back to article Automated payment machines do NOT work the same all over the world – as I found out

Mi dispiace, non parlo italiano. This would be easier if I'd been armed with a proper phrase book rather than a single page of everyday expressions at the back of my tourist guide. And it would be more effective if I was trying to communicate with a human. I am, of course, talking to a machine. No one else is around, which …

Same experience...

... except it was in the third part of Gallia, where the bravest men live (as J.G.C. wrote more than MM years ago).

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Re: Same experience...

You also freed a fat kid from a cycle gate and played a banjo / bagpipe duet? Wow . . hell of a coincidence :-)

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English?

He has noticed a marked difference in how he is treated in foreign climes depending upon whether the person he is trying to communicate with believes him to be English or American. As soon as he admits to being English, he can see the sparkle in the other fellow's eyes fade into one of sympathy.

I believe it. I see people's faces light up with happiness when I answer "English?" with "No, Scottish!".

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Re: English?

I have also observed this phenomenom although it may be that the owners of the local watering holes are familiar with the drinking habits of Scots in hot weather and anticipating full coffers.

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PPK

Re: English?

In Japan, once you answer their question 'Are you American?' with 'No, English', the welcome gets noticeably warmer. Have met a number of Anglophiles there, one gent (all in tweed) was a 'hair designer' by trade, and a massive Beatles fan apparently.

Given the behaviour I witnessed of an off-duty Marine in a bar in Nagoya, I can't say I'm surprised at this reaction - I don't think you could have gotten closer to the stereotype of loud, arrogant, boastful, slightly drunk colonial cousin tourist if you tried.

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Happy

Re: English?

Being neither, but having learned American English, I have been usually for an American tourist more than once in Europe. It is really interesting how the people's attitude changes when I'm done explaining where the little backwater country I'm from is actually located .

In France (or more specifically in Paris) it seems it is better to try and communicate in Spanish rather than English, even if the interlocutor speaks neither... that way I have sidestepped their proverbial disdain of tourists.

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Re: English?

We experienced almost the opposite in Andorra once. Shop assistants kept turning their noses up whenever Mme D spoke to them in French, so she tried Spanish, and even Catalan, to no avail. It was only when I spoke up in English that they fell over themselves to serve us. They must assume all French and Spaniards are local cheapskates on a weekend outing but someone speaking in English must be a tourist with cash to spend.

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Re: English?

"In France (or more specifically in Paris) it seems it is better to try and communicate in Spanish rather than English..."

Have you tried speaking French like a vache espagnole instead?

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Re: English?

@Dr_N

Nope... my French doesn't work for much more than "Ye ne pagh-lé pa Francé"

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Thumb Up

Re: English?

By George, I think he's got it!

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Re: English?

Even better, "American ?" "No" . "Ah English?" "No Australian!" Always met with big smile and ^ah kangaroi"

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Coat

Re: English?

that way I have sidestepped their proverbial disdain of tourists.

Parisians disdain anything not from Paris, logically, because they get served so much shit in the rest of France (two exceptions I know of, Bordeaux and Aix-en-Provence - might be others).

Parisians usually think Paris is France, the rest is just peasant-land ... this, of course, infuriates the rest of France. Anything south of Grenoble - Brive la Gaillarde-line (except Bordeaux and Aix-en-Provence) thinks anything above that line is Northern France, or southern Belgium (as I like to call it).

As for automated petrol stations in France, a bloody nightmare, though when you choose English, most of the ui is in English.

<joke>I personally think Brits and Parisians have one thing in common, unearned arrogance.</joke>

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Re: English?

And did Cthulu arrive to destroy Paris?

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Holmes

Re: English?

Answering 'Tennessean' in a comforting Southern Drawl, in my experience, has shown to totally fuck up citizens of other countries... Never give them what they expect and don't be a dick about it, always gracious. Ain't my country, different rules.

Only time that has failed was in Bremerhaven, when I ran across a German Scooter Gang, similar to American Biker Gangs, leather, chains, tatts, attitude, but with 80-cc scooters. I_could_not_stop_laughing and they didn't take kindly. Polizei saved my ass that day lmfao...

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Re: English?

My eldest is now in Tokyo doing a year’s exchange. Absolutely loves being there: non-existent crime, flawless transport and everything actually works!

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Re: English?

"^ah kangaroi" is always accompanied by placing hands side by side at chest height

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Anonymous Coward

Re: English?

I get the same reaction saying "No, Irish" - I think it's the first word that causes their joy, not the second.

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Coat

Re: English?

My wife is Quebecois/Spanish and fluently trilingual but when in France people always assume she's Belgian - she blames me as the French always assume I'm German. In Germany they assume the same.

My coats the one with the EU passport in it.

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Re: English?

Sounds like Bavaria!

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Re: English?

The time to go visit Tokyo is now as it's fast filling up with tourists and i predict it will not be the utopia of safety and consideration in 5 to 10 years. Already you see/hear brash tourists yabbering on their phones and loudly doing FaceTime in public. Next there'll be pickpockets and you'll have to start leaving valuables in the hotel safe!

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Re: English?

And did Cthulu arrive to destroy Paris?

Sadly, no. But Nyarlethotep did go to persue their mask shops..

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Facepalm

Sometimes it pays to add a leading zero.

Italian PINs are generally 5 digits not 4.

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Five digits? My luggage locks only have three digits, so how am I to remember a five digit PIN?

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Easy. Use two zeros.

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Just pick something easy like 12345.

You can't use that one though, that's my PIN.

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Anonymous Coward

what do you mean he can't use your PIN?! HALF THE WORLD uses this pin! (and the other half 54321). And the rest?! Well, I suppose they add 0, before or after). This means, that whenever you enter ANY pin - it works!

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I've got the same combination on my luggage!

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A leading zero? Wow! Never thought of that.

I visit Italy often and I speak the language, but I do not live there. Nor have I got an Italian credit card. As for Italian petrol stations, I can confirm that normally you fill up, go into the store, and pay at the till. Unless...

One very late night some years ago I was driving along a strada statale with an Italian friend of mine as a passenger, and I was low on petrol. The next distributore ("petrol station" in inglese) down the road was dark and deserted, but I figured I would manage to swipe my card and fill up. The machine asked for a PIN which I dutifully punched in only to see that there was a 5th position and a cursor blinking. Pressing "OK" (or "Continue" or whatever the green button said) didn't work, and I could not find any way to make the machine accept my woefully inadequate 4-digit PIN. Exasperated, I turned to my friend and asked, "Do you really have 5-digit PIN codes for you credit cards?" With a confused look on her face, the widely traveled university professor responded, "I wouldn't know. I haven't got a credit card."

The solution was to feed the machine some cash, of course. Trying to prepend the PIN with a zero never occurred to me.

Thank you for the useful tip for my future trips. I won't Forget It.

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Re: A leading zero? Wow! Never thought of that.

In the north you have the Telepass system for petrol, parking and autostrada. Can’t speak for the rest of the country as I do not really go further south than Firenze.

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The petrol pump payments are easy if you can get to the pump at all. Italian toll gates look like they were designed by a bored doodle drawing artist. You have to pick a lane to some place, then do a figure eight Le Mans to get to a universal, multi lane toll gate, then go out again in another figure 8 Le Mans and in there somewhere in the crazy spaghetti maze is a petrol station that you cannot get to, since you are now going to Piza or Pamplona and the petrol pump is only available if you go to Venice.

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Once, while driving on a motorway in Eastern Europe, early in the morning on a Sunday, we came across a toll with no cash lane. Pre-paid smart card access only, and no staff. Having just been through Italy, we did the usual figure-of-eight-U-turn-somersault maneuver to try and get off the motorway. Our travelling companions, however, used a less subtle maneuver which involved reversing, quite hard, into the pole with the number plate recognition camera on it. Which promptly fell over.

Nothing ever came of it, luckily. From empirical evidence, therefore, it appears the easiest way to get out of paying motorway tolls is simply to smash the cameras. Italy sounds like the right country to test this hypothesis.

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@herman.

It's worse than that. Pisa may be out of your way but Pamplona is in Northern Spain, something of a problem if you need petrol.

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I had a different issue entirely at a filling station in Italy. Pulled up at the pump in my hire car, before realising that I had absolutely no idea how to open the filler cap - and of course no manual for the car in the glove box. I looked all over the dash, the centre console, nope - nothing. Meanwhile, the filling station attendant becomes increasingly irate. After a trip around the block (to avoid the shouting) and back to the filling station, I finally found the button - passenger side, on the floor - such that it's only visible when the passenger door is open. Bravo Toyota!

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Puts it on the correct side for Japanese (and Brit, and Aus...) drivers.

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Had exactly the same problem this week in a hired Honda. Finally found the release after I'd gone to the office to unload (for the record, under the dash just in front of the driver's door).

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The petrol pump card payments are not all the same even within the UK

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Or you could do what most I do when I'm in Italia: zip through the Telepass lane and consequences be damned.

Top tip: they'll eventually tie it back to the rental car you were in and then the car company will try to charge you. Just remember to cancel the credit card you used for the rental and get another one with a different number and voila: free autostrada tolls. Comes in handy for speeding tickets too. Rental car companies will try to charge the card they have on file but it's no longer valid.

So sorry non posso pagare...cazzi vostri!

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Mushroom

Just remember to cancel the credit card you used for the rental and get another one with a different number and voila: free autostrada tolls. Comes in handy for speeding tickets too. Rental car companies will try to charge the card they have on file but it's no longer valid.

Now I know why we cannot have nice things ... This behavior will just cause rental companies to up their prices for foreigners, all because of total cunts like you!

I do hope they use that photocopy of your passport/license they took as you picked up the car and charge you 5 or 10 fold.

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Devil

How did you manage to drive the car while sitting on the right seat ?

The fact that the wheel was on the left side (as well as the button for opening the filler cap) should have been a reminder that you were on the Continent, not in England...

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"Bravo Toyota!"

There's yer problem. Fiat make the Bravo!

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But why on the floor anyway? I've had several cars with a clear button on the centre console, or cars where you just flip open the filler cap (it locks automatically when you lock the car). That's fine. But a button on the floor? C'mon!

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Fiat make the Bravo!

And it's smaller cousin the Bravatini..

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". That's fine. But a button on the floor? C'mon!"

thats where it is in my 28 yr old Toyota . on floor next to boot flippy thingy

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Similar Experience

WhenI first cam to Spain, I tried using a card in a gas/petrol station. The choices of language were the usual major European ones that immediately reverted to Spanish.

What was really great though was that although you could insert a card, the payment systems had all been disabled, the sign telling you that was in the garage toilet in a filing cabinet with a beware of the leopard sign on the door.

It took me a week to realise this was a region wide phenomenon a a trail of disgruntled service station staff.

Was the reason for the Sicily trip a visit to Il Capo del Regstrare?

Hope it went well, I hate that horses head in the bed thing, it makes the sheets all soggy.

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Re: Similar Experience

I may be out a limb here but I find the (usually redundant) attendent service in Spain a lifesaver.

Having picked up some random hire vehicle, having deciphered the correct sequence of pedal shifting to get it started and not yet panicking how to get the windscreen wipers on the front or back to wipe feverously or occasionally - then driving into a filling station with no idea which side, yet how to open the petrol filler - one can relax. Just push a 50 euro note to the attendent. They may not have a doctorate in hydro-carbon chemistry but they sure know how to get a nozzle into any petrol tank known to humanity.

Job done. Who needs technology?

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Re: Similar Experience

I have to say that travelling on French toll motorways is a pleasant experience. Reasonable tolls, not overloaded with roadsigns, cards accepted by machines without crazy mad crashing UIs, clean bathrooms with baby changing facilities, shops and vending machines which cover practically all food and drink requirements on your trip, picnic areas, bins which are a) available and b) actually emptied.

Then you cross the Pyrenees, and are charged three times as much in tolls for all the same things but with the word not in front of them.

I can complain like the best of the locals.

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Re: Similar Experience

have to say that travelling on French toll motorways is a pleasant experience.

As long as you avoid summer weekends. Pick a saturday in July or August and all you'll hear on the radio is "total traffic jams now 500km (600km, 700km...as the day goes on). North-South journey times double, or worse when there's an accident.

Sundays in sping or autumn are great, although not so much fun now that the police have radar guns. It used to be possible to lock the cruise control at 160km/h when you left Calais and barely touch it again until you got to Lyon.

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Re: Similar Experience

baby changing facilities

Out of curiosity, what did you change it for? A nice new car? A goat?

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Re: Similar Experience

I drove across France once to get to the Alps - great lane discipline they have on their 2 lanes , compared to us on our 3

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