Monday, September 8, 2008

Fun Facts about Switzerland Part 2: Group E(vil)

Every three months since we've moved into our apartment, we have received a bill for 50 CHF from Group E - the friendly local power company. With each bill, we would cheerfully pay, while marveling at the cheap electricity in this country of hefty price tags. After paying, we would go blissfully on with our lives of washing and drying clothing, running the dishwasher, and leaving a light on for the kitties.

Last week I stopped as I always do to grab our mail on my way to pick up groceries. The only envelope was a skinny little thing from Group E, which I opened as I walked back into the mall. Knowing the above about the 50 CHF/month bills of the past, you can imagine my surprise when I opened one for... 780 CHF. "Gosh darn!" I cried out. "Well, dang it all! Oh my gosh!." I can't remember exactly, but suffice to say this wasn't a pleasant surprise.

So, apparently power here isn't super cheap, it's just paid by a different system:

1. Every three months you pay a small flat amount.
2. After a year, you make up the difference between the small amount and the actual cost of the electricity you used.
3. If you are new, the power company sets the rate very low since they don't know how much you will be using. After the first year, the small flat rate will be adjusted upwards to prevent another huge bill in the future.
4. Power is cheapest between 8 PM and 6 AM and also on weekends. This means I ought not be doing laundry at 3 PM on a Tuesday - sigh.

After the initial shock wore off, we got a laugh out of it. Then I spent all weekend doing laundry - lesson learned!


Carl E said...

I think I would just be happy to receive an electric or gas bill!!! :-) They do something similar here in Belgium, but we have yet to receive a second bill....the first bill? €127...back in NOVEMBER '07!! We're now afraid of receiving a shocker like you did... :-)

Miz K said...

Eeeeek - I'm scared for you!

Katie said...

yikes!!!!!!! i like your reaction- i am sure it was close to that, give and take a few letters here and there...

Miz K said...

Yes, the fun never ends here!

Sally Carter said...

Just been through exactly the same experience at the end of our first year here in Schweiz too... only ours was heating oil and water combined and the grand total was CHF5000!!!! I nearly fell over!!