Analysis of Arabic street tout’s aggressive sales technique

An Egyptian tout observed to attempt at granting tourists access to prohibited sections of the temple in exchange for bakshee(bribe).

The method


always go after the independent individual who looks foreign. We will term this individual as the mark in the rest of the passage.

Appearance of vulnerability such as looking at maps, guide book or just simply looking lost is a bonus.

Following the three second rule is extremely important. Approaching the mark after 3 seconds of visual contact will simply come across as dodgy.

Show interest to establish rapport

New comers not understanding the lay of the land will generally be more open to folks that have been around for a while.

Establish credibility

This can be done by demonstrating that you are an official (or maybe not). Flashing a badge or just simply sounding sure if what you say might suffice. On occasions, expression of anger or aggression might work too. This taps into one of the many cognitive biases inherent in humans known as the Authority bias.

At this point if the mark is new to the territory of just simply new to the context you set you could explore the availability bias, another cognitive bias inherent in the humans. Without any readily available data to counter the data points you are providing, the mark will likely take your word at face value.

Demonstrate value

This is the most important step in the value extraction phase. Offer to something that the mark might find useful. Manually onboard the mark to the token of value, be it writing their name to the souvenir you are trying to sell or putting the hat on for them.

This action taps into the loss aversion cognitive bias.

Elicit empathy

This step will only work effectively, if you have done the step well. Tell a story of loss, such as your wife and kids need to eat or your sister is getting married. As for a token of appreciation in exchange. The common phrase utilized is “ a gift from your heart”. This step takes into the reciprocity cognitive bias.

Assume moral high ground

If the previous two steps were well executed you can effectively step into this frame if the mark refuses your request. In most circumstances , the mark should concede to some exchange.

The neutralization

Method 1 – just walk away

Simply ignore the approach. Do not at any point engage in any conversation. Even if it is as innocent as replying to tell them where you are from. This starts a mini exchange process which quickly escalated into the above routine.

Method 2 – the exploitation

To successfully execute upon this method, you will need to have build up a high threshold for managing sensation in the body. At the stage where the tout takes moral higher ground, express empathy for the person’s plight and just simply stop at the action and no more. The tout know this as well as you do that this is a show, it is unlikely the tout will escalate this exercise into anything more aggressive than words. You can walk away after experiencing the *favor*

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