This is the educational experience. We should have read up more on the culture of haggling specifically to Morocco. I'm not into that, based on my experience in Mexico, where I'd rather pay a bit more to support a family in a poor economy. It's the social worker in me. I once got too good a deal on a bracelet from hard bargaining and still feel guilty. That's the Catholic school girl in me.
On our way to the souks, the young man from last night offered to take us to his mother's spice shop where his brother was the herbalist. Right. We were introduced to a professional looking young man in a white coat. Nice conversation ensued, a matter of building trust.
He showed us a number of items and quoted very reasonable prices. Long story short, I handed over the money to the 'mother,' and immediately was told a higher price. Too late, she had my money in hand and the change was far less than I was expecting. Not a good experience. I should have listened to our private guide, Nour, from the first day and shopped for spices in the Jewish Quarter spice souk where the prices are mostly fixed.
When we left the shop our unofficial guide was still hanging around to collect his share of the profit from the shop owners. Then it dawned on us, we probably paid for C's rudeness from the previous night. Tricky business in the medina.
After researching the place on Trip Advisor we found that it's not an uncommon experience.
Chuck negotiating in the leather souk:
After buying three items of leather we had an interesting conversation with an older craftsman on how life has changed in Marakesh over the years. He was very nice and offered to design me a "banana" shoe for my interestingly shaped foot. We all got a good laugh over what that might look like.
A bookstore in the souk:
The rest of our shopping was exhausting, but not as bad, and I've learned the following from research and experience:
1. When asked is this your first time in Morocco, answer "No." Prices are different for experienced shoppers.
2. We had repeated experiences of the price going up as we handed over the money. If this happens firmly stick to the agreed upon price.
3. Check your change immediately.
4. Exchange rates are confusing. Do all your negotiating in one currency, preferable dirhams, don't be fooled if the price is quoted in different currency during the negotiations. If you feel confused, there's probably a reason.
5. Some shop keepers are rude, many are nice. We were looking at an item in a shop and noticed it was made in China. The shop owner was quite peeved when we said we were no longer interested and he insulted us right out of his stall.
6. Don't fall for the "my brother, my mother owns this shop." It's not likely a relative, and you've been taken there so they can receive a kickback that has been added to your price. Plus there's the expected tip from you for having been taken there.
7. Expect the quality excuse to be used when a shop owner thinks your offer is too low. His merchandise is of a higher quality than others. It most likely comes from the same place as the others. Or China.
This is the haggling game specific to Marrakech. Buyer beware, but it wouldn't keep me from going back. It's part of an overall positive and fascinating experience.