When Türk Telecom was finally able to deliver ADSL Broadband capability down here to us on the Aegean Seacoast in 2005, it came not a moment too soon — to stop the bleeding of our Internet phone bill, which had leaped suddenly and alarmingly in mid-summer to $150 a month for simple 56kbps dial-up service.
ADSL service came late to our Western coastal township, even later to us beach-side residents. It had arrived in Turkey in the new millennium and had been fully operational in the big cities (starting with Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir) since 2002 — and in most smaller West-country municipalities since 2004. But it didn’t reach our minor Izmir-province municipality until August 2005.
In fact, we had installed our first Internet phone line in 1994 (a year after the commercial Internet became operational in Turkey) as a separate analog line — so that Peri could use our first line for voice… And, back then, our dial-up usage costs had been about $20 a month including a small amount of KDV (Katma Değer Vergisi — Value Added Tax) — in the neighborhood of 5%, if I recall correctly.
In 1996, when we upgraded to 56kps digital dial-up service, our Internet phone bill increased to about $25. And it stayed around that level for quite awhile — until KDV for telephone Yös kursu ankara service was boosted in 2003 (coincidental with the coming to power of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s religious-right AKP political party) to the maximum KDV tax rate of 18%.
But, when 18% wasn’t enough to satisfy the new government’s tax man, he invented an additional one called ÖİV (Özel İletişim Vergisi — Special Communications Tax) which socked in at 15% right off the bat — without much warning in 2004.
So, our once perfectly reasonable monthly Internet phone bill during 1994-2002 got bumped by 33% in 2003-4 — not due to increased usage on our part, but due to phone bill taxes.
And there it stayed, around $35 a month, until 2005 — when something strange began to happen with Türk Telecom reports of our Internet usage. And, our Internet bill began to climb steeply — in clear disagreement with my own cost calculations (based on my hitherto impeccably reliable dial-up service computer logs).
Twice we contacted Türk Telecom to check our Internet line for inadvertent overcharging. Twice they checked and found ‘nothing’.
And then in July 2005 the lid blew off the pot… We received a dial-up service phone bill for a whopping $150+.
That was absolutely impossible…
So, after we (grudgingly) paid the $150 bill, we lodged a complaint, and requested an investigation…
Refusal to pay a disputed phone [or electric] bill is not really an option in Turkey. If you don’t pay your bill on time, they just disconnect the service — unceremoniously and without warning. They also charge interest on your unpaid balance until you do pay — and, of course, you have to pay extra to have the service reconnected.