Beautiful day at Wareham, Dorset, England.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Keinton Mandeville, Somerset, England.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Birmingham, England on May 19th!

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Scammed on our first day in Istanbul!

I mentioned the other day that we had a story to tell, but I didn't want to tell it until I knew the end of the story. And I tell the story as a warning to others so hopefully it won't happen to you!

We arrived in Istanbul at SAW airport in the eastern end of the city. From there, it is an easy ride on the underground metro system to the ferry terminals at Kadikoy.

But the metro system (along with the buses and ferries) doesn't take cash. You have to buy an Istanbulkart... a contactless smart card that you put a prepaid credit on and then each ride you take, you scan your card and it debits the fare from the balance.

So, we got off the plane, made our way through immigration and customs, and into the tunnel to the metro station. There is no person to person way to buy the Instanbulkart... you have to buy at one of the self serve machines.

And, it was quite busy with other people trying to do the same thing.

Canal near the apartment where we are staying.

So we got to a machine, and of course we're standing there trying to figure out how to do what we need to do, and change the language, and not take too much time because there are others waiting. 

I had done some basic research, ahead of time, and I knew that we had to purchase a card first for 70 lira and then top it up with whatever balance we wanted to put on it. The machine accepted credit cards, so I already had my visa card in hand to pay for everything.

A local guy sees us hesitating, and he offers to help. This should have been our first warning sign, but we've had people help us at other machines in different cities, and they really were helping. I'm actually still not totally convinced that this guy did in fact scam us, however we can't see what else happened. 

Anyhow, he says "first you have to buy a card", and I saw him hit the 70 lira charge and I saw that charge on the screen. I then tapped my credit card to pay, and sure enough a new card dropped out of the bottom. He quickly picked it up (this may be where he switched the cards) and put it on the scanner and hit the button to put a 500 lira credit on the card.

We walked over to the marina yesterday.

This is the same marina where we had parked our motorhome Max when we were here.

I saw the 500 lira charge and I tapped the visa again, saw the charge button light up, and he handed me the card. Somehow, he switched the card again? I have no idea.

Anyhow, we quickly said thanks and headed through the turnstile where we had to tap the new Istanbulkart on the reader and it opened the gate to let us through.

So now, we're on the train and I checked my email. I have the credit card set up to send a notification whenever there is a charge posted to the account, and sure enough there were two emails. But the amounts didn't match up. The email only shows the charge in $CAD, not lira, so I couldn't figure out exactly how much had been charged in local currency, but I know it was more than it should have been. 

Such a nice walk on a beautiful day.

Not too many people out though.

Another section of the walk.

Later that day, we used the card to get on the ferry. This is when I noticed that there wasn't as much credit on the card as there should have been. I thought we had paid for 500 lira credit, so it should still be under 400. Instead, it was well under 100.

Fast forward two days, and the charges have now been posted to the account. There should have been one charge for 70, and one charge for 500. Instead, there was one charge for 270, and one charge for 570.

We're still not sure exactly what happened. Because we're not sure how the charge could have gone through for 270, when I'm sure that he hit the 70 button. What we do know is that we ended up with a card with 200 lira credit, and we also paid for a card that had 500 lira credit that we assume he ended up with. Again, we're not sure how he did the switcheroo, but somehow he did.

So maybe this was some kind of a processing error by the ticketing machine, but I highly doubt it. We need to go back to one of these machines and read things a little more carefully because I admit that we rushed through the whole process at the time.

Bottom line, we paid 570 lira ($17.80 USD, $24.20 CAD) for something we didn't get. So of course it's really a pretty minor incident, it's just frustrating that we're not sure how it happened. If he did scam us, and we believe he did, then he's very good at it!

This is what much of modern Istanbul looks like.

Gus the dog.

Lots of people out enjoying a beautiful day in the park.

And, lots of people at the sidewalk cafes.

The recycling guy at work.

Funny statue.

Ruth made homemade chicken pizza for dinner!
Notice Cheryl's photo of the maple sugar bush. Yes, she is also a Canadian!

Gus, getting some evening snuggles.

Not to be left out, he's quite content with me as well!

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And in Canada...

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