EXPATS AGAIN! Experiencing other cultures while enriching our global view.



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Munich, Germany
I am married to the love of my life and am finally able to shower him with all of the attention he deserves. I am now retired and living the life here in Europe. I am an American, he is an Australian, and this is our second overseas address. The first was Shanghai, China and now Munich, Germany. Come along and live the life with us as we continue our adventure of discovering all Europe has to offer.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009


Yummy!Image via Wikipedia

One problem I am facing while living in Germany is not knowing if a special sale or bargain is being advertised since I don't speak or read German, yet. So, although there may be a sale or a discount, I would have a difficult time recognizing it.

According to my constant companion, LEO (the English to German online translator), here are some German words that apparently mean "on sale:

der Kaufvertrag

KEEP THIS COUPONImage by striatic via Flickr

Kauf und Verkauf

notarieller Vertrag

der Ausverkauf

der Gelegenheitskauf

günstige Gelegenheit

Exactly how they differ with respect to connotation, I'm not quite sure, but they are words that I should remember so that I might take advantage of any savings while shopping. I'm not aware if the German retail market offers coupons or savings incentives as the American retail market does, but I intend to learn.

This week, back in the states, I was presented with a free oil change from our Honda dealership when I took my CRV into the service repair shop and received the third punch on my key card. That was at least a savings of $29.99! Also this week, when I called Seagate Technologies to order a power cord for my external hard drive that was lost in our move to Munich, I was told it would be sent to me free of charge. Probably at least another $10 saved. Last week I took the kids to see the movie Aliens in the Attic and before it finished, there was a brown out. Guess what? We were given three free tickets to the theater to see another movie! I'm guessing the tickets were easily $30 in total. (I still don't know if the aliens or the humans prevailed, however...).

Here in the states we enjoy free refills on soda, free fresh produce from our church praise garden, and the same Honda service center offered me a free car wash after the free oil change. Do these things happen in Germany? Hard for me to tell.

After five months of living in Munich, if there are bargains to be had, I'm not yet aware of them. Comparison shop? At the moment I'm using my i-phone camera to record the prices at various shops in the hopes of finding out where I might make the most educated purchase. Short of that, I'm at a loss.

It's a learning curve, that's for sure. I'm not saying I'm the queen of 30%, but I would like to have the advantage of getting the same savings offered to me as the next customer. However, without knowledge of the language, I'm really at the shop keepers' mercy.

Another phenomena is that some of the retail clerks just assume that I'm an American tourist and I won't ever return to their place of business. I know this because I have heard them say to me,"Thank you, and I hope you enjoy your visit to Munich," after ringing up my purchase. This assumption might also prevent them from presenting me with information about specials, sales, or future bargains.

Shortly after I arrived in Munich, my husband and I approached a produce vendor about purchasing white asparagus and I learned something else about being a foreigner. At the produce stand, I reached out to select what I determined to be the freshest asparagus spears, but the clerk swiped my hand away and indicated that she was responsible for selecting the vegetable for me. I watched as she chose the less fresh, older spears. Unable to communicate with her, I just shook my head and wondered if she thought that my being an American meant I didn't recognize fresh produce? I'll never know.

The good news is that being uninformed as a result of a language barrier is easily remedied. Just one more reason to learn German!

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Frau said...

OMG you are speaking my language...every thing you are saying as happen to me. I have no clue what's on sale of specials. I rarely buy anything but food. It's too expensive and the quality is not the same.I'm in Utah now visiting and am bring back two suitcases full of goods. School clothes for my daughter..mostly jeans and sneakers. Plus a ton of stuff from Costco, like vitamins and cold meds etc.. My parents look at me like I'm crazy but I really buy nothing but food all year long.
Even when I speak the little German I know they always know and answer in English.

cliff1976 said...

The good news is that being uninformed as a result of a language barrier is easily remedied. Just one more reason to learn German!

I hope it's easy for you — it's definitely not easy for everyone.

I have heard them say to me,"Thank you, and I hope you enjoy your visit to Munich," after ringing up my purchase. This assumption might also prevent them from presenting me with information about specials, sales, or future bargains.

I am doubtful about that. Retail salesmanship does not seem to be as prevalent in the merchant-consumer relationship here, at least as compared to my experiences as a consumer and mall-job-dude and pizza bistro waiter in the U.S. I don't think they're not informing you of specials, sales, or future bargains because they assume you're a tourist, but rather because they just don't do that. But you can combat the tourist impression you're making with improved language skills, as you mentioned, and also adopting a more local dress code. When we're out and around in town in Regensburg, Sarah and I enjoy playing "spot the tourist" and "spot the German home visitng Mama und Papa." Of course, in cosmopolitan Munich, I assume this is both easier (easier to eavesdrop) and harder (greater diversity of cultural exposure).

Viel Spaß!

Pastor St. John said...

I'm enjoying your blog!

hezamarie said...

Check out your local neighborhood newspaper (it's usually chucked on the house stoop every Wednesday). It usually has adverts from all the local chains in your area. I found these to be helpful in learning German too.

Expats Again said...

Thank you so much, all, for your replies. I am in the states and FRAU, I sure know what you mean about buying the products you use in the states. I'm filling my suitcase with Tony Packo's hot dog sauce and pickles (made locally), knitting and crochet manuals (in English), Pam (spritzer), and allergy tablets. Isn't shopping t Costco wonderful for the psyche?

CLIFF, I wondered if there was a merchant/consumer retail relationship as you explained. Now, thanks to your experiences, I know! This is heartening to know rather than my assumption. I LOVE the game you and your wife play, "Spot the tourist." How fun! You'll have to share the recognizable features with me. If you know a way to identify an Aussie, let me know. My husband is Australian and it would be a hoot!

PASTOR ST. JOHN: Thank you for your kind comments. I'm glad you're stopping by. Please visit often :-)

HEZMARIE: I do get those, but I haven't looked at them because I thought I wouldn't comprehend them. I've generally tossed them into the bin. You make a good point about leaning from them. I will give it a go. It should be fun.