic on Preply With Moroccan Tutors Online

You don’t have to be fluent in Darija to be treated like a local.

However, investing in learning some phrases for different situations can truly make a significant difference in your new life in Morocco, insha’Allah.


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