Sunday, January 23, 2011
For you, I make good price. For everyone else, I make bad price.
Buying a rug 2005
Megan: Don't buy a rug in Fez. They are much less expensive in Rabat.
Guide: Let me show you this rug shop.
SH, Me: No, we are not interested in buying a rug. Oh, that's a nice one. But no.
Rug salesman: For you, I make good price.
Us: How much does a rug like this cost?
RS: Would you like some tea?
Us: No. What does the rug cost? We don't want a rug.
RS: Look at this one. [Snaps his fingers as assistants unroll rug after rug.]
[One hour later)
Me: How much would this one cost?
RS: Five thousand dollars.
Us: One cannot pay that price. Goodbye.
S: Please. Give to me a price.
Us: No, one's price would be to insult.
RS: Please. Just tell me. I give you a number, now you give me a number.
Us: OK. One thousand dollars. [We are so clever, giving such a lowball price!]
[One more hour later]
RS: I must sell a rug. Look, today I get the bill from my son´s school. [Shows us a fax from Penn. Penn!]
Us: One cannot pay more than 1000 for the rug. Goodbye. [We start to walk out.]
RS: OK, OK. Twelve hundred dollars. That is my best offer.
[By now we love the rug and have committed two hours to negotiating about it. OK, maybe 40 minutes, but it felt like two hours.]
[Back in Rabat at the artesanal workshop, where all the products have price tags.]
Me: Look! That´s like the rug we got.
SH: Stop. Don't come any closer.
Me: Why not?
SH: You really, really do not want to see the price tag. Just trust me on this.
Buying a rug 2008
Megan: Let me take you to the good rug guys here in Rabat.
Megan: This is my friend Liz. She was a Peace Corps volunteer here and she worked with the rug guys.
Us: Cool. Now we shop.
[We find the only -- the only -- rug in the Rabat medina that is the design we like that has the apparently non-standard measurements we need for our dining room. We even find an internet cafe to check the tax records for the dimensions of the room to make sure we calculated properly. The seller does not know he has the only rug with the proper dimensions. We are not going to tell him.]
Us: How much for this beautiful rug that we looked at 30 minutes ago and now have come to see again? [We are so shrewd.]
Seller: 5,500 dirhams. But for you, I make good price.
Us: Hmm. [Remembering Liz's advice, we scratch the underside of the rug to check the tightness of the knots -- as if we know what we are doing -- and begin to point out the flaws.]
Seller: For you, 5000 dh. [About 550 dollars]
Us: One does not know. It must to think.
Seller: Is not much for you.
Us: Yes, is much for us! It must to think about to spend so much money.
Seller: You like?
Us: Is very pretty. One might like it.
Us: Excuse me. [I call Liz.] Liz, how much should we pay for this rug? [I answer her questions about the pattern and size.]
Liz: Offer him 3000 dh. Don't pay more than 4000 dh.
Us: One would pay 3000 for this.
Seller: No! This is all made at hand. This is an item authentic. It has a value far more than 3000 dh. It is not possible to sell this rug for only 3000. Look at the work! Look at the materials! This is wool from sheep! This is Berber!
Seller: No, no, no. It is not possible.
Seller: I make you the price final. Below this, it is impossible to go. Four thousand. Price final.