Saturday, May 3, 2014

Disappearing trust

The Swiss are trusting. They use honor boxes to sell cheese; train passengers are expected to punch their own tickets before boarding; florists leave thousands of francs worth of flowers, plants and packaged soil outside shops over the weekends; car salesmen hand over keys before receiving the money; and businesses extend credit to customers by allowing them to purchase by invoice.

According to the Swiss Mail Order Association, 89% of Swiss online merchandise is purchased using invoices.

But times are changing. The use of credit checks, credit cards and Paypal is increasing. Insurance companies are starting to sell credit insurance.  Businesses are getting wiser. When I applied for a credit card a few years ago, the bank required me to deposit the equivalent of my maximum credit limit into a savings account.

Recently, an architect friend has run into problems with an American client, who is refusing to pay his and other contractors' bills using outrageous excuses and tactics. All the workers are stunned. They don't understand how people can behave this way. My friend said such clients are ruining the Swiss way of doing things.

What can I say? A sign of the times...

Gone fishing — literally

As you may have noticed, I've been absent from the Swiss Alps, due to the fact that I've been fishing off the New England coast. T...