Friday, June 19

Numbers Games

Yesterday, I was contacted by my gym with an enticing offer on my renewal: “Same as last year, with 2 months free!!!, or, "Choose a fab FREE trip offer for a weekend -- yours, for only 185 euro more!!!”
What a deal. Almost too good to be true. It was.

Anyone who has lived in Italy long enough knows they need to park their American-style FREE offer mentality right at the front door. America, with its gross “all-you-can-eat buffets”, if tried in Europe, would have been bankrupt right after that very first Thanksgiving dinner. In Italy, don’t even THINK about going up to the buffet table twice, and, try piling it on, you’re charged more in the end. Even McDonalds charges extra for the ketchup.

In Italy, your Frequent Flyer mileage card is yours, for only 150 euro per year! Every month you receive an update of services on your CartaViaggio by Italy’s illustrious TrenItalia, the company that has singlehandedly taken price gauging to new heights; except the listing includes all the new services you no longer will be receiving, along with a price increases of the most basic ones. They even tried getting us to clean up the cars for them; that didn’t fly, so pretty soon we’ll soon be charged for cleaning service alĂ  RyanAir…

Collect points at your Grocery store or Gas Station? You can get your free toaster or CD player by submitting 10,489 of them (the equivalent of 2800 euro in expenses), and then claim your gift for another 129 euro – free! Every Christmas, I present myself at the GS store to get a truly free gift, only to find they’re ‘sold out’, try back tomorrow. Too bad the points expire at year end. I’ve yet to get as much as a mere frying pan out of GS.

After all, this is the country that has duped 40 million workers into believing they actually get an extra paycheck each August holiday and Christmas. In a purely 3-card monty card game, they have merely taken your annual pay and divided it by 14 months. For a country based on mistrust of every institution, there isn’t an Italian in Italy who believes this last statement to be true. Don’t ask me why.

As for my Wellness Town offer? The two months are NOT free – you just don’t pay for 2 months straight away, and then pay an added amount each month for the remaining 10 months. Saying, 'no thanks' to the “free” trip, I received another call later:

“We have a new offer to make you. If you renew now, you’ll receive a free trip along with your membership.” Is it a case of severe Cognitive Dissonance, or, simply hoping you have early onset Alzheimers???


Dave514 said...

Well, what do you expect?

It's just another example of Italian Chaos!


Jacques said...

Since I've been an aficionado and frequenter of McD's for close to, if not over forty years, I've always found the paying for ketchup part hard to swallow, so to speak. But I suppose it's a European thing as much as Italian. Imagine my surprise last summer in Amsterdam's airport McD's asking for mayonnaise, paying extra for it, and then getting something sort of like tartar sauce with green bits in the middle. And then they tried to tell me that ALL McDonald's mayonnaise has actually always been special sauce (but it was NOT the Big Mac special sauce, by a long shot, I can guarantee after hundreds of Big Macs under my belt over the decades). Oh, and the girl at the cash register tried to hand me unwrapped straws with the same ungloved hands that she had used to accept the payment of at least the previous four customers that I had seen, and seemed offended when I asked for wrapped straws (well, it was before swine/HXN1Vsomething/nuova flu)...

As to the rest of the freebies, particularly TrenItalia&co, for an annual fee, first they gave discounts & extra services & Eurostar lounges in all the major stations, then they eliminated the discounts, now the points only last 18 months, and then they closed several of the nearby lounges (es.: Mestre) and now they are reducing the hours for the offices and extra ticket offices to ridiculously minimal amounts (recently in Mestre it was like 9-12 & 15-17??? WTF this is for the business traveller, theoretically, who may not be interested in arriving to Milan or Rome at 2:30 PM). And the ticket offices in both Venice and Mestre close at 9PM. Done Did it lights out all home. One of the main tourist drags in all of Italy... 9PM roll up the carpets like the Nebraska countryside. Not one single sportello open.

Don't get me started on the Eurostar "included services" that cost more than airflight, but don't include even a newspaper any more, much less a complimentary glass of water and stale cookies. You can't even buy them onboard anymore, unless you can track down the cart along one of the dozen carriages, since the restaurant/cafeteria car has been eliminated in most trains which cost an extra €5-10 compared to before...

Oh well, welcome to the twentyfirst century in Italy.

Carol said...

but things have improved.. you no longer have to pay to open and/or close a bank account. so, doing either of those is now free! imagine that.