If You Want to Go Shopping in Turkey, Consider Europe Instead

I swear, the pantyhose are made of real silk!

Before moving to Turkey, I almost always shopped online. I loved getting exactly what I wanted, not having to go anywhere, being able to judge the quality of my prospective purchases by the reviews of people who have already hacked through the jungle of the internet, contracted the tropical fever of buyer’s remorse, and learned the strange tongues of the savage online merchant.

Online shopping in Turkey is much less popular than in Canada, which means that if you need something, you must usually perform the unpleasant task of searching brick and mortar stores until you find it. If being forced to spend time doing that isn’t bad enough, Turkish salespeople often make it worse.

My defense mechanism is to just not go shopping if I can help it, but as Adem and I got married in the winter, I did need to buy a few things. The first was a shawl to go over my dress. I hoped to buy something wool as it might be suitably warm for going outside in a Turkish winter. Adem and I went downtown to look in the shops. We spotted one that sold scarves and asked the merchant if he had any made of wool.

“Sure,” he said and pointed. “Right there.”

Just by looking, I could tell that the scarf was not wool. The fabric was glossy and a bit plasticky. Further investigation revealed a tag that said, “100% polyester.”

“This is polyester,” said Adem to the merchant after I showed him the tag.

“Oh,” said the merchant. “It’s polyester mixed with wool.”

“But this says 100% polyester,” said Adem.

“Well it got mixed up with the others,” said the merchant.

“The others are also polyester,” said Adem after glancing at the rest of the tags.

We walked on, shaking our heads.

A few days later, I went to Sephora to buy a lipstick for the wedding.

A saleslady approached. “Can I help you?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said. “I’m getting married soon and I’m looking for a lipstick that is close to the natural colour of my lips, but will make them more visible in pictures.”

The saleslady led me to the Estee Lauder section and proposed a colour. Even by Sephora standards, it was expensive.

“Or,” said the saleslady as I grimaced indecisively, “the colour I’m wearing could be very nice as well.”

The saleslady’s lipstick was so dark it was almost black. It could not have been further from what I’d asked for.

“No thank you,” I said. “I’m looking for something more natural looking.”

Then, I asked her if there were any cheaper brands I could try.

She said, “All the lipsticks here are this expensive.”

Since I am too good at wasting time and not making my exit when I should, I asked, “what about the store brand?”

“Oh,” said this lady a bit tersely. “I didn’t realize you considered the store brand a possibility.”

I allowed myself to be dragged over to the store brand shelf but left without buying anything after the lady, again, showed me an array of colours that were the opposite of what I’d asked for and then did not suggest we look at other, cheaper, non-Estee Lauder lipsticks which were displayed in brightly coloured rows all over the store.

That same week, Adem and I bought wedding rings. I asked the jeweler if mine could be made in rose gold.

“Of course,” he said. “The rings will be ready in a few days.”

A few days later, we went to pick them up. As promised, Adem’s was yellow gold, and mine was rose.

Six weeks after the wedding, both the rings were yellow gold. For some reason, rather than making mine in solid rose gold, they had only plated it … without telling us.

We went back to the store to complain.

“Oh,” said the jeweler. “Rose gold as a material doesn’t exist, so it’s not possible to have rose gold jewelry that isn’t plated. You know. You wash the dishes, you do housework with it, and that’s what happens. It wears off.”

Adem is a peaceful guy, and my Turkish isn’t good enough to really stick my claws in someone, which is maybe for the best since the mental insults I was slinging would have made Satan himself blush.

Here is a G version of those insults:

LIES! LIEESSS!!! LIESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOUR MOM WAS AN INCOMPETENT PARENT!!!!

They offered to replate the ring for free, which we did because I was too stunned to say or do anything else. Three weeks later, it is now quite robustly yellow, again.

Turkey has bigger problems than this of course, but these kinds of mundane dishonesties are just so frustrating in the day-to-day.

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