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Shopping in Tunisia

Wares and Gold - Fake products and copies

Fake Products and copies

In Tunisia, there is a large selection of falsified products ("Fakes, Copies") available, which carry a brand name, but are not manufactured or sold on behalf or with the knowledge of the trademark owners. This pertains mainly to clothing, watches, sun glasses, bags, taped cassettes, CDs and DVDs, but also cigarettes and generally cosmetic products.

Many of these products are, these days, manufactured or (sometimes illegally) imported from asian countries, namely China. Some of them could even be potentially dangerous, because they are not controlled or checked regarding safety protocols. The tunisian government has in the past years, for example, issued repeatedly public warnings for hazards from cosmetic products being bought from unauthorized sellers on the street (almost all sellers on the streets in Tunisia are actually unauthorized, "illegal", it is also called the "anarchic market").

If one buys such a product, there are no problems in Tunisia itself - however, on the entry to Europe or the Americas, not only these goods might be impounded at the customs, but the owner also might face some sort of  punishment.

If one does not want to accept this risk, leave the hands off anything with a brand name on it - and that has not been bought in a clearly identifiable authorized shop!

Since 2010, the government has a closer eye on copyright infringements.
However, since the uprising 2011, it seems that the government has now again, other priorities than to pursue fakes and copyright infringements - or, for that matter, even a quality control of merchants or sold goods in general.

Gold and Jewelry

The "Gold" jewelry, which are offered in hotels or obvious tourist shops, are almost never made from real gold, even if, during the price negotiations, the weight of the article is weighed out with important gestures and expressions.

Those actually only (often low-quality) gold-plated articles can be bought at eg. eBay for a fraction of the price, and often in a better quality.

Genuine gold costs in all countries of the world more or less the same, because the (high) gold price is in all countries the same, a lower price can only be found as a result of different taxes and gold qualities (and with war events, when many persons are forced to sell gold or are being robbed ... both is not the case today in Tunisia).
The only difference between Tunisia and many western countries is, that the "work" of the craftsman is not being paid, just the weight of the material - nevertheless, if one compares the Tunisian price with the price of eg. a turkish, arabic or indian jeweler in western countries, the differences are not so big either.

Also, in the tourist areas, eg. the jeweler streets in the Medinas, the prices are fixed amongst the jewelers - the same jewelry will cost the same price with each one of them.
If one absolutely wants to buy gold jewelry in Tunisia (eg. individually manufactured pieces), one should do this with a trustworthy jeweler far from the tourist zones!

Other Goods

Many tourists bring home shoes from Tunisia - however, in many larger cities of western countries, you can meanwhile find shops in which the very same shoes (and also other clothing) are sold for nearly the same price, so even here, there won't be a large price advantage anymore.

Spices, which are offered on the markets, can usually be bought as well in western countries with spice importers at similar prices, the so-called "tourist spice packs" in Tunisia are, by the way, usually not recommended, both quality- and price-wise.

If someone carefully compares prices, he will find out that many goods that are (allegedly...) manufactured in Tunisia, are sold there for higher prices than in western countries and often in lower qualities (because the "good" qualities go into the export).

So, for a real "good deal", one has to investigate prices and examine qualities very carefully and should be aware of the prices in western countries as well.

Bringing items TO Tunisia is, in many cases, not recommended, since the european purchase price plus transportation (luggage fees) will, in many cases, be more than the price of the same item in Tunisia.

There are only a few goods that are really "worth" it to be brought to Tunisia, eg. if they are in Tunesien hardly available or very expensive.

This is the case specifically for brand new electronics (however, even brand new smartphones won't cost today much more in Tunisia than in western countries, sometimes they are even sold for less), genuine wood furniture (wood is very expensive in Tunisia), small kitchen machines (blender etc.), and for brand name alcohole, cheese and pork products, the two latter being sold only rarely and in more or less disgusting qualities and consistencies.

With all other wares, a thorough investigation into prices and qualities is recommended.

See also:

Shopping and Haggling in Tunisia

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