With over 20,000 taxis in Istanbul, there will be more than a few those who like to cheat tourists. The best way to beat the taxi scam game is to stop the scam artists before they start.
Once you know what to look for, it’s easy to spot the Istanbul Taksi scam artists and deny their weasely ways of stealing your money. Below you’ll find all the latest scams and tips for you to beat the cheats at their own game.
Round and Round Trip
This trick is a classic one found all over the world, including in Istanbul. Ignorance of the routes of tourists is used by taxi drivers, so you are made to go around in circles without you realizing that your destination is actually near and the driver easily adds to your bill.
However, even if you know the road, taxi drivers could argue that the road you are showing is jammed or the driver pretends not to know the way and gets lost.
Getting general information on taxi fares in Istanbul is absolutely essential, as this is a fairly good way because you don’t know the streets of Istanbul and don’t understand the language so you can’t communicate very well. At the very least, if you have information about common taxi fares, then you can argue when you feel the taxi driver is not walking on the right route.
Following a map on a smartphone will certainly help a lot, but it’s best to get an Istanbul SIM Card first if you have high roaming costs on your phone.
Lira Note Switch
Since you are a tourist, chances are you are not familiar with Turkish banknotes, so this is an opening to trick you. Suppose your taxi fare is 15 TL then because you do not have the correct amount, you give him 50 TL banknotes.
Unbeknownst to you, the driver will exchange it for the 5 TL banknotes prepared, then show you while waiting for an additional 10 TL from you. Unfamiliar with Turkish money, you would mistake the money for it, then add 10 TL, and you end up paying 60 TL for a fare that is only 15 TL.
Before traveling, it is best if you exchange notes for smaller values as well as coins so that you can immediately pay the exact amount that must be paid. However, if you are forced to pay with banknotes with a higher value, make sure and double-check the value of the banknotes
Don’t give them to the driver first, just show your money and ask the driver to prepare for change, it is a safe way. For your information, in Turkey, it is not common to give tips unless the driver helps you with loading or unloading your luggage.
I Have No Change
For example, let’s say that the fare you have to pay is 16 TL and then you hand over 20 TL. The driver will pretend to be looking for a change, but only finds 1 TL and he will say he doesn’t have enough change. If you give up, then he will get 3 TL less from the change.
There are two options you can consider in this situation. First, you can just give up if it’s just a few Turkish Lira.
Second, you don’t leave the car and ask the driver to change money at the store. Most likely, they’ll suddenly find some change.
Unmetered Fixed Rate
Drivers will suggest using a fixed rate instead of using a taximeter, they will convince you that this method is the best and cheaper. They will say that the traffic is heavy and they will look for shortcuts so you have nothing to lose. But the reality is not so.
Insist that you wish to use the taxi meter. If he disagrees or doesn’t even have a meter in his cab, then you are better off finding another taxi. Do the same thing, if on the way he says that the meter is broken.
If possible, ask to stop near a police car and he won’t dare argue. Non-metered is acceptable to you if you are confident and familiar with the route you are going to take and better fares.
Night Vs Day
Driver installed an incorrect time meter. The night meter (gece) is installed during the day. This can be detrimental to passengers due to the difference between night and day time.
Ensure that the time set on the meter is daylight marked with the word ‘gündüz’ appearing periodically. Whereas for those that are integrated with the mirror, the day code is ‘1’
Higher Base Cost
This can happen when a new taxi driver drops off a passenger for only a few Lira. However, the driver leaves and does not set the meter to the base cost and makes it the initial charge when the next passenger takes the taxi.
Make sure to check the base fare on the meter prominently when taking a taxi. Don’t be afraid to sound rude, it’s the locals too and even the drivers will respect you.
This can happen to a meter placed at the bottom center of the dashboard. While driving, the driver pretends to be in the gearbox, but without you knowing, he quickly pushes the button on the meter and accelerates the meter increase.
You or your friend can sit next to the driver and watch the meter, or every few minutes you look at the meter. If you do, the Driver will be aware and will not dare to do anything fraudulent.
Scam Beater 2
Choose a taxi that has a meter in the rearview mirror, you will be calm because the driver cannot tamper with the meter.
Rates Per Person
Although this scam is rare, it is possible for you to experience it. In case you agree to use a flat fare for a short trip, for example, 6 TL. You would think that this is the rate per vehicle. However, when they reach their destination, the driver will say that the fare is per person.
Keep in mind, however, that taxi fares everywhere are per vehicle, not per person. It’s always better to use a meter taxi instead of a fixed price.
A large number of official taxis in Istanbul (about 19,000 fleets), does not reduce the number of illegal, private, or unlicensed taxis in operation. Some of them will offer good rates, but many will not.
Better to use an official taxi. Finding official taxis in Istanbul is easy enough, they are yellow, have ‘Taxi’ written on the roof of the car, and have gauges attached (new model, an integrated meter in the mirror) and painted doors showing affiliation with the airport, hotel, taxi stand, etc. While at the hotel, you can ask to be called or look up at the taxi rank yourself or call him on the street.