As I mentioned on the main
Istanbul Taxi page, you cannot look forward
to a good experience when using Istanbul
taxis. The best you can hope for is
a neutral experience.
This article (in Turkish) from Milliyet, a prominent Turkish newspaper, shows that the bad taxi drivers victimize not just foreign visitors, but Istanbullus as well.
Here are some real-life bad experiences,
sent to me by TTP users:
Every Trick in the Book
I just returned from several days in Istanbul [May 2016] and want to mention something about the inevitable negative experience with taxis.
One thing that’s new (for me) is that the taxi meter on most of the cabs we took displayed the information in light blue diodes on the rear-view mirror, and it flashes on and off. This makes it difficult to see what the current fare is when you first get inside (as you are likely looking for a separate box). I got into a scammy driver’s cab and he insisted that I sit in the passenger seat, while my friend got into the back. Being in the passenger seat made it difficult for me to see what was happening on the meter.
He attempted the switching of money trick (5 TL for the 50 TL that I originally handed him). Then as I argued he tried to have me give him a US$ 10 note instead. This created all kinds of chaos and then I started yelling “Polis! Polis!” out the car window (near Taksim). In that chaos he pulled out his “trick” money to give us back the 50 TL and I saw he had a US $1 bill (ready to switch for our $10, had we given it to him) along with a few Euros, too.
If any advice can be given, when possible make sure the person paying is in the back seat to make sure he/she can easily see the rear view mirror meter read out. Before embarking on your trip, make sure that the meter is showing the lowest amount (I think it was 3.20 TL) – we abandoned a cab when it was already at 25 TL and the driver refused to bring it down.
After our first negative experience, I took to quite visibly making a big production of my taking a smart-phone photo of the inside placard with his taxi number – this is usually on the passenger dash board and/or in the back passenger compartment (putting him on notice that we didn’t want any BS).
The other thing I did was to quite audibly recite the denomination of the note as I handed it to him and pausing between each note – the denomination is clearly written on the note itself: “yirmi – yirmi – bes” (I know that you recommend this as well, but I think saying it in Turkish helps).
Other than that, it was a great trip.
During the FIBA World Basketball Championships
in August 2010, there were numerous
complaints from visitors about some
drivers using a
"magic button" on their taxi
"Visitors to Istanbul for the FIBA
World Championship overall look to
be having a great time. But there does
seem to be at least one very unwelcoming
aspect of the city.
Not all Turkish cab drivers are
dishonest. The great majority aren't.
But it's still hard to find a visitor
here who has taken taxis and hasn't
run into at least one crooked cabbie....
One scheme is the magic button. I
was a victim of it once and so was
Slobodan Sarenac, the blogging Serbian
"'Ah, yes, the magic button,'
said Sarenac, knowing exactly what
I was talking about.
"'For one trip I made, the cab's meter
read just over 16 lira (about $11)
when we pulled up to our destination.
Suddenly, the cab driver pushed a button
and it read 27 lira.'
"'We argued for a while. Well, as
much as we could argue since the cabbie,
like most of them, could not speak
English. He eventually lowered his
price to 25 before I finally flipped
him a 20 and got out of the cab.'
"The next night I had returned
from the arena to the hotel and had
paid a fare of around 20 lira. A cab
arrived after me, and I noticed a big
argument between several Serbian media
members and the driver. I walked over
to see what was happening, and informed
passenger Sarenac my fare from the
arena had been around 20.
"'The meter said 18 and then
he pushed a button and it said 38,'
said Sarenac, referring to the magic
argued back and forth. We told him
we weren't going to pay him 38. Finally,
he agreed to accept 10.'" (Here's
the full story...)
"...every taxi ride, despite
settling on fares (even writing it
down so it was crystal clear), always
ended up being an issue, i.e., more.
From the airport in a yellow cab we
clearly settle on 30TL with no meter
turned on. Half way into town, driving
at over 150 kph sometimes, the drive
turns on the meter which somehow says
43 TL and when we got to [our hotel]
it was about 60TL. But I only paid
30 TL which I made the guy at the hotel
handle the transition."
(Note from Tom: I do
that you haggle and
settle on a fare in advance. You should
get the taxi driver to use
his meter so you pay
the official fare.
If the metered fare seems excessive
(ie, if the driver has taken "the
do try to get your hotel to intervene
Dodgy Meters & Note-Switching
"I was a a guest at Titanic City Hotel
in mid-Jan. On our departure, the front
desk asked if we (with my colleague)
wanted to call a taxi to airport which
we agreed. At the entrance of the hotel,
their staff pointed us to take a taxi
which claimed to be called by the hotel.
"We believed that the taxi driver is
engaged with dodgy behaviour:
"1. The taxi meter indicated
much higher amount than an usual trip
from Taksim square to Airport (without
any traffic jam) i.e. at TL65
[Note from TB: the official fare is TL40.]
"2. On arrival at airport, we paid
TL65 with 2 notes (one at TL50 and
one at TL20) and got off to get the
suitcase from the trunk while the taxi
driver was writing the receipt. When
we got the suitcase off the trunk,
the driver told us that we only paid
him TL25 (still two notes, one at TL20
and one at TL5).
"We had intentionally
reserved TL70 for the last taxi trip,
and did not have TL40 left to pay for
"Apparently, he exchanged
the TL50 note with TL5 note when we
both were out-of-sight.
"After the argument
and in view of time constraint, we
paid additional TL30 plus USD5 to the
driver to close this incident."
"Leaving our ship, the NCL Jade,
we wanted a taxi to the Grand
Bazaar. All "the bargainers...taxi
drivers" right near the ship,
wanted to play'"Let's Make a Deal"...I
am so tired of that so we caught a
cab right outside the port entrance.
"I was careful to ask...was there a meter?/ would
it be about 10 Turkish
lira to the Bazaar? yes, yes....
But when we got there...and let me say my husband is
not speedy exiting a small taxi or I would have jumped
out and thrown him the money...but now the driver is
arguing 10 Euro and so in fear of
retaliation of some kind, I paid the 10 Euro even though
our understanding was LIRA.
"And upon leaving the Bazaar, an older gentleman's
taxi must have been using the "old" meter
because as he sped away with us, I knew we were in
trouble again. The ride cost 45 Turkish lira...his
meter must have been set to the old lira and yes, we
did it again.
"Nothing so frustrating as being 'taken
for a ride'.
"All I wanted to do after that was set sail and
be done with Istanbul! A shame, because we were happy
to return for our 2nd, my husband's 3rd, trip to Istanbul.
But I must say now, I don't anticipate a return.
"But, Thank you so much for the tip about "Backpackers
There are things
you can do to avoid
bad experiences. More...
How to File a Complaint
The license plate number of each taxi
is painted prominently on both sides
and the roof of the car. Note the
number, which consists of "34" plus
three letters and two digits (example:
34 TDY 01), the date, time and location(s)
of the incident, and send a description
to the Istanbul Public Transport Services
Toplu Ulaşım Hizmetleri Müdürlüğü
Beylerbeyi Cad. No:4
Edirnekapı - İSTANBUL
Tel : +90 (212) 453 78 78
Fax : +90 (212) 453 78 77
You may not get much satisfaction, however.