21 Oktober. 2020

Coronavirus update and online shopping

Covid seems to be taking up more and more of the news over here. Switzerland, like the rest of Europe, seems to be well into our second wave of the virus. The number of daily new cases is now higher than it was back in March and April. The numbers had been climbing slowly for the last two months, but then about the first of Oktober it got chilly, and cases skyrocketed. The good news about the number of cases going up is that so far the number of hospital cases is lower than the spring, and the number of deaths is WAY lower. I guess the medical community has been learning over the last 7 months how to treat this virus.

The government has now made masks mandatory all over the country, before this week different cantons (states) had mask requirements, but now masks are mandatory everywhere. There is also talk about mini lockdowns. By mini, I believe the government is talking about local. For example, Zürich might go under lockdown for two or three weeks, but Luzern would not. I think the government is really trying to avoid a nationwide lockdown again.

We do have our anti maskers here as well. That being said, you don’t see to much of them. They do protest in Bern frequently, but it doesn’t make much of a splash in the news. There is a 10000 CHF fine for not wearing a mask. Well technically, the fine is for trespass. You see the Government will not fine you for NOT wearing a mask. They will fine you for NOT leaving once you are asked. The police if called, will ask you to leave, and if you leave nothing happens. This really cuts down on the number of “Karen” incidents. From what I can tell, we have only had one here.

We have had some cases of “panic” buying again. I put quotes around the word panic, because it is not because of shortages. You have heard me say time and time again how expensive things are over here. Well the news paper, earlier this week, said that the average shopping cart of goods costs about 156 euros here in Switzerland, but only 107 euros in Germany, 109 in France, and 98 euros in Italy. So people that live near the borders are making their normal shopping trips, but are binge buying staples.

toilet paper binge buying

The picture above was from a train coming from Germany. I am not sure how the person got that many bundles of toilet paper to the train station; let alone how they will get it all off in time when they get to their home station. The fear is that the borders will close again. I am guessing those fears are well founded, but at this point who knows. I don’t think any government wants to go to the severe lockdowns we had this spring; yes they work, but at what cost? At some point, we either learn to live with this thing and embrace a new normal, or let the virus simply run it’s course and live with the pain while we wait for herd immunity that may never come.

an interesting shopping experience

A week ago, I wound up locking myself out of my apartment. I was taking out the garbage, and right before going out the door I patted my pocket to make sure I had keys. Well, I got to the door and went to unlock it, but it turned out I had coins in my pocket not my keys. I would have really out of luck, as it was raining, but I had put on shoes, and for some reason grabbed my rain jacket as well. :). I was finally able to get back in but it involved over an hour as I had to go to Julie’s office and get her key. So I started looking for a hide a key.

Online shopping is just as important here, as it is in the US. The difference of course, is that there is no Amazon.com. Yes, we could order from Amazon if we set up a mailbox in Germany, but that would involve two hours on the train, or an hour in a car just to pick up a package. That seems like a waste to me. Big companies over here take payments just like they do everywhere else. They will take a credit card, paypal, TWINT, or Apple pay. The small companies, though are sometimes different.

I found a company called Keysafe Switzerland. Just like their name implies they sell nothing but key safes. Some of these are meant to be mounted on the wall, but they sold some that are designed for the mail boxes. Mail boxes here have two compartments. The top one is locked, and it is where the post office delivers your letters. The bottom part is bigger, it is unlocked, and it is for large envelopes, and small packages. The key safe I found has a strong magnet so it attaches to the wall in the back of the mailbox. I went to order it, but there is no way to pay for it. You place your oder. Get a confirmation email. Then there is a bill included with the product.

I have to admit the first time I ran into this system, I was NOT a good customer. I ordered some cleaning products for the floors. I got confused when there was no way to pay for the product; so I called the company. The customer service person told me that I would get a bill later. I thought that meant they would mail me a bill. Unfortunately, the bill was enclosed with the packing slip. Now I don’t know about you, but I have never opened the packing slip on a box, unless something I ordered wasn’t there, or it was damaged, and I knew I would need it for the return. So about 6 weeks go by, and I get a nasty email from the company about not paying for the product. I called them and said I didn’t ever get a bill, that I had been looking for one. The person knew I was a stupid ExPat, so they told me the bill was with the packing slip……. They did quickly email a copy, and I paid them. I guess they were not that upset with me, because they sold to me again, and this time, I got a nice Thank You email when my payment made it there quickly! 🙂

This process seems very quaint to me. I mean when was the last time any business gave you credit without making you fill out a 10 page credit application and make a promise to give them your first born if you didn’t pay? It is just SOOOOOO 1800’s. I always thought the online payment systems for small businesses were pretty cheap. I would have thought it made more sense to set up a payment system than to give people the product and hope they would send you money. I find it hard to believe that Swiss people are more honest than people in North America, but they must be. I don’t remember any company that would give me the product and not expect payment immediately, unless terms had been arranged before hand. Part of me wants to contact the owner of KeySafe and ask him, but I am afraid that WOULD make me look like the stupid ExPat I am.

I apologize that this is not one of my better written posts. I had spent over two hours this morning writing and editing, and all of a sudden the page was blank. I’ve been using WordPress for a while now, and today was the first time that something had not auto saved for me. I should know better, I’ve worked around computers long enough to know to save my work periodically, but I had gotten in such a flow…. 🙂

Anyway, I hope you stay safe and healthy until I write again next week. Hopefully I will have some pictures of the Van Gogh Exhibit Julie and I are attending next weekend. I don’t know if they allow cameras or not, but I’m bringing one just in case…

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