There are lots of different ways to get hustled. This is not to say that everyone is out to hustle you.  Usually it's just the young men in their 20's or the shop owners.  Even some people in these categories were kind, helpful and fair.  Here are some different ways I've observed people trying to hustle or scam you:

  • Someone walks you to your destination when you ask for help finding it. There is an 80% chance they expect to be paid 10 to 20 dh.
  • Someone recommends a restaurant to you, usually because they get a commission or it's a friends business.
  • When someone walks you somewhere, they stop by some shops not to help you out, but to help out a friends business or to get commission.
  • A friendly person strikes up a conversation asking you where you're from and how you're enjoying your stay, and then humbly suggests a Riad to stay at, or a tour guide or a restaurant to check out, but they're actually just trying to promote those businesses.
  • As you pass by shops, people will say  "Hey where you from?", not because they care, but because they want to get you to stop, and suck you into a short exchange before asking you to check out their shop.  Don't feel bad about ignoring their calls, because they don't call you out of sincere interest, they call out to you to drain your pockets, and they're used to being ignored.  You're just another dollar sign to them.
  • Someone may provide you with a little supply of something, for example some tissue or masking tape, they may even ask for money for that.
  • You may be invited to take some pictures, but you will be asked to pay. Then when you do, they'll tell you that's not enough.  Avoid this by avoiding a picture, taking a picture from a distance even though they have eyes like a hawk, or agree on an amount before.  If they ask you for more after you pay, be firm and say that you agreed on an amount.
  • You purchase something and they don't give you your full change back.  In cases like this, don't get angry, just tell them you want the full change back and wait until they give it to you. Tell them that's not what you agreed to.  Don't get into an argument.  Don't move away.  Stare at them until they give it back.  Usually they'll give it back to you because they'll realize you're not a sucker.  If they really insist, just say you'll go speak to the tourist police right now.  People there are scared of the tourist police.
  • They mark up the price on products for double the amount.
  • They tell you that the products are hand made when it is machine made or that they made it when they just bought it off of someone else.  I bought a leather bag in Rabat with specific, detailed, designs on it.  They told me they made it.  I believed them since the guy was sewing leather together in the back.  I saw the same bag in Marrakech for sale.  Clearly not one of a kind.
  • Sometimes at food stands they'll over-calculate how much you owe, so ensure you've taken good note of how much everything costs in total before giving the menu back.

I personally found it quite telling when we walked down the streets of the medina after leaving our Riad, and a little boy saw us and kept saying "money, money, money, money...".  He wasn't asking for any, he just kept repeating the word.  That's the way some people view Westerners.  Some think we have money to blow.  In some respects we do, after all, we were able to pay our way this far, but how we spend that money is at our discretion, not theirs. 

They expect you to spend big bucks, but don't be scared or intimidated when they pressure you or nag you or try to scam you.  They see you as a sucker to be taken advantage of.  Be firm, confident and wise and have an attitude of "please, I'm not falling for that" and they'll soon leave you alone.  When they are trying to scam you, just look at them like "Please, don't be silly!"

Here are EXCELLENT videos on scams in Marrakech:

1 comment:

  1. Great article, thanks for the tips! With the Sahara desert, interesting Mosque architecture, riads, Medinas, mint tea and many more, Morocco is a place not to be missed. However, there are numerous tourist targeted scams to be wary of.

    Do be wary of the visa scam, coin collectors, scam orphanages, Angkor Watt touts, incense/prayer scam, Tonle Sap floating village rice scam, milk/food beggar, pickpocketing, snatch theft, invitations to a local home for gambling, tuk tuk scam, rape accusation, fake police and many more!