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Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday

Why own a car in Switzerland when you can rent one from a private individual?
Danish car sharing service is coming to Basel and Zurich. Photo by the Baloise media service
Find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Cantons critical of government’s vaccination incentive plan

Last week, Health Minister Alain Berset announced that in order to encourage more people to get vaccinated, 50-franc vouchers will be given to anyone who persuades a vaccine holdout to get inoculated.

However, several cantons have already criticised the proposed measure.

While they agree that further efforts are needed to increase the vaccination rate in Switzerland, this should not be done through “financial incentives, but on the basis of social and health considerations”, St. Gallen’s authorities said.

Neuchâtel and Glarus also oppose this measure.

“For both ethical and practical reasons, we firmly refuse any payment for a health act,” Neuchâtel’s government noted. “It would create a very problematic precedent which could open the door to the commercialisation of organ donation, blood donations, etc”.

READ MORE: 50 francs: What is Switzerland’s new ‘vaccination bonus’?

Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) alienate customers with arbitrary marketing campaign

During the pandemic, SBB lost nearly 100,000 general  (GA)season ticket holders. The company is now trying to get them back with an ambitious marketing campaign that offers 500-franc discount coupons for the purchase of the annual GA Travelcard.

However, as SBB doesn’t extend the offer to all its long-time customers but only to some, those not included in the promotional campaign feel cheated.

Despite complaints over the arbitrary approach, “this is a completely normal marketing campaign”, according to Reto Hügli, spokesperson for the public transport branch organisation Alliance Swisspass.

“Sometimes one group of customers benefits, sometimes another.”

And Karin Blättler, president of  Pro Bahn, the lobby for public transport users, said that “the usual customer service has definitely changed, which bothers the former holders of GA Travelcard”.

Swiss “letterbox” industry is still active

Swiss lawyers and trustees continue to create shell companies, according to a new survey carried out by Public Eye, an NGO based in Lausanne.

These letterbox companies are registered in “ghost” buildings, where law firms and trustees administer day-to-day affairs and telephones are answered by a concierge service, Public Eye claims.

They are mostly active in finance, real estate or commodity trading.

The Public Eye survey reveals that nearly 33,000 companies that exist only on paper are based in the cantons of Geneva, Zug, Fribourg and Ticino.

These companies are not necessarily engaged in illegal activities but this type of arrangement is most often used to conceal questionable transactions and is responsible for almost half of suspicions of corruption and money laundering transmitted to the Swiss authorities, the NGO found.

This Public Eye map shows where these companies are located.

Image by Public Eye

A new car-sharing service launches in two Swiss cities

The Danish car-sharing company GoMore is extending ” to Zurich and Basel, according to a statement by the Baloise insurance company, an investor in GoMore.

“Customers can use the digital platform www.gomore.ch to rent out their own car or to hire one of the cars on offer”, the Baloise said.

In addition, GoMore members in Switzerland will be able to take advantage of the firm’s GoMore Keyless service, “which allows car owners to rent out their vehicles without having to hand over the keys. Instead, the car is locked and unlocked using a smartphone”.

If you have any questions about life in Switzerland, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local, please get in touch with us at [email protected]


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