August 20, 2010

Shopping In Egypt

The thing about shopping in Egypt, is the prices in most shops aren't set. I could pay 100LE for the same item someone else payed 90 for and yet another person payed 150 for the very same item. It just doesn't seem fair to me.

When you ask for the price of an item, the shop keeper can decide what s/he wants to charge for it, in that moment. Depending on how you look or where your from the price can range from reasonable to outrageous. I've seen foreigners get ripped of more times than I can count and that's when they haggle, even! Of course this doesn't apply to big stores like Carrefour, Spinney's etc, or brand name chains. There are even small some shops here that have set price stickers on every item, but they aren't the norm.

I've learned to bargain with shopkeepers after paying the quoted price when I first got here. Man, was that stupid. The guy would say 30 LE and I'd take out the cash and pay it! Laughable! You don't even take your wallet out, you have to agree on a price first, and you'd better not act like you're in love with the item in question.

This past week I went to get a dress for Zayneb for Eid. We stepped into a shop and right away I spotted a pretty dress amongst the gawdiness that surrounded us. I pulled it out and asked the woman how much? She said 130LE. Zayneb loved it, and was excited to tried it on. Perfect fit. She was so happy to find a dress she loved. She's in that in-between age where clothes in children's shops don't fit anymore and women's dresses are too long or not a style for younger girls. No Junior's So I go to pay and she says 140. I say, you said 130 before. She swore she didn't I'm kind of mad at myself for not fighting it but she loved the dress and I just paid the 140 and left. She kept trying to push more stuff at us, I just thought I'd misheard her and that in the end there's no price sticker on the tag. Zayneb later told me she heard 130 at first too. I'm kicking myself, not for the 10LE, but for not being more assertive but that's something I'm working on. Other people I know would just leave 130 on the table, take the dress and leave. Or start to leave, hoping for a price break, but I knew we wanted that dress.


That little incident just further cemented my opinion that shop owners here are rarely honest and it doesn't matter if she's wearing a scarf or that it's Ramadan. They will always charge you as much as they think they can get out of you. If it had been a European tourist coming into the shop they might have paid 200 or more for the very dress.

The funny part is so many of them tout "It's not Egyptian" as such a big selling point! Hey! It's not Egyptian, so you know it's good!

Some here argue that it's the shop owner's right to charge what s/he wants and if the client agrees and pays it, that's their problem. They agreed and paid. I say things should cost X amount of pounds and it should X for everyone. It's just not honest business otherwise.


  1. Cute dress :)

    It used to really annoy me but in the end I had fun bargaining. I used to just walk away (they'd call back) or say I was offered the same thing elsewhere for the price I wanted to pay. If an Egyptian had bought before me I'd let them know I understood Arabic and how much the person before me paid too.

    I don't think it's fair how you don't pay for what the item is worth, you pay how much they think you can afford.

  2. Anonymous5:51 AM

    I would have a hard time with the bargaining too Mona. There are times you just don't want to go thru the hassle I'm sure. It is the same way in Mexico too.

    That is a terrific dress btw! She looks lovely, just like her mother.


  3. i hate the whole haggling thing. because i'm always dupped.

    your daughters dress is beautiful!

  4. mashaAllah, that's a very pretty dress and your daughter is beautiful mashaAllah.

    how much is 10 LE in euros?

  5. Jaz, I enjoy it sometimes. It can be a thrill if you get a good deal.

    Lizze, Yea sometimes I'm just in no mood. Thanks :)

    Angie Nader, Thanks, Yea it's a pain.

    Oldie Goldie, thanks. It's only about 1.38 euros.

  6. mashaAllah your daughter is such a cutey!

    I bargain all of the time (even though its not common in oz). Its always worth a try!

  7. Ramadan Mubarak Mona, this is a gorgeous dress. I love it. I would also be annoyed if I was quoted one price and then a higher one just because I like the product. So not fair but your daughter's smile makes it all worse it.

  8. I'm never good at bargaining. Usually I'll just pay the amount people ask. If I think it's ridiculous, I'll just walk away & they'll somehow reduce the price for me. LoL~ Your daughter looks really beautiful there! :)

  9. Naseeeeeem6:39 AM

    Loving the teal!

  10. be sure to check my blog in the next few days for your feature :-)

  11. Assalamu'alaikum!

    Subhanallah, that is pretty annoying. I just recently visited Dearborn, Michigan. I believe it is the most heavily concentrated Arab/Muslim area in the U.S. Well, I didn't realize it then, but when I got home, I really got jipped for the scarves I bought. They are beautiful, but the same quality can be bought at Century 21 for half the price.

    It bothers me so much! I think everything should be labeled. It's actually a part of our religion to charge a fair price. I'm sure it's not even Islamic practice to charge different prices for the same product.

    Islam is supposed to be about honesty and justice. Business was done based on this concept. The Muslim Ummah suffers because of dishonesty such as this. Of course, many other factors play into this, but it is a major part. When I go back to Pakistan, I have this problem and even worse. It's disgusting.

  12. ehhh tell me bout it. my friends mom went to Egypt to visit and right of the bat she got charged $60 from the airport to the hotel. worst part, she paid in dollars, and the ride was only like 5 minutes. Welcome to Egypt!!


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