Saturday 12 September 2015

Berlin: The price tag misery in Germany

A drift from purpose
Being exhausted from a number of unexplainable things resulting in lacking focus and losing my drive that I was not being as productive as I would have liked, I had to get away.
It is quite possible that having not yet taken an annual holiday in over a year, I have become lethargic and somewhat listless, the concern of what to do for my 50th birthday in December is beginning to weigh on my mind too.
At this and I planned at the very last minute a weekend in Berlin where it is very possible all I will do is sleep in my hotel and get some rest whilst the world moves on, invariably, this will not help and it adds to my utter discomfiture.
No sleep for the determined
Yet, I still have some of that sharpness in my rather tired head, I have only just caught up on the sleep I lost for a whole night. Occupied by thoughts, I decided to fix my trusty Toshiba NB100 notebook. It runs an Intel Atom CPU and though it is specified to take just 1GB of RAM, at the point of sale, the shop manager replaced it with a 2GB module and it worked and that at no extra cost.
This was about 8 years ago, then it had Microsoft Windows XP which I upgraded to Microsoft Windows 7 and a few months ago I installed the Microsoft Windows 10 Preview which worked for a few days but the WiFi dongle that worked in the earlier version of Microsoft Windows conked out when I tried to update the drivers in Microsoft Windows 10 and with it an inability to boot up.
Nothing I did could fix the problem, even wiping the system and starting from scratch, so insomnia gave me the opportunity to start with the installation of Microsoft Windows 8.1 Professional and the Microsoft Office 2013 Professional, it was slow, especially the Click-to-run aspect that took almost a day.
Not what it says on the price tag
Anyway, I arrived in Berlin and decided to get a German SIM card for my dual-SIM phone, I walked into the electronics shop, asked for a SIM card and was presented with one that gave me a number of call minutes, a Short Message Service (SMS) texts and 1GB of data.
The SIM envelope had €9.90 printed on it, but I was being charged €19.95, at least that was what was on the till. So, I asked then to explain how they arrived at €19.95, the shopkeeper said he knows, but he could not show me how the figures add up.
I guess this is an interesting difference I have found between the United Kingdom and German, in the former, the price tag attached to an item takes precedent, in the latter, the price displayed at the till takes precedent. I was having none of it.
I got a better deal
For instance, so what happens if you go shopping based on the price tags or on an advertised price and find that at the till you are paying more than what the price tags indicated? The whole reason for price tags is obviated if the price of goods you want to purchase remains a mystery. I can understand if you need to barter, but a shop that uses price tags on goods must always match that price with what eventually gets displayed at the till.
In my view, it was a raw deal, and maybe in jest or seriousness, the shop manager said I will remember them after our exchange and dispute, indeed, I will remember them for failing to prove to me how they came to the price they wanted to charge me, besides, as I told them, I will probably get a better deal in town.
I did, for the same price, I got 5GB data, but the Germans desperately need a Trade Descriptions Act something that takes the mystery of pricing away from the price tag being some guidance that might only be proven at the till where you are probably embarrassed to pay up, because that is the norm – one I will never subscribe to.

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