Correct Change

I am not sure if this is a new thing or not, but lately I’ve noticed that as my use of German for day-to-day transactions has increased, the attempts at ripping me off have increased.

Of course, The Naschmarkt is the Naschmarkt, and one can expect to get scammed there. However, I’d argue that the scamming there is relatively benign. For example, one stall may list a product for €3,50 per kilo while the one next door might sell it for €3,30 per half kilo and smudge the little “1/2” that designates half and thereby scamming those who aren’t careful. But that scam only works on comparison shoppers — and those who hunt for bargains are unlikely to let a scam like that slide by undetected.

The other somewhat friendly scam is the relentless upsell. Only at the Naschmarkt do any Viennese salespeople exhibit this trait. You’re buying a stuffed pepper, and shorty grabs some stuffed tomatoes. “How about a couple of these?”

They look good, so you say, “sure”. He continues down the line until you suddenly have a small plastic container stuffed with €15 worth of antipasti.

But the scams I’m talking about are more insipid and, quite frankly, piss me off. Since one happened to me today, I’ll share the story — but this isn’t an isolated incident.

I guess it’s the accent. The second I open my big maw and order two Käsekrainers to go, I’m a mark. But that’s what I did today on my way home from work. I picked up a couple of sausages, two slices of bread and a beverage or two for the family. The lady was friendly enough — courteous, even, so I must have known something was up when I produced my wallet and fished out the only note I had, a crips €100 note.

She cheerfully takes the bill and very slowly and deliberately counts out my change. The only thing is, she only makes change for a €50. And instead of saying “and €20 makes €50” as she slaps down the last bill, she said something like “now all is in order. Thank you,” she sings as she turns to the next customer.

When I point out the error, she of course acts apologetic. But this has happened more than a few times in the past year or so and I’m having a hard time believing somebody who works at a kebab or Würstelstand is that bad at counting change.

Regardless, the sausage was delicious!

1 Comment so far

  1. SK Waller (unregistered) on November 24th, 2007 @ 6:21 pm

    Thanks for this tip. We’re moving to Vienna next year and will be very careful to keep an eye on this kind of seller.



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