Friday, June 08, 2007

Thanks a Whole Hell of a lot Mr. Morgan

In the US when you buy something in a store you generally have two options: cash or credit. More and more you have debit too. Generally, people don't care which one you use. Cash is always accepted.

Now welcome to Austria. Credit cards are rarely accepted (generally off of the hardcore tourist track the credit cards signs disappear damn quick), super markets never accept them (most Austrians find the idea of grocery story accepting credit cards abhorrent), and if you do somehow manage to use a credit card for a smallish purchase the sales people will probably think you are a criminal who stole someone credit card.

So that all bothers me. But to be fair, they do do more with debit cards here. Yet the best ones are really the places that accept neither credit cards, nor debit cards, nor cash. Yes they want direct bank transfers so they never have to deal with the cash, it just means the money magically appears in their account. All fine in well, if it didn't involve you having to go find out how much it cost, then going to the bank filling out the form, and then having to go back to the original place where you needed pay for the thing, show them the bank transfer form and then finally get whatever the hell it was you needed to do all of that for. The fact that opening hours are much shorter than in the US, lunch break are much longer, pretty much nothing is open Saturday, and there are far more random holidays when businesses close down makes all of this a lot of fun.

How could it get any worse? Well when I needed to buy travel insurance for Russian today (less than 20 euros) I was told that they didn't accept credit cards, debit cards, cash, or normal account to account bank transfers, rather you had to to go to the bank give them cash, pay a fee for paying in cash and then they would transfer the money to the business. Apparently that would be faster than a normal bank transfer. You know what would be even faster? Accepting the cash I had with me when I went to your business in the first place.

What kills me here is like to give you only one way of paying for things and then attach a fee. There is often both a credit card fee and a cash fee. But if that is the only payment you offer then that is your fault, and if you really want the money then it isn't an optional fee, it is just the price.

So morale of this story: paying is so much easier in the US! You don't have to carry around loads of cash, if you do they will accepts it, and either way they are unlikely to make you go through a complicated bank transfer system that will penalize you for paying with cash, the most basic form of money. They want you moeny in America and don't make it so difficult for you to give it to them. Glory to the evil capitalist empire!

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