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Old 11.08.2011, 10:53
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Begging on the train?

I was on the train yesterday going out of Zürich HBB when a woman approached from behind. I thought first she was a conductor so started reaching for my ticket before I properly saw her. Usually the conductors arrive from both directions at once anyway .

She wasn't one though and she wanted to hand me an A4 print off, folded in the shape of a card. She had more of these under her arm. Now I've experienced this kind of thing before but not in Switzerland so I didn't know what to think at first.

I didn't make any move to take it out of her hand, and I asked her in Swiss German nicely what she wanted. She muttered something in another language and indicated again that I should take this and read it. Without taking it, I gave it a quick look over and it was written in German and something about her needing money. So I asked her in German this time what did she need money for but this time there was no reply but she started looking a little hostile. I do give money if I have spare change but I usually only have enough for what I need each day and I would have had to go to the bank machine again if I gave her my change so I told her, trying English now that I was sorry but I couldn't give her money and I that I didn't want to read the piece of paper either.

After a bit of a stare off she got the message that I wasn't budging so she moved back the way she came again and went back to a couple who had already gotten one of her sheets. She just stood there until they gave her money, I think to just get rid of her and went back down car. She got off the same stop too so I was thinking about walking home rather than wait for the bus and be heckled again by her but she went asking people waiting for the train back into Zürich instead.

I've never seen this kind of thing on the train before, and I'm always a little hesitant that it's a major scam where it's a ring operation and someone else is profiting from people's generosity.

I know there are previous similar threads, but is this a normal occurrence or has anyone else experienced this recently?

Did I Get Taken by Beggar on SBB?

Police target begging gang masterminds
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Old 11.08.2011, 10:58
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Re: Begging on the train?

I saw some on our trains here, between LS and GE. Same ol' shtick as those pseudo mute/deaf/blind organized beggars with some kind of laminated signs you meet on the street. There has been a push to put this under control in our area.
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Old 11.08.2011, 11:01
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I saw my first beggar in Switzerland this morning outside of the Hbf in Bern. I was stunned.
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Old 11.08.2011, 11:04
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Re: Begging on the train?

It wasn't on the train - but i had a similar experience last week in Basel city centre. A guy came up, again not speaking German or English with a card with a picture of a kid on it - presumably his, but i couldnt be sure - looking for money. As I was in town, I could just say sorry and walk away. However, on a train you have a captive audience, so you probably would have a better success rate - so I can understand why.
When I lived in Paris, busking (as opposed to begging) on the train was common - and some of them were pretty good. I would give then, but like you I wouldnt give under those circumstances. I agree, you dont know who is behind it. If she cant speak german, clearly she has not produced the cards herself...
Did you tell the conductor when he came around?
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Old 11.08.2011, 11:13
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Re: Begging on the train?

I used to see a lot more when I lived near the city center in Basel...usually guys in good coats asking for money I guess most of them junkies. That story about the woman with the piece of paper is pretty common but I had never experinced it in CH only Italy and mostly France, since it is prohibited to beg in Italy (or so my Italian friends tell me)...
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Old 11.08.2011, 11:18
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Re: Begging on the train?

If you want to give money, it's best to give to an organisation that works with homeless people etc. Otherwise there is a high chance you're simply contributing to a beggar syndicate. Many of the beggars on Basel's streets come from France.

While there are instances of genuine hardship in Switzerland among the people begging, it's not very common. My experience is that genuine cases are usually quite happy to talk.
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Old 11.08.2011, 11:21
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Re: Begging on the train?

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Did you tell the conductor when he came around?
No, there wasn't any. If one had come I would have mentioned it to her or him quickly. I could have gone to the station to report it, but at the end of a long day I just want to go home to be honest.
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Old 11.08.2011, 11:31
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Re: Begging on the train?

I believe in doing some work (any work) for money, so I am against this type of begging in countries like Switzerland or Australia. I have seen this only in Basel trams a couple of times (I live in Zurich but work in Basel). What I see more is people busking on trams. I don't like this either as I feel forced/traped to listen to the music - usually not good, the old gypsy type music.

Who I prefer giving money to are buskers in outdoor spaces who are playing good/unique music. At least they are working for it and let you choose if you listen or not!
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Old 11.08.2011, 11:33
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Re: Begging on the train?

I haven't experienced this on a train here, but I did have a beggar knocking on my door the other day. I would expect this in a city but in a sleepy village!?! Our driveway is quite long too, she certainly went to some effort. When I refused she started engaging with my daughter, stalling the leaving process. I was quite angry.
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Old 11.08.2011, 11:37
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Re: Begging on the train?

I usually don't have a problem giving a few stutz to a request--if I have some spare change that isn't already allocated for some required use. Whether it's someone who 'needs a a ticket' some one who looks like they need a home or a meal.

When it comes down to it, I'm just going to waste it on alcohol and drugs and useless women anyways, so might as well share the enjoyment.
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Old 11.08.2011, 11:37
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Re: Begging on the train?

A few months ago, a guy actually came to my apartment door begging for money... and not the door to my building, but the door to my actual apartment. I'm still a bit curious how he actually got into the building.

But he had a similar M.O. -- a piece of paper with something written on it, which he handed to me.

This was one of the few instances here where my lack of fluency in German worked to my advantage.

"Sorry, me no speak German."
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Old 11.08.2011, 11:38
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Re: Begging on the train?

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I haven't experienced this on a train here, but I did have a beggar knocking on my door the other day. I would expect this in a city but in a sleepy village!?! Our driveway is quite long too, she certainly went to some effort. When I refused she started engaging with my daughter, stalling the leaving process. I was quite angry.
hmmm interesting. One thing that happened to us in the NL was that a "beggar" would come around and knock asking for money OR maybe someone selling something, turns out these were people checking to see who is home and who is not home during the day, I am telling you because after two weeks two houses next to us were burglared...I just happened to be at home working so I guess we were lucky. We used to live in a very small village too...
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Old 11.08.2011, 12:07
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Re: Begging on the train?

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That story about the woman with the piece of paper is pretty common but I had never experinced it in CH only Italy and mostly France, since it is prohibited to beg in Italy (or so my Italian friends tell me)...
I encountered this for the first time in CH on Tuesday although it was very common in France when we lived there 20!! years ago (showing my age here).

I was in Macdonald's at the railway station when this guy came in. He tried to give us a paper but I refused (knowing the MO of these people) so he moved to the old lady behind me where he got more than he bargained for. Conversation went something like this (but in french):

Man gives paper to lady who reads it

Lady : Why have you got no money for food? If you have no money you can get social aid. (aide sociale)

Man: Social aid didn't work

L: Why not? Are you here illegally?

M: No I am legal fron Roumania but they won't give me anything.

L: If you are legal they should give you something. How much do you need?

M: 1chf.

L: 1chf. What can you get for 1chf?

M: A hamburger

L: I don't think so. You need to go to social help.

After several more exchanges like this I think he gave up the will to live and left.

She then questioned other people about the cost of food there as she only goes in for a coffee and a free read of the newspaper.

The guy was prety well dressed and spoke pretty good French but after that experience I think he'll think twice about approaching little old ladies again.
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Old 11.08.2011, 12:09
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Re: Begging on the train?

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hmmm interesting. One thing that happened to us in the NL was that a "beggar" would come around and knock asking for money OR maybe someone selling something, turns out these were people checking to see who is home and who is not home during the day, I am telling you because after two weeks two houses next to us were burglared...I just happened to be at home working so I guess we were lucky. We used to live in a very small village too...
Same think if you work in your garden, lock the front door. My neighbours were burglared that way...
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Old 11.08.2011, 12:10
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Re: Begging on the train?

There is also the MO of trying to give you a flower, then they give you the paper thingy.

They are still noobs, They persist too much on the sale... don't they know that they need to change target if it doesn't immediately reaches for his pocket/bag?
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Old 11.08.2011, 12:17
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Re: Begging on the train?

To be honest, I don't give to anyone.

We give money each year to organisations. But to people directly, no. I refused to support someone's addiction, someone lazyness or criminal groups.

Organisations are there to help people who really need it. It goes straight to those in need by providing food, formations, help, etc.

I used to give to people in the street in Istanbul until I found out the criminal organisation behind it. I used to give food to the street kids instead of money because they didn't use money to buy food but to buy glue and no proper organisation was in place to help them.

But in Switzerland? Come on!
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Old 11.08.2011, 12:20
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Re: Begging on the train?

I have witnesses a disgusting scene on the market in Lausanne.

A old guy (50-70) being solicited by a female Rom beggar pretending she is disabled, and acting as such. Literary over doing it, being really close, tending hand near his face, etc...

The pitiful idiot but hand in his jacket pocket and give her... 50chf note!

The rom quickly took it and goes away. The old idiot do the same in the opposite direction.

I was already annoyed by this rom acting on fake pity, lies.

But once the guy turned his back to her, she called out another Rom female and indicate him to her!! The second rom then went toward him, probably going to ask him as well.

And of course as soon as the old idiot turned her back, her disability was gone! And a big smile lighted her face.


Now i'm really annoyed by those liars who definitely abuse and are hurting real people in need. I'm even more refusing to give charity after seeing those crooks: really feel like feeding some social parasites!
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Old 11.08.2011, 12:20
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Re: Begging on the train?

It is illegal to beg here. The town / city /SBB have rules against it.

Next time you find someone at your front door, stall the person, say wait a minute I will get you something, shut the door and call the city police, many beggars are probably illegal immigrants.

You can always give them food if you feel charitable. A friend of a friend takes them to MacDonalds and buys them a Happy Meal. I was on a train in London and a beggar came on saying he hadn't eaten and was homeless. I gave him my uneaten Gruyère cheese sandwich.
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Old 11.08.2011, 12:21
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Re: Begging on the train?

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To be honest, I don't give to anyone.

We give money each year to organisations. But to people directly, no. I refused to support someone's addiction, someone lazyness or criminal groups.

Organisations are there to help people who really need it. It goes straight to those in need by providing food, formations, help, etc.

I used to give to people in the street in Istanbul until I found out the criminal organisation behind it. I used to give food to the street kids instead of money because they didn't use money to buy food but to buy glue and no proper organisation was in place to help them.

But in Switzerland? Come on!
My issue with such organizations, is far too much money it put into advertising, marketing and payroll. "Non-profit" organization is a very misleading term. By the time it takes to find a genuinely responsible organization, my effort is long gone.
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Old 11.08.2011, 12:32
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Re: Begging on the train?

I saw this in the tram in Basel yesterday. I never gave them money. I know some of them are richer than I am in Thailand. They've got car and house. I don't have an idea for those in Switzerland. Also, I am unemployed as well.
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