The Swiss do NOT part with their money very willingly. However, I've actually managed to penetrate the tightfisted Swiss armor twice in the past few weeks.
First, I kind of negotiated a reduction in our car insurance premium without even realizing I was doing it.
We received our new insurance card and I noticed that only Mrs. TBF's name was listed. Just on a whim, I e-mailed the insurance agent (who thankfully speaks perfect English) and brought up the fact that the car title is in my name only and that I probably drive the car 95% of the time. He answered me back saying that we are both insured, but he was going to add my name to the policy anyway. I thought that was the end of it, but a couple of days later I received a new policy with my name on it. And, lo and behold, I noticed that the annual premium was now a couple of hundred francs per year less than before. Wow! I didn't even have to really do anything. Imagine that!
Upon further examination, I noticed that I was listed as a "Yankee" instead of a "Canuck". "Hmmmm....I'll have to let him know about that too," I thought. Since my German is now significantly better than it was five years ago, I thought that it might be wise to peruse the entire policy. I struggled a bit, but I managed to discover that the policy listed us as driving the car between 14,000 - 20,000 km. per year (we actually drove it less than 7,000 km. in each of the past two years), and that it's kept in an unlocked garage (it's not). So I e-mailed the insurance agent again. This time, I received no reply. However, I received a new policy a few days later showing the corrections plus an annual premium that is now SEVERAL HUNDRED FRANCS less than before!!! Wow! It kind of makes me think that we've been over-paying for the past five years, but...well, that's all water under the bridge now.
And...that's not all!
If you'll recall from about two months ago, I've been battling with our Jura coffee machine. A couple of Sundays ago, I spent a good two hours of my "day of rest" battling with the "machine that cometh from the depths of Hell"! "Enough's enough!...", I told Mrs. TBF, and proceeded to sit down at the trusty Mac and whip off an e-mail titled "My Machine is KAPUT Again!" to Jura. I won't go into the details, but I think I managed to express my displeasure with their product in a very unemotional and business-like manner. I broke down what the machine had cost me in francs per day to operate when the original purchase price and repair costs were factored into the equation. I included a rather point-blank "...I AM NOT WILLING TO SPEND ANOTHER CHF ON THIS MACHINE!" about half-way through the e-mail. Then, I boldy asked for a coupon worth 500 CHF that I could apply toward the purchase of a new machine. And finally, I went for the jugular with a rather masterful closing statement: "Whether or not I purchase another Jura machine now lies in your hands."
I didn't know if anything would come of it...but I felt pretty damned good about myself. Hey, and I managed to once again get the "old hag" running again and just sat there re-reading my "Pulitzer Prize worthy" (at least in my mind) e-mail enjoying my cup of coffee. And, just for good measure, I put our old French press right next to the Jura machine to put a scare into the old tramp by showing her that she could be replaced in a heartbeat. Let me tell ya...the bitch is scared!
Well, anyway, a week goes by and NADA! Mrs. TBF asked me a couple of times if Jura had responded to my "magnum opus", and both times I squeeked out a rather effeminate "no".
I had pretty much given up hope. That was, until I opened my mailbox on Monday afternoon after driving Mrs. TBF to the airport. Inside was a letter from Jura. I ripped it open, and here's what it said:
Thank you for your email dated January 30th, 2006. We regret that you have experienced some problems with your IMPRESSA S70.
As stated in your letter, you prefer not to have the coffee machine repaired, even though we assume that you have brewed approx. 10,000 cups of good [ahhhh...Swiss modesty] coffee with it. In September 2004, you already had 7,782 draw offs [I guess they had recorded this when repairing the machine. I had given them my customer number in the e-mail.]. This means that the coffee machine has performed appropriately in the given time frame. We can assure you that you have not bought a defective machine if it has lasted 5.5 years.
We can offer you a special price for an exchange with your IMPRESSA S70. [...blah...blah...blah...]
To bring an already way too long post to an end, Jura basically offered us the opportunity to receive a 500+ CHF credit on any of three Jura models if we bring in our old machine as an exchange. The only catch is that we have to go the factory to do it, and the price "excludes freight cost" which looks very suspicious to me. But, I'm going to go to a local Jura retailer in the next couple of days, see if Jura is actually offering me as good a price as they say they are, figure out what this "freight cost" thing is, and then (and ONLY then) Mrs. TBF and I will be driving off to the Jura factory in our now-less-expensive-to-insure Jeep to purchase ourselves a new Jura machine.