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.