PDA

View Full Version : Freebies we get in the US and take for granted



MrSpice
April 7th, 2006, 01:17 PM
When I visited the great city of Vienna (capital of Austria) last year, I was kind of surprised when I saw my bill at a local restaurant - I was charged for each piece of bread that I ate (they put it on the table when I sat down - I did not specifically order bread) and the also charged me for the butter. Imagine that - about 50 cents for a small slice of butter they put on the table. I don't mind paying, but it was interesting to see because in NY or anywhere else in the US, you always get free bread at most restaurants. They also often charge for plastic shopping bags in supermarkets.

Schadenfrau
April 7th, 2006, 02:04 PM
Health care. Oh, wait...

ryan
April 7th, 2006, 02:37 PM
The plastic bag fee is a really excellent idea - mean to discourage the massive consumption of these bags that will pretty much never degrade. Like a soda can deposit.

Ninjahedge
April 7th, 2006, 03:15 PM
We have tried similar here on the bags, except you get a few cents back for every one you return.

If you also look, things like beer bottle in Austria have wear marks along ths side from being used and re-used so many times. That is another thing I would like to se ehere.

As for charging for the bread and butter, that is just silly and pennypinching and I agree it should not be done.

Just like: Not including taxes in the price listed at restaurants
Including a gratuity in the bill even if you were not satisfied with the service.
Charging large ammounts for minor accoutriments (such as rice at an asian food restaurant. $1 per bowl is something many of my asian friends wince at).

I guess it all depends on how you see things.

czsz
April 7th, 2006, 07:11 PM
In Germany they charge for every supermarket bag. It's nice, though, that the shopping carts are rentable, so you can push them home. Also, the return value on plastic bottles is huge; I once returned two weeks' worth of bottles there and it not only paid for my groceries for the next week, I made a profit!

Another little charge is that for bathroom attendants who supervise public bathrooms- typically a euro or so. Supposedly optional, but as with any tip, they'll chase after you if you don't supply it. In Poland there are ticket booths for some bathrooms!

lofter1
April 7th, 2006, 07:53 PM
If I had the choice I'd go for a small tip to use a clean public restroom over the option of no bathrooms at all. Unfortunately NYers have very few public restrooms -- despite promises from various city administrations and an unending competition / contracting process.

Azazello
April 8th, 2006, 01:03 AM
MrSpice, I knew by just reading the recent titles in the RSS feed that you had made these posts: "Unemployment Rate Dips to 4.5 Year Low of 4.7 Percent", this one. You are stalwart and true. Never change.

I'm not sure where people are eating out but where I go a lot of these freebies are going, gone, charged. I've noticed that bread no longer appears on the table - you have to ask for it. Haven't yet been charged, but it'll come, won't need to wait very long.

Coffee, a long time freebie from before all of our times (maybe?), is also not getting refilled without asking. Tea, or rather teabags, have always been a point of contention. Places will gladly give you more hot water, but if you ask for another bag, you can almost see the moral dilemma in the server's eyes: free, or not to free, that is the question...

NOT getting stuff for free overseas is common. I can't remember getting free bread in any country except Costa Rica (even though I was having a big starchy rice, beans and casava dish) and one place in Switzerland (because the owner knew me and my bud, we would eat there all the time).

The bottle water scam, er, issue seems ubiquitous. To me it happened in France, Italy and Greece: the bottle is put on the table almost before you sit down. If you're not quick enough to tell them NOT to open it, it's popped, poured and cheerfully added to your bill. In Montreal, Switz, and Germany we were asked first if we wanted bottled water.

I only know the for-a-fee plastic bags from Switz, and I totally agree with the practice, so much so that I've continued it here at home. I think for 2 USD you got a really sturdy, long-lasting bag, about the size of the oldstyle paper bags (remember them?). If you forgot it, you either had to buy another or, if lucky, they had some typical plastic bags that were so thin they were practically useless beyond maybe one trip. Maybe.

If you too recycle bags in the US, you've noticed that you have to almost wrestle with the cashier to not get another set of plastic. (I use extras as trash bags but still get swamped if I'm not diligent)

Let's talk recycling. Our Swiss friends got it down pat. Recycling is MANDATORY for every residence. You will get charged a fine if the items are not sorted properly. They even have recycling "police" (not really, but it's fun to think of them that way!) who go around and actually check for offenders. Extreme bureaucracy, or progressive environmentalism? You decide.

A little social engineering - read: make 'em pay for it - sometimes has to be used in order to get people to wake up to their "privileges."

dboss66man
April 18th, 2006, 03:21 PM
Let's talk recycling. Our Swiss friends got it down pat. Recycling is MANDATORY for every residence. You will get charged a fine if the items are not sorted properly. They even have recycling "police" (not really, but it's fun to think of them that way!) who go around and actually check for offenders. Extreme bureaucracy, or progressive environmentalism? You decide.

A little social engineering - read: make 'em pay for it - sometimes has to be used in order to get people to wake up to their "privileges."

Man, that's not even just extreme bureaucracy. That's the Recycling Nazis in Action! I recycle some things, some things I don't - and not all the time when I do. Like we need cops running amok telling us we've got our plastic mixed up with our cardboard!

lofter1
April 18th, 2006, 03:36 PM
But really -- how difficult is it to separate your paper from your plastic?

Fabrizio
April 18th, 2006, 04:02 PM
"... but it was interesting to see because in NY or anywhere else in the US, you always get free bread at most restaurants."

Sorry, but I gotta a chuckle out of this. You get free bread ...but you also get a "sales tax" and you´ve got to tip at least 15% (20% in a high end place is normal). Also: I can´t eat without wine... so add a good standard red, and a bottle of sparkling water.... and watch how it tallies up. One thing I will say though ...in the US...outside of NYC anyway... you usually do get enourmous, pig-out, vat loads of food for your money.

User Name
April 18th, 2006, 08:52 PM
But really -- how difficult is it to separate your paper from your plastic?
I tried recycling once. They didn't take anything I had dutifully separated and set out so now it all goes in the trash.