Douwe Osinga's Blog: Switzerland is expensive

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Switzerland is expensive. Not a very original title, of course. But if you live here and you weren't born here, from time to time you have to remark that and as a blogger from time to time you have to post about it. By and large I'm okay with it. So the odd pub charge 9 franks for a glass of beer, supermarket meat has sometimes trouble staying on the good side of the 100 franks a kilo limit, Switzerland is rich and Google doesn't pay badly. It is a matter of high quality standards and you get what you pay for: Zurich is expensive but also the most liveable city of the planet.

For example, you can swim in the river for free. For the Swiss the swiming being free is the notable part of that sentence, for the rest of the world probably more the fact that you can swim in the river without protective clothing. Actually the Swiss declare proudly that the water of the Lake Zurich is of better quality than drinking water in most countries (and is certified drinkable). Anyway, but it doesn't have to be free. The Swiss have the notion of Badies, swimming pools, except for that these are actually wooden constructs floating on the river with a hole in the middle where you can swim. For 6 franks you can go in and swim in the hole, which is the river. Many people do.

The Bahnhofstrasse is another example. They just don't sell cheap stuff. And to drive the point further home, there is one ATM that allows you to withdraw money only if you ask for more than a thousand franks (which is slightly over 800 US dollars).

Back to the title of this Blog. Calling with a cell phone can be. I have a prepaid phone and pay about 69 rappen (1/100 of a frank) per minute. Oh well, it does come with GPRS access and the GPRS access even works outside of Switzerland and if you stick to simple Google queries, how expensive can that be. Let me tell you.

I couldn't call anymore and had to put new money in my prepaid account. 50 franks I put in. But after typing the 16 digits security code, it told me that my new balance was now 32 franks. Odd. So I called the phone company people. They told me that I probably had gotten a negative balance and that that could happen if I used the Internet outside of Switzerland. Well, I had accessed Google 3 times in Germany, but I didn't really see how that could have gotten me from a positive number to minus 18 or so. The lady on the phone wasn't so sure and wanted to lookup some numbers.

While I waited, the word 'thieving' went in my head searching for the word 'bastards' just to be ready, you know, which was a good thing, because they made a descriptive duo for sunrise, the phone company in question: they charge you 2.50 SFrs per access (I thought this was supposed to be an always on network) plus a whopping 80 Franks per megabyte. Still seems stiff for three searches, but it is possible.

So that's why I sometimes have to say: Switzerland is expensive.