Here are four more popular Istanbul taxi scams. You can find the first six popular Istanbul taxi scams here. This page is a bonus page for subscribers to the Istanbul Checklists Series. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do so in the sidebar.
Higher Base Fee
- Scam — The taxi driver just dropped off a customer after a short ride and thus a small fare. Instead of resetting the meter to the base fee, he use the previous fare as the starting point, so you end up paying more than you actually should.
- Solution — Make sure that the taxi driver starts the meter at the current base taxi fee. Just do as the locals do. After getting in, just when the taxi starts moving, very ostentatiously have a look at the meter. This is not considered rude, you may even gain the driver’s respect.
Fiddling With the Meter
- Scam — This taxi scam occurs frequently with taxis where the meter is installed in the middle bottom section of the dashboard. While driving, the driver rests his hand of the gear stick. This looks innocent enough, but without you noticing he presses some buttons on the meter, every time adding a small amount or speeding up the increment.
- Solution — You could make sure one person sit in the front seat next to the driver and keeps an eye on the meter. Or, again do as locals do: every five minutes or so, very ostentatiously have a look at the meter. The driver will notice this and know you are aware of his tricks.
Fare Is Per Person
- Scam — This scam doesn’t happen often, but a few readers have complained about it, so I wanted to add it to the list. This happens mostly when you have agreed on a fixed fare, mostly for a rather short drive, e.g. 6 TL. After reaching the destination, one person hands over the money, after which the driver waits for the others to pay too, uttering that the agreed upon fare was per person.
- Solution — Taxi fares are always per vehicle, never per person. Another reason why I advise to always use the meter and not agree on fixed prices.
This is not a scam, but some Istanbul taxi drivers think the city is one giant race track. Sure, they are very experienced drivers and want to serve as much customers in a day as possible. If you ever start feeling unsafe, just tell the driver yavaş (yavash), which means as much as ‘slow down’. Just repeat the word until the driver reaches a speed you feel comfortable with. If he doesn’t comply, just get out at the first opportunity you have.
Again, the Majority Is Honest
Let this list not scare you or assume that there are no honest taxi drivers in Istanbul. Here’s what Tigger wrote me on 22 May, 2015:
Just to offer a counter to all these stories about unscrupulous taxi drivers …. I arrived by train from Greece on a dark, wet evening. At the station were taxi drivers, waiting for rides. Now I know Istanbul very well, but the young Greek woman I met on the train had never been there before. She was expecting her sister to collect her, but her sister was nowhere to be seen. She was terrified of being alone as she’s obviously been fed stories about the ‘terrible Turks’ so I offered to wait with her until her sister arrived.
A taxi driver approached us, and I explained why we weren’t looking for a ride. Immediately he took out his cell phone, offered it to my companion with a smile and said “Here. You can call her.” She was overwhelmed!
So, you see, the taxi drivers in Istanbul are not ALL taxi mafia. Though it’s good to be aware of those few that are, who may leave a bad taste in one’s mouth and spoil an otherwise wonderful visit.