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How to politely ditch the "carpet salesmen"?

Seattle, Washington
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16 posts
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How to politely ditch the "carpet salesmen"?

My husband and I are staying in Sultanahmet and really enjoying the atmosphere, food and sights. But we must look very attractive to carpet salesmen, because whenever we go near the main tourist sights, we are constantly followed around by men trying to "help" us. They always ask us where we are from and what hotel we are staying in, and we don't know the appropriate response. We have tried everything we can think of, from not acknowledging the people at all, just smiling, saying no thank you, entering into friendly conversation with them, etc. If we don't acknowledge them, say no thank you, or say hello but then give them some excuse right away, they tell us we are rude and one man started cursing at us because we stopped responding to him. If we act at all friendly, they follow us around for many minutes, talking to us, asking us questions, giving us unnecessary pointers about the area, and then trying to get us to come to their father's carpet store or to take us into the sights. At that point, a no thank you, have a nice day usually works. But does anyone have tips for politely getting them to leave us alone within the first minute of approaching us? I'd like to avoid getting to the point where they ask us where we are staying or where we're from.

We have this same issue with men outside restaurants and those selling tours, but it has not been as much of an issue as the conversation is much shorter before you can politely move on. And sometimes we enjoying chatting for a few minutes.

I apologize if this question has been asked before and if it seems negative. I looked through 20 pages of questions and didn't find anything similar. We ran into similar situation with vendors in Mexico, but for the most part (with only one exception), if you said no thank you, they would immediately leave you alone.

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Brighton and Hove...
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1. Re: How to politely ditch the "carpet salesmen"?

I think basically you just absolutely ignore them - sounds harsh I know, but anything else and as you say, it just goes on and on, and the more embroiled you get, then the harder it is NOT to go to the uncle's shop, whatever!

Appleton, Wisconsin
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2. Re: How to politely ditch the "carpet salesmen"?

I found that I was only ever approached by salesmen when I was not wearing my sunglasses. Otherwise I found that, for the most part, I was not bothered. I don't look Turkish at all (when the glasses came off, they thought I was Swedish) but I think the sunglasses made me feel more confident so I walked with more purpose, therefore, I didn't look like a tourist.

I only had one incident where I had a difficulty. Someone asked if I was looking for the Rustem Pasha Mosque (I was.) He said he could show me where it was but that it was prayer time and I couldn't enter then. He offered to let me wait at the shop and offered me tea. Unfortunately I had no intention of buying jewelry but had to spend about a half hour trying all sorts of necklaces on. I was "rescued" by a nice Swedish tourist who interrupted and allowed me to make my escape. I did get to see the mosque so it, didn't buy anything I didn't want, was showered with tea and compliments, so it all turned out ok in the end. Just a part of my Istanbul adventures.

London, United...
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3. Re: How to politely ditch the "carpet salesmen"?

Very typical. You are not obliged to give your personal information such as where you are from and where you stay. At the same time, you don't need to be rude or ignore. Simply you have to say categorically that you have no interest to purchase carpet or anything. They get used yo it and you will get used it by the end of your stay there.

Southern Highlands...
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4. Re: How to politely ditch the "carpet salesmen"?

I had a similar problem but it was only in one particular area and on the weekend, but now with it being busy in Istanbul I'm guessing it is occurring most of the days. Fully understand what you are going through and it is something that I found annoying, but please don't let it ruin your trip.

Most with a simple no thank-you take the hint and leave you alone but I found that around the Hippodrome in particular was really bad and I had an issue at the Sultanahmet Tram Station, this guy just would not leave me alone. I ended up putting my hand up and saying "leave me alone" in a rather loud voice he got the hint when everyone turned around to see what was happening! But really you don't want it to get to that point, it had been a long day and I just was not in the mood to be annoyed.. Don't be friendly and never give them information especially hotel details, or your name, they will just continue at you,

What I did was say no thank-you, if they continued, say it again and with head down just keep walking. They could say something to you but just ignore them, they can see they are not going to get a sale and will leave you alone. I like the idea from Connie about the sunglasses. I found that spending extra time outside some of the tourist sites wasn't a good idea, if I was taking photos I would just concentration on doing that and said no thank-you and just ignore them, they then left me alone. On my last trip I had a local translator with me, she looked very "western" and most thought she was a tourist, it was rather funny when she would start talking Turkish to them, they were very different and nowhere near "aggressive". She couldn't believe just how many people approach you on the street also.

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5. Re: How to politely ditch the "carpet salesmen"?

Smile and keep walking. Let them know you're ignoring their pleas, cries, jokes, etc. Don't say a word. They'll leave you alone.

Seattle, Washington
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6. Re: How to politely ditch the "carpet salesmen"?

Ah, it is good to know it is not just us! Because of their reactions, it sometimes feels like we are the only ones who must ever say no thank you or that we are doing something wrong. Will try sunglasses (although it has been raining off and on) and also just saying something right at first along the lines that we don't want to buy any carpets. We have another week and a half left, so hopefully will get used to it or figure out a strategy that works. We did notice that today was quieter, maybe because some of the guys we have seen more than once and they recognize us.

One thing that was funny is that we were going to see what would happen if we pretended not to speak English. When we ignored one guy, he jokingly said you must not speak English and then he rattled off several sentences in different languages. And one night at dinner we watched the restaurant guy have very lengthy conversations with several different potential customers in various languages.

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7. Re: How to politely ditch the "carpet salesmen"?

First idea and a not very practical one - look poor or young. I never seem to get approached by carpet sellers, maybe because I look young enough and poor enough not to be able to afford a carpet. They tend to target older people, especially couples.

Secondly, just ignore them or give a Turkish tsk, that is, a jerk of the head upwards with a click of the tongue. This means "no" and tends to get rid of them.

Thirdly, don't say "I don't want a carpet", because not all of them are carpet sellers. They may be unofficial guides, work for a restaurant or be selling boat trips. I was actually in Sultanahmet yesterday and got chatting to one of these guys. He was standing on the street and was directing me to visit the cisterns (which I've been to many times). We got talking and I asked him what his tactic was. He said he actually works bringing customers to a jewellery shop and his ploy is to get them chatting, be friendly and reel them in like that.

If you absolutely are not interested in buying anything, then avoid getting into conversations with these guys, even if you feel rude. You are under no obligation to talk to anyone and trust me, they are used to being ignored. However, sometimes you can have nice encounters with them, they might show you a new place or maybe an interesting shop that you wouldn't have otherwise gone to.

8. Re: How to politely ditch the "carpet salesmen"?

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