• Austria's news in English
 
app_header_v3
What really needs to happen in Austria in 2016
Beautiful cafes, but the service can leave a bad taste. Photo: Österreich Werbung/Kalmar

What really needs to happen in Austria in 2016

The Local · 11 Jan 2016, 11:29

Published: 11 Jan 2016 11:29 GMT+01:00

Austria will no doubt bring in plenty of new laws and amendments in 2016 as it does every year, but how many will really improve our lives?

Here are the things the government could do that would please us at The Local (some of them, of course, are wishful thinking, others are more serious).

Make friendliness an obligatory requirement in the service industry

Although the service sector is a key part of Austria’s economy, many expats and tourists complain that hospitality and friendliness in some hotels and shops, restaurants and bars isn’t a given - particularly in Vienna and other larger cities. Isn’t it time that those working in the service industry learn something from customer service in the US and UK? A smile and friendly word doesn't hurt and might mean your customers return. We know that grumpy waiters are seen as an integral part of Austrian Kaffeehaus culture, but should the customer really have to win over the waiter? Last year Austria failed to make the top ten in a survey of expat destinations - because almost a third of newcomers say Austrians are unfriendly to foreigners.

Make landlords responsible for installing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

In the UK, most private landlords are required by law to install smoke alarms and, where appropriate, carbon monoxide alarms in rental properties. In Austria that’s not the case and tenants even have to pay for their own yearly gas boiler check. New buildings in Austria now have to have smoke detectors installed - but we think it could help save lives if the government made landlords in older buildings responsible for installing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Just recently a teenager in Wiener Neustadt almost died after being exposed to CO from a faulty gas boiler.

Sell over the counter painkillers in supermarkets

Austrian authorities should have more sympathy for those with hangovers or head colds who can’t find a chemist open on a Sunday. Supermarkets in Austria are not allowed to sell the likes of ibuprofen or paracetamol. Plus, pharmacies tend to charge more for over the counter drugs than shops in the UK and US do, and you can’t buy generic painkillers for a fraction of the price of the bigger brands, which are available in UK supermarkets.  

Scrap gender from the German language

It’s 2016, so why do we still have gender in language? The words der and die mean “the” in a masculine and feminine form. Then there is “das”, which is neutral gender. The seemingly arbitrary allocation of masculine, feminine and neutral gender articles in German can drive non-native speakers to despair. Wouldn’t it be simpler if everything was neutral gender? It also gets confusing and becomes fraught with political correctness when referring to or addressing a group of people of both gender - for example teachers. Do we go with the politically correct “LehrerInnen”, or the grammatically correct “Lehrerinnen und Lehrer” (female teachers and male teachers)? We can’t wait until the German language simplifies its gender articles, just as English has managed to do since the Middle Ages. But we fear it may take centuries.

Owners should face victims of dog poo crimes

Photo: APA

One way to tackle crime is to force criminals to meet up with their victims to learn of the trauma they have caused in the hope that they will feel remorse and mend their errant ways. Steep fines to end the problem of dog mess fouling Austria’s pavements and parks have still not had the desired effect, so maybe it’s time for a rethink.

There’s no reason why rogue dog owners shouldn’t be forced to visit the homes of their victims to hear of the suffering incurred by having to clean dog poo out of the carpet or scrape it out from the soles of their shoes.

Stub out smoking in public places

Story continues below…

A long awaited general smoking ban for cafes and restaurants will not come into force until May 2018, meaning Austria is lagging behind the rest of Europe. Unsurprisingly, Austria has some of the worst smoking statistics in Europe and has been criticised by international organisations for its lack of anti-smoking policies. We think two years is too long to wait, and urge cafe and restaurant owners to take advantage of tax incentives and stub out smoking before the 2018 deadline - you’ll be sure of our custom.

Embrace the cashless society

Please can Austria learn to love credit and debit cards? It is 2016. Many smaller shops and independent businesses don’t take cards, and the few that do often have a minimum payment of around €10. The Western world seems to be heading towards a world without a physical currency, and it would make things much easier if Austria would get on board. How many times have you had to walk 15 or 20 minutes in the cold to withdraw cash to pay for a restaurant meal or a cup of coffee and slice of cake?

Extend shop opening hours

Very few shops are open in Austria on Sundays - except for a few supermarkets at major transport hubs. And even in the capital, Vienna, almost all supermarkets close by 6pm on Saturdays. This can make life difficult for the newly arrived expat who hasn't twigged on to the fact that you really need to do all your weekend grocery shopping on Saturday morning - and stock up if Monday happens to be a public holiday. Watch for the looks of disbelief on visiting friends' faces when you tell them that even main shops in tourist areas are closed on Sundays. We do like the idea that Sunday is a day to spend with friends and family and avoid consumerism, but please, could the supermarkets at least stay open later?

For more news from Austria, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Cops nab accomplice in Austrian 50m caper
Disgraced CEO Walter Stephan. Photo: Facebook/FACC

Police in Hong Kong have arrested an alleged accomplice who is believed to be involved in the scam which cost an Austrian aerospace company over 42 million euros.

A taste of Michelangelo in the heart of Vienna
Photo: Paul Gillingwater

Why go to Rome when the art of the Sistine Chapel can come to you in Vienna? Check out the new exhibition of Michelangelo's timeless frescos at the Votivkirche.

Over 50 cats go missing in Austrian town
Photo: Creative Commons/Pablo Viojo

Animal rescue services suspect there could be a serial cat-napper at work in the Austrian town of Frauenkirchen after more than fifty cats disappear in the region in under two years.

Austrian minister describes Merkel as 'irresponsible'
Photo: Defence Ministry

Austria’s Defence Minister has criticised the German Chancellor’s handling of the refugee crisis last year, accusing her of irresponsibility.

Beach party protest against burqini ban planned in Vienna
Woman wearing "burqini" swimwear in Egypt. Photo: Giorgio Montersino/Wikipedia

Vienna is to join London and Berlin in protesting against the introduction of a burqini ban on beaches in 30 seaside towns in France.

Expert says smuggling is as high as last year in Austria
Refugees arriving at Westbahnhof in Vienna. Photo: Kim Triall.

Human trafficking expert warns last year's refugee truck tragedy could happen again.

Austrian nuns recommended for Nobel Peace Prize
Sorok Island Hospital

Two Austrian nuns have been recommended for a Nobel Peace Prize for their decades of work supporting people living with leprosy in South Korea.

Turkey accused of 'systematic spying' in Austria
Photo: Twitter/apex_archive

An Austrian politician has accused Turkish authorities of spying on people living in Austria who are opposed to the Turkish leader President Tayyip Erdogan.

A weekend of classic cars in Vienna
Photo: Vienna Classic Days/Facebook

A parade of classic cars will once again take to the streets this weekend in Vienna as part of the city’s annual Classic Days event.

Police bitten and kicked by tourist in Salzburg
Wikimedia/Joachim Köhler

Police spat, bitten, and kicked at by a tourist in Salzburg.

Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
Beware these passport scams
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
National
Of course we skipped Oarsch
National
Foodies rejoice at the choice!
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Travel & Tourism
Yodel-ei-ei-eee--oh
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Lifestyle
10 years after her escape from captivity
Politics
Surviving the Brexit for British expats
National
Another 10 million Euros for fresh elections
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Gallery
Day 2 of the World Bodypainting Festival 2016
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Society
Is Islam hostile to Western society?
Gallery
Bodypainting festival in southern Austria
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
It's gonna be hot... here's how to cope
National
Europe's ice cream capital
Travel
Best Austrian beauty spots
Travel & Tourism
Three days in Vienna as a tourist
National
How to make friends in Austria
National
Don't hesitate - break the window
Sport
Ready to watch some football? Here's how!
National
Cake rules
Politics
Austria's choice for a new president
Politics
Profile on Norbert Hofer, Freedom Party Presidential Candidate
Politics
Austrian politics explained. TL;DR: worry not.
Features
Refugees need practical help
2,542
jobs available