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Old 14.10.2020, 09:06
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Rude Customs guy

Was crossing back into Switzerland two weeks back after a trip to Salzburg and was stopped by the Customs chap at the border. Guy barked at me in German, refused to acknowledge the fact that I couldn't understand what he was saying and just kept screaming at me in German before finally giving up and waving me on. I was in a car with a Vaud number plate so I could well have been a French speaking resident and not one who has not 'bothered' to learn one of the local languages.
Nothing happened but is this kind of treatment normal?
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Old 14.10.2020, 09:13
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Re: Rude Customs guy

If he didn’t understand English wouldn’t it be a great opportunity to abuse him back?
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Old 14.10.2020, 09:17
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Re: Rude Customs guy

Crossing the border at Chiasso with ZH plates a few years ago the border guard there asked me directly in German how many bottles of wine were in the car. I believe you were just unlucky.
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Old 14.10.2020, 09:23
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Re: Rude Customs guy

What was rude about it?

Tom
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Old 14.10.2020, 09:30
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Re: Rude Customs guy

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What was rude about it?
Seems it was the "tone" and "volume":

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kept screaming at me

There's no excuse for an officer to scream at you. He didn't attempt to communicate in any other language, i.e. French or English at all? That seems SO odd to me.

Did you cross in Schaanwald, at the Liechtenstein border? They're usually quite chilled (for Border officers, at least), and although I crossed there a gazillion times I never had any issues.
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Old 14.10.2020, 09:40
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Re: Rude Customs guy

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There's no excuse for an officer to scream at you. He didn't attempt to communicate in any other language, i.e. French or English at all? That seems SO odd to me.

Did you cross in Schaanwald, at the Liechtenstein border? They're usually quite chilled (for Border officers, at least), and although I crossed there a gazillion times I never had any issues.
I suspect more probably Au or St Margrethen but I've come across the occasional unpleasant one at all 3. Particularly if you get a VAT form stamped.
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Old 14.10.2020, 09:44
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Re: Rude Customs guy

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I suspect more probably Au or St Margrethen but I've come across the occasional unpleasant one at all 3. Particularly if you get a VAT form stamped.
Unpleasant I agree with. They want to look tough. The more subtle the nod for you to just "move along" the better some of them feel, it seems. That air of superiority they seem to want to project sometimes, I don't like. But every time they asked me a question, they were correct or even corteous, and the few times I used the tax refund everyone was...well, just normal.
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Old 14.10.2020, 09:50
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Re: Rude Customs guy

It's rare but happened to me too. The logic of federal agents (of a federation with 4 languages), who's half job is to communicate with foreigners coming in and out of the country, that get pissed off by people not talking their language - is beyond my understanding
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Old 14.10.2020, 09:53
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Re: Rude Customs guy

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Was crossing back into Switzerland two weeks back after a trip to Salzburg and was stopped by the Customs chap at the border. Guy barked at me in German, refused to acknowledge the fact that I couldn't understand what he was saying and just kept screaming at me in German before finally giving up and waving me on. I was in a car with a Vaud number plate so I could well have been a French speaking resident and not one who has not 'bothered' to learn one of the local languages.
Nothing happened but is this kind of treatment normal?
Oh no!
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Old 14.10.2020, 10:03
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Re: Rude Customs guy

Probably a stupid question but, Austrian or Swiss checkpoint?
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Old 14.10.2020, 10:04
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Re: Rude Customs guy

I think they're just bored. This is a LOOOOONG story, but bear with me, it's worth it (all the names and addresses have been changed, by the way):

It was back in summer of 2006 or 2007. My wife and kids were away visiting family abroad, so I was along, and on a sunny Sunday I drove to Bregenzerwald on my motorcycle for the day. It's just a 30min. drive for me, so I didn't bring anything along, not even a bottle of water.

On the way back, in the late afternoon, I crossed the border and the bored border officer stopped me. "What do you have on you?" he asked me.
- Nothing
- Papers?

So here it goes. I take off my gloves, helmet, open my jacket, take out my wallet and give him my Ausländerausweis. Back then it was a little paper booklet (no like the current credit-card format), which featured your address.

- You live in Limsergässli 7?
- Mmmm, yeah, that's my address.
- Hey, Michael ! This guy lives in Limsergässli 7 !!! - he screamed at another bored officer, sitting on a bench close by.

So the second officer approaches.

- What's in the bags? - referring to my saddle bags.
- Nothing, they're empty.
- Show me

So I get off the bike, open the bags, show them they're empty.

- So you live in Limsergässli. Do you know Peter?

As it turned out, Peter, my next door neighbour, was also a border officer.

- Oh, yeah, of course I know Peter and Yolanda. They're my neighbors. My kids and their kids...
- Kruwel? You're also Dutch?
- What? No....Yolanda, his wife, is Dutch. I'm not.
- Oh, where are you from? Let me see - and proceeds to take my ID from the first officer.

A bored, third officer must have been watching this little scene play out: two officers talking to a guy on a black bike, wearing black leather, a black helmet, checking papers and saddlebags. So he comes out too.

- I'm from Argentina.
- Hey, Horst, this guy is Peter's friend. He's from Argentina.
- Oh, Argentina! Maradona. "Don't cry for me Argentina" - and they started singing the musical song.

All the while I'm there, alone, surrounded by 3 officers, singing the Evita song at full volume. And I'm wondering "Where's the prank camera?"

Morale: not all of them are bad, all the time.
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Old 14.10.2020, 10:07
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Re: Rude Customs guy

It has never happened to me but it is entirely possible that the dude was simply having an off day and you caught the brunt of it. Not pleasant but as long as he didn't inconvenience anything other than your sense of pride, just move on with your life.
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Old 14.10.2020, 10:59
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Re: Rude Customs guy

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Probably a stupid question but, Austrian or Swiss checkpoint?
"Back into Switzerland" - so Swiss (unless something has changed significantly and the Austrians give a damn about people leaving now).
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Old 14.10.2020, 11:06
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Re: Rude Customs guy

Are you sure he wasn't just telling you off for going into a quarantined zone - Salzburg is on the list of places where you need to go into mandator quarantine for 10 days after returning. And you would need to have registered locally on your return:



https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en/home...nreisende.html
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Old 14.10.2020, 11:17
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Are you sure he wasn't just telling you off for going into a quarantined zone - Salzburg is on the list of places where you need to go into mandator quarantine for 10 days after returning. And you would need to have registered locally on your return:



https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en/home...nreisende.html
Nope, this was before Salzburg was added to the list.
I do not know the name of the checkpoint but we were on the route from Lindau to St. Gallen.

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And I'm wondering "Where's the prank camera?

Morale: not all of them are bad, all the time.
Of course, yes. In fact the only reason I posted this is because I have found officials in Switzerland to be uniformly polite and this experience was a bit of shock because of this.

You are unlucky - if this had happened more recently, you would have become a Youtube sensation.

Last edited by roegner; 14.10.2020 at 11:26. Reason: Merging consecutive posts
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Old 14.10.2020, 15:01
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Re: Rude Customs guy

Maybe you can get a card printed up "Ich kann kein Deutsch...."
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Old 14.10.2020, 15:27
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Re: Rude Customs guy

I got stopped once at the France/Switzerland border. The guard asked me something in Swiss German - but I didn't get it. So he asked again in High German - didn't recognise the phrase. I said "Vielliecht Englisch?". He responded in the negative, looking a bit glum. Then he had an idea "Avez vous quelque chose à declarer".

Aha - declarer - that's declare. He must be asking me if I've anything to declare.

- Nein.

All smiles and he waved me on.

The problem is there are so many ways they ask it. "Have your brought anything back?" "Do you have anything with you?" "Did you buy something?". Add dialect into the mix and at least for beginners, you're bound to encounter it somewhere.
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Old 14.10.2020, 15:38
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Re: Rude Customs guy

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I got stopped once at the France/Switzerland border. The guard asked me something in Swiss German - but I didn't get it. So he asked again in High German - didn't recognise the phrase. I said "Vielliecht Englisch?". He responded in the negative, looking a bit glum. Then he had an idea "Avez vous quelque chose à declarer".

Aha - declarer - that's declare. He must be asking me if I've anything to declare.

- Nein.

All smiles and he waved me on.

The problem is there are so many ways they ask it. "Have your brought anything back?" "Do you have anything with you?" "Did you buy something?". Add dialect into the mix and at least for beginners, you're bound to encounter it somewhere.
It’s usually ‘... chose á declarer’ around here. They are so busy ... !
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Old 14.10.2020, 15:56
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Re: Rude Customs guy

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There's no excuse for an officer to scream at you.
German generally sounds like screaming, regardless of the volume level.

Tom
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Old 14.10.2020, 17:50
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Re: Rude Customs guy

I don’t fear customs officers. I’ve nothing to hide other than the crack in my ass.
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