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Surviving A Taxi Scam

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Mount Dora, Florida
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Surviving A Taxi Scam

I take a taxi to and from Taksim Square to our hotel in Sultanahmet several times each week. The fare averages about 15TL, and is never more than 17TL, sometimes as low as 13TL. Today my husband, daughter and I took a taxi from Taksim back to our hotel.

I always keep an eye on the meter and I could see it was increasing much too quickly. Several years ago I promised myself to never be intimidated by this event again.

When we reached the entrance to the street of our hotel the meter read 35.50TL. This was only 4.5TL less than I paid a taxi two nights ago to bring us from the center of Kadikoy to our hotel, a drive that took 45 minutes and involved a trip over the first bridge across the Bosphorus. I knew that there was something wrong with the meter.

I told my daughter and husband to get out of the taxi. Mr BR hates confrontations and would pay whatever the meter read to avoid unpleasantness. Once thy wer gone, using my very limited Turkish language, I took out a 20TL note and told the driver that the meter was very bad. I told him I was paying 15TL for the ride and 5TL for his tip and I was giving him 20TL.

I pulled out my cell phone to illustrate that I had a photo of the taxi with the number clearly in evidence, and again offered him 20TL.

He had a little fit, so I told him if he was unhappy he should call the police and I would wait until they arrived. He immediately took the 20TL bill and said "OK. No Police OK OK". I gave him the 20TL and left the taxi and he left.

This is the first event I have had of this nature in three years, so I do not think it happens often, but I simply decided it would never happen to me again, particularly on a route and with a fare with which I was so familiar.

The last time this happened I asked the manager of our hotel to address the problem of an incorrect meter with the taxi driver, but I decided to just handle it myself.

You are only a victim of this particular scam if you elect to be a victim, and I decided not to participate. I wanted to share this experience because I do know that the occasional unethical taxi driver can create a problem.

On the plus side, we have been in Istanbul for several weeks, and have used taxis on almost a daily basis. This is the first unpleasant experience we have had. Our drivers have been kind, ethical and honest, and generally unwilling to accept a tip of more than 1-2TL. Overall, in spite of our experience today, I still think taxis in Istanbul are some of the best and certainly the most inexpensive anywhere in the world.

Mount Dora, Florida
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1. Re: Surviving A Taxi Scam

And......to put the fare charge of 35.5TL into perspective. On Thursday night we took a taxi from the eastern side of Kadikoy, across the first Bosphorus Bridge, passed Ortakoy, Eminonu, Sirkeci and to the door of our hotel in Sultanahmet For that experience in the taxi the meter read 40TL. That taxi ride covered many more miles, involved a toll bridge and took 45 minutes.

I do not understand how they manipulate the meters. This meter was a digital meter in the rear view mirror, and I could only follow it by asking the driver to turn it on. I expect there is some way to keep the meter visible through the entire ride and the driver had also by-passed this feature. I did check to make sure that the meter read 2.50TL when we got into the taxi, but I was not able to clearly follow the rapid increases as we were driving. The meter did clearly read 35.5 when we reached our destination.

Istanbul
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2. Re: Surviving A Taxi Scam

Busy-retired, thanks for letting us know about your personal experience in this matter. This is obviously a tampered meter, that moves more rapidly than it should. Totally illegal. You have made three things right. You have taken the picture of the car with its licence plate number, given him even a few liras more than he deserves, and told him that you will go to the police. Please let us know the licence plate number here at the forums, so that we will all know which taxi to avoid.

Although I agree that there are few taxi drivers like this among thousands, those that practice these scams unfortunately give all a bad name.

enigma...

Ruhr Area, Germany
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3. Re: Surviving A Taxi Scam

This is exact the reason why I tend to avoid taxi rides. I know that I would feel like your husband and pay whatever they ask for.

After reading all those contributions about taxi fares and scams I realized that we have been scammed once. The taxi driver asked us for 12...I asked >Euro or Lira< and he told me Euros. As it was our first night in Istanbul and we were somewhat overwhelmed and confuse we paid 12 Euros instead of TL .It was a short ride from Sultanahmet to Eminönü...

Istanbul
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4. Re: Surviving A Taxi Scam

As Busy-retired says, avoiding taxis would not be a solution because they perform great service and are cheap and convenient. The important issue is to have a fair idea about the cost of the ride (visitors can ask this to their hotels reception), arrange for taxis as much as possible thru the hotel reception with the companies that they they deal with regularly, and be ready to do what Busy-retired very appropriately did in case of a suspected scam.

There are crooked drivers in every major city of Europe and US. I was subjected to a number of taxi scams at NYC, and one time in Munich, Germany. However I use them everywhere because of their convenience and comfort and sometimes for certain locations at certain hours, there is no other transportation.

enigma...

Istanbul, Turkey
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5. Re: Surviving A Taxi Scam

As you have the evidence on your iPhone give it to Hakan your hotel manager and get it reported to the authorities.Visitors seldom have such evidence and when it is in hand it should be used and the rogue taxi drivers properly dealt with.The majority of honest taxi's would say you were right to do so as they all suffer a bad rep.due to a handful of bad ones.

Even though you may not have proof of what he wanted from you,once reported,the council can check the meter to see if it has indeed been tampered with.

Only by using opportunities like this can we ever hope to address this issue and let these sharks know that it is no longer tolerated and that'hapless foreigners' will take action.

Istanbul, Turkey
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6. Re: Surviving A Taxi Scam

In Istanbul there are nearly 20.000 (twenty thousand) yellow cabs! and 35-40.000 taxi drivers. And as u can expect ,there are bad apples.

% 40 of them connected to a Taxi Rank but it doesn't stop them free floating,they are always on the traffic.On their doors ,upon the Plate number,it is written the name of the rank and the telephone number of the rank(seems like a badge).Try to pick the taxis which have this.

There is only 1 taxi tariff,used to be night/day before but not now.And it starts with 2,50 Lr. Traffic may make a change like in the example ,from Taksim to Sultanahmet 13 lr sounds very right ;with the traffic can be 16-17-18 lr. And another well known precaution if the taxi is insisting to pick you don't bother that one, you choose your taxi among the ones with the badge.To make the meter work incorrectly is not easy,should have a set-up made earlier to prepare for a scam.

There is no question like "lira or euro? " everything in Lira.Most of the taxi drivers possibly did not see euro in their lifes.

Taxi is very cheap in Istanbul compare to Europe,enjoy it,avoid traffic.

Another thing : From Kadıköy to Sultanahmet taxi is not a good idea,take the ferry (vapur) from Kadıköy to Eminonu,enjoy the scenery of Bosphorus instead of watching the taxi meter:)

Mount Dora, Florida
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7. Re: Surviving A Taxi Scam

I agree that it is generally better to take the ferry from Kadikoy to Eminonu, but occasionally we are out beyond the time when the ferry stops running. There are also times when I just cannot physically manage the walk to the ferry, the ferry, the walk to the tram, the tram ride & the walk to my hotel.

We use taxis all of the time. We have techniques to avoid common scams which we experience not only in Istanbul but other big cities. I simply could not travel if I had to depend exclusively on public transportation. Statistically chances of having a bad experience are remote. I've probably used a taxi at least 100 times over the last five years, and this was only my second bad experience. I certainly will not let this event stop me from using a taxi based on 1% to 2% chance of a bad experience. Frankly I do not view this as a bad experience. We did not pay 35.5 TL & we reached our destination successfully.

I posted this only as an example of what can happen along with what I did to prevent being a victim. When you are mentally prepared it is easier to make a wise decision.

Cincinnati, Ohio
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8. Re: Surviving A Taxi Scam

Thanks for your helpful post, BR. I write to urge that you follow sarikanarya's excellent advice and have your hotel report this taxi driver to the appropriate authorities.

Washington, D.C.
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9. Re: Surviving A Taxi Scam

great post and advice, which we've followed in similar situations. one of the many great utilities of a cell phone camera - obtaining and showing the car license and identification image is key.

i had to laugh when you relayed your instructions to your husband and daughter to get out of the taxi, because we have precisely the same "dynamic" in our family and with mr. barusso and have given the same instructions to him on occasion.

Berlin, Germany
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10. Re: Surviving A Taxi Scam

Technology can help here: iphone/ipad app mytaxicontrol is a taximeter and it works in Istanbul