Saturday, May 31, 2014

"All you can eat restaurant" or "Culinary Flatrate"

Germans love what they call "Flatrate" or "<name of service> Flat".

It is yet another Anglo word you find in Germany in abundance. Don't they have a German word for that?

Sure do, like "pauschal", "alles inklusive", and more. Yet, they flat out use flat in a way not flattering to the English language.

From fancy sounding mobile phone provider ads, Flat, or Flatrate, has moved into other areas of German life and gone ugly.

The latest mutant we saw was for water rates. A utility company wanted the county to appprove a "Wasser Flatrate" ("Wasser" meaning water).

Would you have guessed that the flat rate entailed a steep price hike?

You did, good.

The German population is shrinking, think Detroit light, if you will. Empty neighborhoods are being razed in some cities, services want to maintain their level of revenue despite losing customers.

So, they ask for more and more "flat" rates, which is expertly f####ed in the case of water. Germans have been metering water for many decades. They do this with such precision that the utility company replaces old water meters at every single customer every few years!

After metering to the last drip for half a century, proposing a flat rate is nothing short of bureaucratic voodoo.

If a flat rate, independent of how much you actually use, does not sound too bad, bear in mind that sewer fees are billed extra. Which means you can find yourself paying sewage fees on water you never bought in the first place.

The most egregious argument for a flat rate is that Germans have been good at saving water. So good in fact that sewer lines can get a bit stagnant during the summer months and start to smell bad.

Do like Paris, France, and flush the streets then, makes them cleaner, too!

German utilities do not like the idea because it lacks the "money for nothing" revenue model of the flat rate.

Utilities and other companies must be desperate for fresh cash in a country where "All you can eat restaurants" exist in smaller numbers than wild wolves. Hint: there are around 100 wild wolves.

If someone were to open a restaurant boasting a "Culinary Flatrate" would they go broke?

Does craving fresh cash make people flatline intellectually?

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