Don’t forget to haggle

Istanbul-scam-hagglingHaggling is part of the Turkish culture, and it’s easy to forget to bargain on the prices of street vendors when they are so persistent and the prices seem already cheap. Because of the confusing currency exchange rate and the generally low prices in Turkey, unsuspecting tourists end up being overcharged on a regular basis in Istanbul, especially around the popular sightseeing and tourist destinations.

But don’t let them fool you, here are just a few examples:

  • Shoe shine

A local will be charged 2 or 3 Turkish Lira for a shoe shine, while a tourist is asked for 25 Lira. Even if the tourist is a good negotiator, he or she usually ends up paying at least 10 Lira for a shoe shine, which is still up to five times the regular price.

  • Tourist maps

A tourist street map of Istanbul is sold by many teenagers swarming the streets around the popular tourist hotspots. Their initial asking price could be up to 30 Lira, while no more than 5 Lira is reasonable for this product. If you decline, they will quickly lower their price to 20 Lira, and if you keep turning them down, the asking price will continue to fall.

  • Counterfeit merchandise

Many street vendors roam the streets with fake luxury brand perfumes, handbags etc. Considering the asking price, it would be naive to thing you’re buying the real thing. The quality is usually much less than the original, and you may even end up having to leave the counterfeit goods behind at the customs in your home country or even pay a fine. And despite the already low asking price, don’t forget to haggle even further. Remember: those € 50,- perfumes that are offered on the streets for just € 15,- have a purchase price for the street vendor as low as € 2,- depending on the quality of the product.

How to haggle

Sometimes street vendors ask you to make them a counteroffer of what the goods are worth to you, hoping that you will be fooled by their ridiculously high initial price and feel ashamed to bargain too much off. Just keep in mind that prices in Turkey are most likely much lower than in your home country, so they are banking your price consciousness from “back home”. Also, be prepared to walk away if they don’t agree to your offer. If your price was good, the seller will come running after you and agree to your offer in second instance. However, be aware that it’s considered disrespectful to withdraw an offer after it’s been agreed upon by the other party. Only name a price if you are actually willing to buy the merchandise at that price.

Find experiences from real victims or post your own story in our Istanbul and Turkey Tourist Scams Forum.

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