I didn't do a good job with a taxi ride in Turkey. I had taken a taxi from IST to Istanbul's new district with no problems and we used two more taxis while in Istanbul without problem. They were pretty cheap. However, we let our guard down on the last taxi ride from Taksim Square and was ripped off. We failed to ask the estimated cost before getting in the cab so we were overcharged by about $8 but the worst of the experience was the old switcheroo. I gave the cab driver a 50 TL note (about $9) for a 42 TL ride. With slight of hand the driver showed me a 5 TL and said I made a mistake. I was pretty sure I gave him a 50 TL but not 100% certain so I fell for it. After we got out my wife said she was certain I gave him a 50. In hindsight, I should have showed him the note and made him acknowledge it was a fifty. All in all is was probably a $12-$15 lesson. Not the end of the world. I'll do better next time.
Oh, the old switcheroo. Don't feel bad and as you noted it's not the end of the world. This reminds me of a non taxi incident at a restaurant in Amsterdam. I had tried to pay with for the meal with Euro coins and the waiter complained about all the change (this should have been my first clue huh). I didn't want to argue and ruin a good meal so I found some paper notes to pay for the meal instead. He brought back my change and we were on our way. When we got back to the hotel I noticed that my change was not 1 Euro coins but similarly sized 1 Turkish Lira coins. While this could have been an accident I don't think it was.
These, as you are probably aware, are worth a small fraction of a Euro and useless in The Netherlands. Oops, I kept the coins as a souvenir, and no this didn't ruin my trip. I guess I'm saying don't sweat it, these things happen sometimes.
We had similar issues with taxi's while in Istanbul. I am not a fan in general of taking taxi's anywhere in the world, personal preference especially with language barriers, being tired, etc..., walking or public transportation or private transfers are my preference. So that being said, I was traveling with a group of friends, who prefer to use taxi's. We had several instances where the driver's would refuse to turn on the meter and quote a price, which was usually 3-4 times more than what the metered amount would've been. This happened 4 times, we argued with the driver each time, 1 relented, however the other 3 held firm and told us the price or exit the taxi. Others in our group refused to pay one time and got out of their taxi. In the end, they had to walk about an hour back to the hotel as they couldn't flag another down (there was a cycling race closing some streets that day). The taxi's are cheap compared to the US and if you're tired from a long day it wasn't worth chancing trying to flag another. We mentioned this to our hotel, and they gave us a website to email with complaints. One of my friends did send and email, however we didn't take down the taxi numbers, shame on us. In the end, I hope that was the worst issue you had on your trip and we loved Turkey!
Like you I prefer to walk and not take taxis but when its hot, its been a long day and YOUR WIFE INSISTS then you take a taxi. I live by the maxim, "happy wife, happy life".
Sorry about your bad experience. We haven't had such a bad luck with taxis in Istanbul. But the truth is when they see a foreigner they can get really greedy. It's not only for taxis, it's actually everywhere, the markets, the cafes, hotels, etc.