I just came back from Istanbul, and I bought a carpet there.
After many suffering many assaults in Istanbul's Grand Bazaar from usual carpet sellers who try to crimp you and won't let you go ("Where are you from? Come in. Cheap price, sir!"), we finally went to a place recommended to us by the Consul General of France. So we met Yashar Aksoy at the Arasta Bazaar under the Blue Mosque. Yashar spoke French and greeted us in his shop with a glass of hot tea, and we started talking about ourselves. After twenty minutes of small yet friendly talk, he showed us at least twenty different carpets, each time explaining the origin, the history, the signification of drawings, showing what was remarkable, what needed to be fixed etc... He took almost two hours of his time to teach us what we needed to know before buying a carpet.
When we finally selected the top five, he told us to go home, think about it and come back the next day in another place where he had many more to show. The consul's wife told us that he was reliable because he made most of his business with French expatriates, knew the buying habits of French people -very different from Americans- and was very cautious about keeping his reputation of honesty. Therefore we should expect him to go down directly to his final price leaving very little space for bargaining.
When we finally decided on a Umurbey carpet (the one below left on the picture), he offered us another glass of hot tea, walked us back to our car which was ten minutes away and kissed my wife goodbye s we left.
I like to think of this as excellent salesmanship: I bought a carpet, but I also learned a lot.