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Old 27.03.2017, 13:28
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Why did Swiss custom officials treat me like an under human?

Trying to import a vehicle was a rather unpleasant experience.

I spare you the gory details about the paperwork & will jump to the most shocking part of it: the way I was treated.

It all happened at the Konstanz-Kreuzlinger border control.

I have traveled to many countries in the world & lived in several countries. I have rarely seen such shameful behavior.

For your information, I am a French national, so I speak French fluently. But of course, these custom officials didn't speak a word of French with me. The legend of the country with the "perfectly working multi-language culture" is... a legend.

Hence it all happened in German and Swiss-German. I speak 5 languages so I'm always happy to try German but also expect others to do efforts too. Especially when French is on the list of the official languages & interacting with a government entity. But it is not a shared feeling. Switzerland definitely is not united. Maybe it's about time to do something about it. I'd suggest adding English.

First thing first, I arrive at the border & get a regular border control check. I tell them I want to import a vehicle. They redirect me to the relevant part of the border control. I arrive at an small intersection where I turn left, then realize I may have done a mistake. I decide to not proceed further, park on the side to go ask an employee working in this booth where I should go next. I barely have the time to step off the vehicle: he leans out of his booth's window and yell at me like someone will get killed if I don't get back in the vehicle right now. I am shocked. So shocked that I don't even know if I should be upset, scared or else. I decide he must be mad and I should be sorry for him. Go back to the vehicle & drive up to his booth. He seems embarrassed, of course he should, the situation is absurd. He decides to talk to me normally & give me a small document before telling where me to park.

I am not sure I wanna dive into the rest of the story. What I went through was: repeated disrespect.

Custom officials:
- barely even looking at me when processing my documents or talking to me
- suspicions and awkward questions even when already having the information, i.e. are you a student? while he has my c permit in his hand & I told him beforehand who I work for & what my job was, then he goes "check the database" (lol). where is the chassis number? I show him & he says "it's not correct, it must be carved into the chassis" when his colleague actually previously validated what I showed
- repeated rudeness, zero manners. German customs looked like 5 stars American customer service in comparison.

I suspect that being "a little bit tanned" didn't help my case.

I could see these custom officials being very rude to almost everyone. Is this generally accepted that these people have a special right to treat people like this?

I think this is unacceptable and gives the worst possible image of Switzerland & may fill people with proportional hatred in return. If this post cannot change anything, maybe it can help people to be ready for the worst.

Note that I met Swiss custom officials in other places & it was a whole different story.
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Old 27.03.2017, 13:32
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Re: Why did Swiss custom officials treat me like an under human?

Sounds normal to me.

Tom
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Old 27.03.2017, 13:34
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Re: Why did Swiss custom officials treat me like an under human?

Did you get the car through?
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Old 27.03.2017, 13:36
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Re: Why did Swiss custom officials treat me like an under human?

I had often same treatment in Vallorbe/Chavorney and Basel customs, both times for importing vehicle. i'm not a "little bit tanned", and clearly it's not racially based due to my numerous observations there.

Say they aren't the most diplomatic people on earth, and they have full power, they can do anything and have control and final decision on that administrative task. Appealing/complaining would be even risky during the procedure, and almost impossible/not productive afterwards.

I know other countries where one could complain a bit, but usually with admins and if it's not about contesting a final decision in writing, the rest is useless.

THEY. HAVE. TOTAL. CONTROL. They can treat you badly (allegedly) and get on with it.

I adapted, i'm good at not making mistakes with them now, and taking their abuses lightly.
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Old 27.03.2017, 13:40
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Re: Why did Swiss custom officials treat me like an under human?

Question: Why did Swiss custom officials treat me like an under human?

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I am a French national.
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Old 27.03.2017, 13:42
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Re: Why did Swiss custom officials treat me like an under human?

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I...
Say they aren't the most diplomatic people on earth, and they have full power, they can do anything and have control and final decision on that administrative task. Appealing/complaining would be even risky during the procedure, and almost impossible/not productive afterwards.
...
THEY. HAVE. TOTAL. CONTROL. They can treat you badly (allegedly) and get on with it...
Lighting the fuse and stepping back, this is why you should carry permit and passport despite what the snowflakes say here

https://www.englishforum.ch/swiss-po...-s-permit.html
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Old 27.03.2017, 13:46
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Re: Why did Swiss custom officials treat me like an under human?

There are several border crossing between Konstanz and Kreuzlingen. But only the one near the Autobahn is open for commercial goods, such as a car import. I do not know where there is any small intersection where you could accidentally turn left.

Looks like you were at the wrong crossing point, doing stupid stuff. It is never a good idea to do stupid stuff when people with guns are nearby. When officials with guns start yelling at you, you know you did stupid stuff and you go in full Sorry mode.

Other than that it looks like a pretty normal procedure to me. Would not expect small talk, nor any other than the local language. And if the protocols needs the VIN stamped into the chassis then that is what the protocol says.
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Old 27.03.2017, 13:50
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Re: Why did Swiss custom officials treat me like an under human?

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I had often same treatment in Vallorbe/Chavorney and Basel customs, both times for importing vehicle. i'm not a "little bit tanned", and clearly it's not racially based due to my numerous observations there.
However, you, too, are a 'French national'.

I'm starting to see a pattern here.

Tom
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Old 27.03.2017, 13:58
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Re: Why did Swiss custom officials treat me like an under human?

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It all happened at the Konstanz-Kreuzlinger border control.


For your information, I am a French national, so I speak French fluently. But of course, these custom officials didn't speak a word of French with me.

Hence it all happened in German and Swiss-German. I speak 5 languages so I'm always happy to try German but also expect others to do efforts too. .
Unfortunately for you that sounds rather normal to me? You crossed at the German part of the country.
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Old 27.03.2017, 14:05
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Re: Why did Swiss custom officials treat me like an under human?

How far do you think I'd get at the French-Swiss border with little to no French?
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Old 27.03.2017, 14:05
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Re: Why did Swiss custom officials treat me like an under human?

You have my sympathy! Three years ago, we had a rather painful experience at the Zoll in Basel (Weil am Rhein crossing) when we brought our personal belongings into Switzerland. We had to deal with a rather crazy woman, who was on a massive ego trip! Her male colleague had no idea what she was on about and thankfully stamped our papers while she was on her break. He even told us that she was a special case and was a real pain in the arse!

So far, this was our only terrible experience in Switzerland. I am myself rather tanned and never (so far so good) had any issues at the border crossing. Don't let this experience tarnish your views of the country!

Ps: btw it's subhuman (not under human)
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Old 27.03.2017, 14:07
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Re: Why did Swiss custom officials treat me like an under human?

I thought of importing a car by myself and the input I've got several peopl is the following (this might help future readers)
- Do not import car through heavily-crossed border (Basel, Kreuzlingen, etc). There are plenty of cross-border controls available that can do the work
- Call them ahead, telling date and approx. time
- Do paperwork ahead

No one of my friends had any issues so far.
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Old 27.03.2017, 14:09
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Re: Why did Swiss custom officials treat me like an under human?

If you cross from Germany into the German-speaking part of Switzerland, why exactly would you expect them to speak French or any other of your five languages?

And just get over the "a little bit tanned" crap. Some people should just get over the fact that it has nothing to with how they look and some things are simply random. Of course one can always play the racism card, cause it's so much easier than just chalk it up to coincidence.

The rest - so what. I'm sure you won't have any lasting psychological damage You were importing a car, not bringing back a bag of groceries so of course there's going to be some checks. So they were a little rude - now what?

I was once checked at 3am with some brilliant person checking my license, seeing that I'm supposed to wear glasses, barking at me about where they were, me responding there's a thing called contacts, then ordering me to open the trunk and going through every little thing (again, 3am - what was I supposed to have in there?), etc.pp. I'm sure it was because I was a woman and I was just profiled I've also had far more unpleasant encounters at e.g. US border control - however in 1 out of maybe 50 cases. That's hardly a problem and my conclusion is not "people at border controls are racist/misogynst/whatever-you-want aholes that just want to bully you".
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Old 27.03.2017, 14:33
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Re: Why did Swiss custom officials treat me like an under human?

OP, I can sympathise. Some of these Swiss customs guys are really nasty. I've imported lots here commercially and for a few years I drove over from the UK and had to deal with them myself. Mostly I have been very lucky but at a spot check in Basel once a big Austrian truck pulled up next to my van for a control. The driver got out and opened the rear doors. His controller went bezerk, screaming and waiving his arms around, the truck driver was scared out of his skin, even my controller (who was very pleasant to me) looked shocked.

Of course, technically, the contents of commercial vehicles travelling with goods under transit documents sort of "belong" to the customs authorities until the goods have been cleared so "technically" the driver should have let the controller open the truck. But still, that is no excuse to behave like that.

But as I say, I have been lucky and 70% of my dealings with them have been pleasant, the other 30% just cold.

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How far do you think I'd get at the French-Swiss border with little to no French?
I got a spot check by the French Customs guys in the middle of France once, they wanted to check my Export / Transit documents for the ton of cheese I was carrying. My French is almost non existent but we had a lovely interaction in bits of French and much better English. Same at Calais and the Swiss French border leaving CH a few times, they were always friendly and very happy to speak some English.
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Old 27.03.2017, 14:59
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Re: Why did Swiss custom officials treat me like an under human?

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- Do not import car through heavily-crossed border (Basel, Kreuzlingen, etc). There are plenty of cross-border controls available that can do the work
Not anymore.

Nowadays, you have to go through one equipped for commercial traffic, as most smaller ones no longer can deal with it.

Tom
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Old 27.03.2017, 15:25
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Re: Why did Swiss custom officials treat me like an under human?

hmmm it sounds like I would be the perfect bad tempered customs official. My new career thanks to the advice on EF.
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Old 27.03.2017, 15:31
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Re: Why did Swiss custom officials treat me like an under human?

Hmm, I always thought they were polite (at custom, border etc)....however, my standards re. public servants are pretty low in general.
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Old 27.03.2017, 15:40
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Re: Why did Swiss custom officials treat me like an under human?

half of your post is how you expected to speak in French in the German part of Switzerland. Almost like me saying "these Alsatian waiters are crap! They don't speak a word of Bulgarian!"
The rest seems pretty much business-as-usual. Cold, professional and fact-of-matterly - exactly Swiss.
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Old 27.03.2017, 15:48
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Re: Why did Swiss custom officials treat me like an under human?

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German customs looked like 5 stars American customer service in comparison.

I suspect that being "a little bit tanned" didn't help my case.
a. I thought it was Swiss customs?

b. Seriously, using any comment including the US as an example of border control??
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Old 27.03.2017, 16:24
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Re: Why did Swiss custom officials treat me like an under human?

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a. I thought it was Swiss customs?

b. Seriously, using any comment including the US as an example of border control??
Are you saying that US border control aren't the most polite and efficient border service in the world? I thought they were all Qashqai owners!
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