In Morocco, and now in Tanzania, you haggle for prices with a lot of the street venders. Haggling is where both participants, both the buyer and the seller, haggle/argue over the price of something. Many of the locals know how to haggle effectively and respectfully, though many tourists are not adept in the art of haggling.

We try to haggle respectfully. We do it gently and enough to get a good deal. Many restaurants or hotels are focused on tourist customers, so they do not expect haggling. That’s why at restaurants, we usually look at the prices, and decide there if we like the prices or not. We don’t haggle, but we might just turn around and leave, and then the owner would call out at us and maybe give us a better deal.

During haggling, we kind of just nudge at the price, lowering it to what we think is fair. The seller could object to the new price, and so on, until it is a win/win situation for both sides.

Haggling is just naturally part of the culture here and in many other parts of the world, and it is good for tourists like us to engage in that. It can help us understand and experience more of the culture, just by haggling for a fair price.

The problem is that some tourists just don’t haggle at all. When somebody offers a price, they expect it to be bargained down. Some tourists down just don’t want to haggle, while others probably don’t even know that it is part of the culture.

Not haggling at all has its ups and downs. Yes, if you just pay you price that was offered, even if it is high, then you are being quite generous to the shopkeeper, but that might make them think that all tourists are like you. It could lead to higher prices just in general, and would make everything more expensive, which makes it more difficult for the locals to buy the things they need, because the shopkeepers are saving the stuff for the tourists.dd Plus, not haggling is not interacting with the people, and interacting with the locals here is very useful and can really help you understand about the culture.

Other people are the opposite of the non-hagglers. Some people, mostly tourists, sometimes almost view haggling and bargaining as a sport. They will haggle aggressively, really pushing to get the best price possible. That is the goal of the game. To pay the smallest amount possible. These haggle arguments can last a long time, and usually involve the buyer pretending to walk away several times. When you see you customer get mad, or fed up (pretending or not), and then they leave (pretending or not), you panic, and desperately try to get them back over to your shop.

Aggressive haggling creates a lot of tension, and both people can get mad, and the buyer might think they are getting “ripped off.” The situation could result in the shopkeeper not getting enough money. Many tourists that haggle aggressively only do it for the fun of it, even though they are tourists, and the money doesn’t mean as much to them as it probably does to the shopkeeper.

Haggling is part of the way of life here, and I believe that it should be done respectfully, and with good intentions.

Below: A shop in Paje