In retrospect, it should have been obvious that we were trying to be too clever by at least half. With the time to renew our press accreditation and residence permits fast approaching, another journalist friend and I decided to get a jump on the process by making appointments using the handy-dandy "e-randevu" (online reservation) system recently installed by the İstanbul Emniyet Yabancı Şubesi (Police Headquarters Foreigner Office). We weren't sure when our first set of paperwork from the press office would be ready, but it wouldn't hurt to make an appointment, right? After all, right below the "new appointment" button, there was a "find/cancel appointment" button. What could possibly go wrong?
The square stone wheels of Turkish bureaucracy turn slowly, of course, so we found ourselves needing to reschedule our appointments for a later date. I logged on confidently and clicked the "find/cancel appointment" button. The system found my appointment, all right. But when I went to cancel it, this message popped up:
The verb used for "recourse" in the Turkish version was müracaat etmek, to appeal to. I pictured a crowd of foreigners on their knees at the Emniyet, begging to be allowed to change their appointments as a tea-sipping functionary steadfastly ignored them. But an appeal could also be made by telephone, couldn't it? No dice. I called up and was informed that though my desired operation could not be handled over the phone, if I came into the Emniyet, they would be happy to cancel my appointment. (OK, maybe, I added in the "happy to" part.)
So, basically, the Emniyet instituting an online reservation system is the equivalent of a bank setting up an ATM where you can make a request for a withdrawal at the machine, but have to turn up at the branch to collect your cash. Hm. I'd better not give Yapi Kredi and Garanti any ideas.