Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Honest Swiss Post Box

This morning I would like to relate the quaint but somehow effective Swiss Post Box as shown above.

Let's start with the essentials:

In Switzerland properties are equipped with Postboxes for each house / apartment which are outside the property.  The Postman/Postwomen  deposits post into this box and not as for example in the UK;  where the slot is normally inside your front door.

So in fact the postal address does not specify your floor or house number.   Indeed we don't have a house or apartment number.    There is just the street address of our whole block.

As you can see there is a smaller upper locked compartment and a much larger unlocked lower compartment.

We opt out of all paper mailings that we can, nevertheless various banks continue to send us paper, and we have tried in vain to stop the Migros Supermarket enormous paper magazine arriving.

All that mail goes into the upper slot.

The lower slot is for parcels and packages.

If a package is 20cm x 27cm x 30 cm deep or smaller and is not marked as /to be signed for/ the Post Office puts it here and then drives away  (on their electric scooter).

This might sound alarming because this compartment is unlocked.

So how can it possibly work?  WELL:

  • In Switzerland it is assumed that everybody is honest and that nobody would be so rude as to steal a package from the lower letter box
  • Also, there is a strong assumption that the Woman in the household is at home, looking after the kids, knitting, or doing charitable works and will have time to nip down to the postbox moments after the post-person deposits any packages
  • If the sender was at all concerned then the extra cost /recommende/ option is specified and the goods are held at the Post Office [Obviously, good luck trying to get there for a pickup on anything other than Saturday morning if you are working!]

To be fair to the Swiss in our area,  we only had one package go missing in about 10 years, though this was a high value electronics package that the Swiss supplier Digitec elected not to send with signature  (they told us: statistically it's cheaper to absorb the theft than pay extra postal fees)

We note that companies like Nestle have Nespresso coffee packages which are miraculously sized to /perfectly/ fit inside your lower postbox.  Surely not a co-incidence.

But why is this so critically important?
To Marcus and Agata the postal system is our lifeline to supplies of products that Switzerland either does not sell at all, or does so at ridiculously high prices.

The proficiency and integrity of the postal system is firmly on our checklist of desirables for our next country of residence.

Until then, Swiss Post Box, we salute you :-)