Shopping in Turkey is a different experience from shopping in, say, the UK. Here, the preponderance of family run businesses pretty much ensures you will be treated with consideration, kindness and plied with tea for as long as you care to remain. There are the odd exceptions, of course, where the soft porn pages of the newspaper or the imagined rough end of a finger nail are deemed in need of greater attention and interest, but they are rare.
Returning a newly bought but faulty electrical item is a different matter. At first there is great concern and amazement that such a thing could happen. There will be much discussion and detailed examination of the object. Numerous attempts will be made to find even the faintest glimmer of life. When these fail they will offer to return it under guarantee.
Now, guarantees in Turkey are interesting things; they are seldom stamped and dated as they should be which can be a good thing or a bad thing. It’s a good thing when your guarantee has just run out and you are dealing with a shop owner who knows you and values your continued custom. He will take your unstamped guarantee, stamp it and write in an appropriate date. Then, because it is required, he will need to attach the original till receipt which none of us ever remembers to keep. This is not a problem because in the drawer under the counter are loads of old receipts that he’s collected and he will find one for the approximate value which he will now staple to the guarantee. He’ll smile and say ‘Problem yok!’ and point you towards the accredited repair man down the street who will have it all fixed up in no time at all.
That assumes that it is not too complicated a piece of electronics or the supplier has a ‘return to base’ service policy. Here you run into a bit of a brick wall – ‘OK!’ you say, ‘How long will it take?’ Much sucking of teeth. Mostly he won’t know (he’s been in this business for 30 years but this is all a bit new to him). ‘Not good enough’ you say, ‘it’s brand spanking new. It doesn’t work and I want it replaced right now.’ Now he’s looking at you as if you are from an alien planet (which you are!). You expect him to take back a broken thingy and give you a new one. Are you mental? By now you probably are! ‘All right’ you say ‘give me my money back!’ Ha! Now you really have proved you’re a bug-eyed monster from another planet.
In the end you will see it his way and it will be sent away under guarantee and your chances of ever laying eyes on it again will be slim. You’ll call in each week in the forlorn hope that it has come back or a replacement has arrived only for your shoulders to sag as you slump to the stool the owner has thoughtfully provided. You hardly notice when a glass of tea appears, miraculously in your hand. The shop owner will be deeply distressed at your distress, he will empathise totally with you about the awful state of customer service and care in Turkey – suddenly his face will brighten, he’ll pull down a gleaming chromium marvel from the shelf, and cry triumphantly, ‘I’ve got a slug!’
Mr. Praline: “VOOM”?!? Mate, this bird wouldn’t “voom” if you put four million volts through it! ‘E’s bleedin’ demised!
Owner: No, no! ‘E’s pining!
Mr. Praline: ‘E’s not pinin’! ‘E’s passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the perch ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibule!! (sic) THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!
Owner: Well, I’d better replace it, then. (he takes a quick peek behind the counter) Sorry squire, I’ve had a look ’round the back of the shop, and uh, we’re right out of parrots.
Mr. Praline: I see. I see. I get the picture.
Owner: I got a slug.
Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü
ps for those desperately disappointed not to have a picture of a slug – see below.