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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:
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Kauf und Verkauf
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!