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Card Payments Are Basic Human Rights, Apparently

, , , , , | Right | March 26, 2019

(The credit card system breaks down due to a server error. We hang a sign outside apologizing and explaining the situation. A couple walks in.)

Customer: “I’ll pay with a card.”

Me: “I’m sorry, it’s not possible right now. The system broke down. Cash only.”

Customer: “But I want to pay with a card. Can’t you just let me do it?”

Me: “As I said, it’s not possible. The system is not running. I’m sorry—“

Customer: “Are you kidding me? You can’t refuse my payment, you idiot! Who’s the customer, you or me?”

Me: “I’m sorry. The system broke down. It’s just not possible. It’s not our fault. The company’s whole system has broken down.”

(The man walks away and joins the woman in the seating area. They are discussing for about ten minutes, constantly pointing at me and shaking their heads. Then I get a call by the company that they fixed the problem; the system is running again. I approach the couple.)

Me: “Excuse me. The problem was fixed. We can accept cards again.”

Customer: “Do you really think we still want to buy anything from YOU? I am a customer and you have to show me at least some basic human respect!”

(However, they stayed in the seating area for about one hour, just talking.)

You Can Gugelhopf On By!

, , , | Working | February 27, 2019

(My mum wants to order an old-fashioned cake — a Gugelhopf — for my birthday and enquires well in advance if a local bakery would be able to make that. She specifies that she will need it on a certain Friday, as they then will set off early on Saturday morning to come to see me. The lady says she will check and get back to my mum. However, she never does and my mum assumes the bakery can’t do it. Come that Saturday, the lady rings, somewhat upset, and with an attitude.)

Bakery: “You need to come pick up the Gugelhopf!”

Mum: “Wait, what? You never confirmed you could actually make it. We never discussed what flavour I wanted, or how big the cake would be, or what it would cost. You never notified me that the cake was ready, either!”

Bakery: “Oh…”

Mum: “Also, I said I needed it on Friday; now it’s way too late. We are already a few hundreds of kilometres away from home! You can now sell that Gugelhopf in your shop.”

(The lady then had the decency to recognise her fault and apologise for her mistake. In the end, my brother baked the Gugelhopf at my house, and it was delicious.)

It’s A Very Fine Day

, , , , , | Legal | January 13, 2019

(I work for a community police department. Even though I wear a police uniform, I’m not a police officer. There are certain aspects of police work we aren’t allowed to do, such as processing criminal cases, since we’re mostly tasked with traffic cases, granting permits, and managing gastronomic establishments, as well as events on public property. It’s a Saturday afternoon, which means our reception is closed and people need to ring to be let into the building. On our security camera, I see a very upset-looking man with his kid in tow coming up and ringing the doorbell. A Swiss canton is similar to a state in the United States; we have communal police, cantonal police, and federal police, all with different responsibilities.)

Me: *via door intercom* “Hello, how may I help you?”

Client: “I would like to press criminal charges.”

Me: “I’m very sorry, but we are unable to process criminal cases. You would need to talk to the cantonal police about that. I can give you the address.”

Client: “That’s okay, but I still need a written confirmation from you.”

(I’m not sure what he’s talking about, so I decide to let him into the lobby and talk face to face with him. Once he’s inside, he hands me a parking fine, which was issued maybe fifteen minutes ago.)

Client: “I need to press criminal charges. This fine has been issued erroneously and as such constitutes falsification of documents. I’ve made a picture of the parking meter to prove that I still had paid time on it.”

(He shows me the picture of the meter on his phone. Something a lot of people don’t know is that when we go around and read off those meters, there are a few indicators on the display that tell us at a glance which parking spaces still have time on them and which have expired. Even though on the photo it says he still has ten minutes on it, I can tell that the time on his parking space has expired. I naturally assume that he simply pressed a button for one of the adjacent parking spaces to check which still had some time and now lies to my face in order to get the fine revoked. Unfortunately, I’m not allowed to inform him about all of this and instead point him towards making a formal complaint.)

Me: “I see. Well, that’s not really a case of falsification of documents; as such, there are no criminal charges you could press. The only thing you can do, if you believe that you’ve been falsely fined, is write a formal complaint where you state your case. You can add the picture you’ve taken as evidence for your case and one of our clerks in charge will look into it.”

Client: *explodes* “THAT’S NONSENSE! I’ll never get through with that. You’ll just claim that the time expired and I put in some money into the parking meter after the fine got issued.”

Me: “If that’s your worry, I could also claim the same right now, as I have no idea if you did or didn’t put additional money into the meter.”

(He raises the phone he’s been holding in his hand this entire time and attempts to take a photo of me. I hold up my hand over his phone’s camera lens, at which point he pulls back his phone.)


Me: “No, it isn’t. You aren’t allowed to take my picture without my permission. If you don’t want to get into any more trouble, I suggest you take my advice and write a formal complaint about your parking fine. There’s nothing more I can do for you.”

Client: *while exiting the building* “Where’s the next newspaper? I want to make this public, how these local police go around wrongfully fining people and treating them badly.”

Me: “That would be [Newspaper] on [Street]. Have a nice day!”

(We get a lot of people who threaten us to go to the media, and we usually shrug it off. Most of the time it’s an empty threat, anyway. After this incident, I looked up his license plate, which ended up being registered on his company, which helps wealthy people keep their taxes low and is located in the canton with the lowest taxes of the entire country. But he was still willing to make such a fuss and lie to what he would have to assume be a police officer for a fine worth around $40.)

Seasonal Screaming

, , , | Right | December 26, 2018

(I live in Switzerland. During the Christmas season, I work at a jewellery store as a sales assistant. An American customer carrying a cup of coffee comes in asking for help. I show him to the appropriate section, when the store security comes up to us.)

Security: *in Swiss German* “Sir, I’m sorry but you can’t have an open container and drink from it in the store.”

(The customer looks at me so I translate to English. Without warning he SCREAMS whilst speed-marching out of the store.)

Customer: “I DON’T F****** CARE! YOU’RE LOSING A SALE!”

(Buddy, I don’t care, either. If you had let me finish, I could have explained that security could’ve held on to your cup. Either way, employees do not decide store policy, and we don’t appreciate being screamed at.)

Old Man Behaves Like Big Baby When Confronted With A Real One

, , , , , | Working | November 9, 2018

We just returned from the hospital after the birth of our son. The birth itself started at 5:00 pm and took over 24 hours. Naturally, even after one week in the hospital my wife is merely holding on, trying to get as much sleep at a time and generally moving like a robot with a near-dead battery.

Nevertheless, we decide to go grocery shopping; after a week in the hospital we have almost nothing fresh left at home.

The baby is not very content with the first drive in the stroller and decides that he definitely needs to be held in someone’s arms — otherwise he screams his head off — so I carry him through the store, which, of course, means my wife needs to handle all the produce.

Due to our lack of mobility we decide to use a traditional register as opposed to the self-scanning we regularly use. While my wife is very slowly putting the products on the conveyor belt, an old couple behind us simply starts to load their items on the belt, which means we can no longer place our remaining items, as the belt moves much faster than my wife. Luckily, she manages to put most of it on the belt and simply tells the cashier what’s left in the cart so she can ring it up manually.

After she manages to grab the wallet out of my pocket and pay for our stuff, we start loading the items into our stroller, which is empty due to the baby in my arms.

Naturally, the old man behind us decides it’s now his turn to bag his items, as well, and he literally pushes past my wife while mumbling, “I need to get my groceries, too, you know!”

The cashier, an older woman I never perceived as very friendly before, sternly looks at my wife and tells her to go home and sit down for a while. She literally leaves the old guy’s wife standing there waiting to pay for her items, exits her booth, and helps my wife to load the remaining items into our cart.

I have never ever seen any cashier bagging items in this country where the customer is expected to do this himself. Thank you very much for the support in our difficult situation. The longer I am a parent, the more I feel that only people who have kids themselves know how tough certain situations are.