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Many Swiss farmers use honor system to sell their products (businessfondue.com)
153 points by Varqu 7 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 150 comments





As others have noted, this is common in rural America, which tend toward being very high-trust communities such that many people don't even bother to lock their doors. Bartering local goods and services is such an integral part of the rural social fabric that everyone has an interest in making it work well with minimal transaction costs.

Part of what makes it work in rural areas is that no one is really anonymous. The local social networks tend to be very quick to identify bad actors.


> As others have noted, this is common in rural America, which tend toward being very high-trust communities such that many people don't even bother to lock their doors

There's a practical reason for that, too. If you're being burglarized in a rural community, a locked door will be an obstacle for ~10 seconds, and you'll come home to just as much of your stuff stolen, plus a broken door to deal with.


In a very small town near where I grew up every household had a key to the gas station. They could fill up whenever they wanted and leave the money on the counter.

The book "Freakonomics" details a similar bagel-selling system, where they would put bagels in the break room of workplaces, and you would pay on the honor system. After years of collecting data, the owner realized he had been doing a real-time, real-life experiment on how honest people are. You don't know WHO took without paying, but you can tell HOW MANY of your bagels were paid for. There's analysis of how it varies by time of year, type of workplace, etc. Fascinating.

I worked somewhere that did this. Every month there was much more money left than bagels sold. We gossiped about this for a while. Eventually an anonymous note was left (paraphrased as best as I could remember):

"Some people are forgetful or hungry or in a rush. I don't want these times to sour this workplace because people grow to think someone is stealing."


Me too. But it was the opposite. Guy was barely making any money due to shrinkage so he quit the location.

In the past I would round up because I don't carry change.

Also.... exact change can be an issue.

Mind telling tthe findings? :-)

It's been a while, but I seem to recall that honesty skyrocketed in the months immediately after 9/11, then gradually came back down to normal. I also seem to recall that the professions which made the most money were NOT the ones with the highest compliance, which is not all that surprising, but still...

At first, the deposits didn't cover costs. They tried a number of different options to encourage better compliance, the standout finding was that just putting up a printout of a pair of eyes (even drawn) increased compliance.

From memory, one thing that surprised me was holidays. Thefts decrease in the days before a holiday that's basically just a day off for most people, but thefts increase in the days before a holiday that has a strong tradition for getting together with the extended family.

I've always wondering if this was a money issue (ex: how expensive holidays can be), or a stress issue (ex: distracted about the 20 things that need to get done today before the inlaws arrive / deadlines because of employees being out of office)

"I just spent 400 bucks on Christmas presents. I can't afford to pay for this bagel." ... ?

tl;dr Most people are generally honest, and act accordingly. A few people will consistently take advantage of the system, which slightly lowers the average.

Here in Sweden I've noted that some sellers have started adding a Swish-number for payments. Swish is a Swedish payment service where you basically send money to a phone number. This is great since the only risk for the seller now is the produce. The cash can not be stolen.

That sounds very Swedish! The nearest I've seen to that in Switzerland was a farm with a book where you can write your name, address, and how much you owe them. That was on a slightly larger farm (~100 cows and pigs) that sold expensive things like cold-cut meat too.

I live in a tourist region of Switzerland and here the local supermarkets carry local produce e.g. cheeses and sausages bearing the name and address of the farmer who produced them.

In our village we can buy cheese, eggs, honey, and some preserves by letting ourselves into the cellar of the local farmer and leaving money in a jar.


How bucolic

As a Swiss guy, I must say I only see this in rural areas. It wouldn't work in big cities like Geneva I think (too many people living in urban areas who don't respect our wonderful country and that's a shame).

This is actually fairly common in rural areas in America too. Maybe someone sets up a bunch of pumpkins, apples, etc at the end of their driveway (which in rural America can be measured in KM) and a box to put money in.

Even in suburban areas. In San Jose we have Phil Cosentino's J & P Farms on Carter Avenue next to the Camden-85 interchange:

https://www.google.com/maps/@37.249591,-121.909198,240m/data...

https://www.google.com/maps/uv?hl=en&pb=!1s0x808e340f2c491c5...

Sometimes there will be someone out at their fruit stand, but most of the time it runs on the honor system with a money slot where you pay for your produce.


I see this with eggs and wood a lot in the more rural areas of New England. I think it's a simple case where whatever (if any) shrinkage is still significantly less than the cost of monitoring

Yeah, it's a bit odd that they focused so much on the Swiss.

Even the article mentions it's widespread: "Unmanned stalls with vegetables can be found all over the world. Germany, Norway, the U.S., Australia, Canada, the UK are among the countries where the honor system isn’t any novelty."


Yeah, this sounds like an article written by someone who lives in a big city and has never been to rural America. This isn't even uncommon; its pretty darn standard. Another common, similar thing you see all over (climatically appropriate) America are fruit orchards where you pay for a bag upfront and you can fill it as full as you want (or take more than the bag, or not even pay for the bag if you're dishonest).

Oh this fruit orchard tradition is so wonderful! I remember going on an outing like this with my friends (We aren't American citizens) and we went absolutely nuts, going on a binge carrying and eating fruits. (We were really hungry after a long road trip). We all felt appropriately guilty afterwards and apologised.

Oh, trust me; those orchards are a cash cow. There's practically no amount of fruit you could have taken which would have caused them material damage. Most of them don't even make most of their money from the fruit; they'll usually have little shops, or processed fruit goods (jams, syrups), or food, or hay rides as well. There's one near me that does the fruit-stuff during the summer, then converts into a haunted farm-type attraction in the fall, and the owner says they make a ton more money in the fall season. The "pick your own fruit" is just to get people in the door, and they usually overcharge like crazy for the bags under the assumption that their customers (A) are gonna take a ton, and (B) will end up buying some other stuff on-site.

Yeah but those pick your own fruit orchards are usually a really bad deal. Around here in Seacoast New England, for example apples, you are paying more for the privilege of picking your own apples then buying them at the supermarket.

It is pretty common in Vermont and it is not only about veggies (meat and poultry too). You can just write a check or pay by cash and take change(if you need) from the cash register which is open. It is not based on the honor system (pay as much as you want) but on decency and trust, you have to weight everything and calculate price for goods by yourself but there is no one who is watching you.

It seems to me that such a system makes people show their best. Surely there is a percentage of people who may not act very well, but I believe that there are more good people anyway.


Also common in rural Australia to have this at the end of a driveway. Around me it's often firewood, fruits and honey.

Being from Gimel (a small town in Vaud), a lot of the stories in the article remind me of happy memories growing up.

Switzerland has been struggling with an identity crisis of late as a lot of poorer immigrants from war-torn places (Albania when I was growing up, Maghreb and Middle East now) have been moving in to the cities, oftentimes not respecting our old traditions. Theft and petty crime is on the rise, and almost always at the hands of those poorer immigrants. It's led to a backlash that hasn't really brought out the best in us.

It's sad to see the cohesion and trustworthiness of the Swiss society disappear, though I guess it was somewhat inevitable.


> oftentimes not respecting our old traditions.

Can the govt do something like introduce culture lessons for new immigrants?


I live in Zurich (biggest city in Switzerland), and know of several such installations in the city itself. "Cities" in Switzerland are really not that urban ;-)

In my hometown, a bit further down lake Zurich, here are two well-known such places, visible in google maps.

https://www.google.com/maps/@47.234931,8.6521491,3a,75y,13.9...

https://www.google.com/maps/@47.2063957,8.6876991,3a,60y,55....


In Geneva thirty years ago there were newspapers for sale on the street using this system.

Print is weird.

For most print mediums, circulation is more important than sales. Because higher circulation generates more Advertising revenue, which is higher than sales.

But they can't give a newspaper/magazine away, because that would bump them to a lower category for which advertisers pay less.

The solution is to sell as cheap as your desired advertising demographic allows, and incurs lots and lots of "loss".

That is why even in the USA (land of the people-will-grab-anything-not-bolted-down) some newspapers still have that coin+trust box for newspapers.


Do you work in print?

Yes, and the next logical question would be: what has changed in Geneva these past 30 years? Hints: individualism, globalization, multiculturalism.

My father told me that when he served for our national army back then, soldiers just left their weapons alone in front of the train station while they were having a coffee before going into the train.


IMO: it has to do with the number of repeat interactions you will have with people.

When you interact more than twice with the same people, Game Theory says it is better to act honorably. At 2 interactions it is roughly balanced, and with a single interaction it is better (as an individual) to cheat. These assume balanced payoff/penalty, but changing the penalty only works to a certain extent and humans are very bad at evaluating the payoff of low-risk high-penalty actions, essentially becoming used to the risk after a while as they learn from repeated actions that they don't get caught (until they do).

So, the question is why repeat interactions have gone down. I guess larger communities, and better transport means just in terms of regular day-to-day you don't have many repeat interactions, and this changes mindsets of people inclined to crime in terms of what they think they can get away with, at least to start with.

It also explains to some extent the distrust small communities have to strangers, where they are not used to living with that regular stranger-danger that people in cities constantly deal with.


Other hints: increased population, increased levels of education, more flavors of ice cream available...

Foreigners now account for 80% of the prison population in Switzerland:

https://www.breitbart.com/europe/2019/02/08/foreigners-make-...

IQ scores are falling and have been for decades, new study finds:

https://www.sciencealert.com/iq-scores-falling-in-worrying-r...

https://brainstats.com/average-iq-by-country.html


Please vet your sources if you want an audience here.

Whatever message you wanted to get across drowned because of the Breitbart quote.


Sorry I didn't know Breitbart. I posted a link to this website, because it was in English and most of the sources I have are from Swiss newspapers (in French or in German). For example, this link (from the Swiss national TV) :

https://www.rts.ch/info/regions/fribourg/9345276--les-prison...


Please note that the falling IQ has nothing to do with the foreigners, at least not according to the linked study; IQ is going down even within families.

These things are not mutually exclusive. The study [1] showed that the data indicated that IQs between brothers reduced far less rapidly than the IQ for the population as a whole: "Between the 1975 and 1991 cohorts, the average annual decline estimated using within-family variation is attenuated by almost two-thirds relative to the across-family trend: −0.08 IQ point per year versus −0.23 point per year (SI Appendix, Table S3, columns 1 and 3)."

They then extensively massaged the data to make this difference disappear, which is what yields the headline. They did provide perfectly valid justifications for such, including the fact that IQ testing data was missing disproportionately often from brothers where the brother who had data available was of a low IQ. They thus proposed that the high heritability of IQ would then suggest that the missing data is probably disproportionately weighted against IQ, so that's what they did.

Nonetheless this massaging of the data opens the door to methodological problems. It enables researchers to choose the factors that they consider most relevant and to determine effective weighting for such. You will tend to find in this scenario that individuals who have the preconceived notion of 'x' end up choosing factors that show 'x'. And vice versa for those who assume 'y.' This isn't necessarily even malfeasance, but simply the fact that trying to control for a practically infinite number of possible confounding issues is as much an art as a science, and preconceived notions are going to end up being reflected in what one chooses.

For instance my bias is self evident and if I were going to pursue this sort of balancing I would certainly be sure to try to control for factors such as increasing paternal age, fertility assistance, and other things which can have negative effects on IQ. Some studies have even connected higher IQ parents to various disorders including autism which may mitigate against the missing IQ data bias. Controlling for these things is important. The reason that these researchers neglected them is not out of malfeasance, but because you can come up with a practically infinite number of things you need to control for. And so peoples biases end up reflecting the issues they find important.

The ultimate point is that I think the most impartial idea is to look at the data alone, so much as possible. This study made some fairly extreme changes to the data. Of course if my biases were different, I'd probably be singing a different tune. Isn't social "science" fun?

[1] - https://www.pnas.org/content/115/26/6674


LOL, Breitbart. Quoting a French language source...

Let's quote the same institution (Swiss Radio/TV) https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&u=https...

TL;DR: If you have legal residency in Switzerland, they'd rather let you serve your time outside of prison; but without residency, you'd probably leave the country if they don't put you in prison. Maybe blame Schengen but it seems most Swiss would rather have borders that are faster to cross...

> The number of foreign detainees has increased significantly. 30 years ago, 56 percent of prison inmates were foreigners, most recently 71 percent. Weber says: "The legislator has increasingly introduced alternatives to prison for Swiss prisoners. I'm thinking of charitable work or electronically supervised house arrest. "

> However, such measures would only be suitable for people with a low risk of escape, ie persons with a secured, legal stay in Switzerland. These are mostly Swiss, but not foreign offenders resident abroad.

> Exactly the proportion of such criminal tourists has recently increased sharply. Over the last decade, they already account for the majority, 52 percent of all inmates. The society has become generally more mobile in the last 30 years, the same applies to offenders, the criminal law professor. "You can travel cheaper than before. So it is more likely that they go from, for example, Eastern European countries to Switzerland for a few days and then travel back."


Don’t forget the proliferation of smartphones and the rise of stomp and holler music. Probably.
netsharc 7 days ago [flagged]

IS "globalization" and "multiculturalism" just euphimisms of "Those damn non-white people!"?

I don't mean that at all! I am simply suggesting that mixing multiple cultures, religions and belief systems is harmful to the identity and the self-trust of a nation.

For example, in my city, they are building new pavements. They are building them high enough so a crazy Islamic guy can't run into pedestrians with his car (like one did in France and in Germany).

As a Swiss citizen, I have the right to say I am not happy with that without being accused of racism!

Of course you are welcome here if you are intelligent and respectful (like all the US people I have met here).


Van attacks aren’t limited to Islamic extremism.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toronto_van_attack


Sample size n=1 there especially when there are many more examples of the opposite.

> mixing multiple cultures, religions and belief systems is harmful to the identity and the self-trust of a nation

This is true only if the peoples of a country refuse to mix and to seek a common national civic identity based on peaceful resolution of disputes and respect for the rights of minorities, whether cultural or religious.

It remains true that one thing no democracy can survive is a large fraction of citizens with contempt for the values that make self-government possible: respect for the rule of law rather than of strong men; a desire to help people who cannot return the favor, to list a few. This does indeed go to your "belief system" point.

But here in the US anyway, I'd suggest most of the rot of the civic belief system has been grown right at home.


Yeah, you're using those dog-whistle phrases exactly the same way all the other racists are.

Not if you’re in China. But it probably has a lot to do with “these people are part of my tribe/ingroup”.

I’m very proud to be Italian, and proud and love my countrymen.

If I were a Swiss, though, I would not leave my rifle, or any valuable, around in a Swiss train station if Italians are around. Or English, French, Germans, etc.

I wouldn’t be afraid if there were a group of Japanese though.

We’re just not as civilized.


What's interesting about Japan is that it's a mono-cultural society with high IQ and this country has not surprisingly the lowest crime rate in the world. Italy and Switzerland were like that a few decades ago.

BTW, what do you think of Salvini? Switzerland chose not to be in the European Union and it was our best decision ever IMO. It's like a startup: it's better to be lean and agile.


I left Italy before Salvini was a thing.

Free newspapers as well, they are available in pretty much every station or next to some bus stops. It must be hard for the business.

Obviously, the reduction in atmospheric CFCs since the signing of the Montreal Accord is the culprit.

They are still there today. Source I bought my paper yesterday.

It's still the case but I wonder for how long. Not because of theft but I assume the newspapers that survived are probably making the bulk of their income from subscribers. I haven't seen anyone putting coins into those vending boxes in a long time.

With very high fines if you were caught paying less or nothing, that helped a bit I guess.

I've seen this on farms within the city limits of Zürich. Schwamendingen, at that, not exactly known for its civility and kindness.

> too many people living in urban areas who don't respect our wonderful country

I think people from lots of different countries feel that way. There’s something about being connected to the land that gives one a love for both the land and the human culture connected to it. That connection to the land is easily lost in urban environments.


Even retail establishments with staff and security systems balance the extra costs of these “loss prevention” measures against customer convenience. The goal is never perfect security but sufficient security. Large retailers typically set targets on loss and try to minimize them, within reason. Farm stands that operate like this have simply found a reasonable cost/benefit trade off. (There’s an apple orchard near Boston that leaves their store unattended for the slow winter months... My wife pops in a few times to buy some more apples.)

Loss from stealing was called 'shrinkage' by retail industry people, in Sam Walton's autobiography 'Made in America'. As you say, they expected to have some. I wonder why it can't be prevented 100%.

Prevention to 100% would be costly. They have diminishing marginal returns.

Why would someone pay $50,000/year for a hypothetical system which would theoretically catch everyone and fill out the police report automatically when the store experiences a tiny $300 annual shrinkage loss?


Because stopping retail theft 100% requires an inconvenience to normal customers that is off-putting and will cause them to go somewhere else.

I certainly wouldn't shop somewhere that required my bags and pockets to be searched every time I left the store.

Lying for Money makes the case that the optimal amount of fraud in any real world system is non-zero. Fraud prevention has direct and indirect costs. At some point the costs of fraud prevention will exceed the cost of fraud itself.

Honesty boxes are common here in UK countryside too. Same as any country tho', it probably wouldn't work in the towns and cities.

I guess the number of people in a city make it more likely that there'd be enough 'cheaters' to ruin the whole enterprise and not make it worthwhile.


You also have enough customers that having someone manage the store doesn't cost very much per sale.

Exactly. It’s a scaling issue.

I ran into this in California at a small farm along Highway 1 a few miles north of Santa Cruz. It's a scenic ocean side rural locale but near all the big Bay Area cities and frequented by day visitors from there. There was a shack with a good variety of their produce laid out, with price labels. Up front there was a cash box, with about $40 already in it, and a sign that said pay here. This was late '90s. I really hope that it continued to work for them for a long time after that. I haven't seen that elsewhere before or since. I overpaid as a tip. I hope that happens enough to offset cheats.

In rural south west England, on holiday last year, the well-stocked local farm shop operated not only an honesty box, but an honesty credit card machine, with detailed instructions how to put a transaction through. The merchant receipt went in the honesty box, of course. I was astonished but pretty pleased, because I was low on cash and far from any ATM.

PayM would be the easy implementation of this, it's the generic mobile phone based bank transfer system for the UK.

In Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland the same shop would have a phone number. You type the phone number into the app (which shows the name as confirmation), the amount, and press send. It's not tied to any particular bank.

Unfortunately, the UK system isn't really catching on. Instead, my friends seem to be using proprietary apps which only work for friends at the same bank.


I've been here since the late 90's and the same self service stands that were here then are still here - there are several between Palo Alto and Cupertino.

There's also a self service rest stop mainly for cyclists that's been in operation for the last 10 years or so, between Woodside and Half Moon Bay. https://potreronuevofarm.org/bike-hut/


You can still see this in rural new england, at least, though I expect with far less non-local traffic than california 1.

There’s one in Soquel ( next to Santa Cruz ) I visited last year. Really neat feel to it.

I've seen them in the town of Sonoma as recently as last season.

My first exposure to the honor system was at Caltech. It worked very well there, and it was really nice to not have to obsessively lock your dorm room door every time you walk out.

I've since used the honor system in my business dealings, and it works well enough to allow me to continue with it.


One of the reasons this worked so well at Caltech was that every freshman's first night included an introduction to lock picking.

If you locked your door, you might expect a polite note like "I noticed your door was locked. Thanks, it gave me a chance to test my lock picking skills."


When I attended in the 70's, lock picking was there but wasn't much of a big deal. The protocol was: door is open, come on in. Door is closed, don't come in. As simple as that.

My favorite was the bathroom, which had a sign on it with a rotating pointer, and 4 quadrants labelled:

1. men

2. women

3. don't know

4. don't care

where you selected one on entry. For the 70s, it was way ahead of its time :-)


> door is open, come on in. Door is closed, don't come in

Same protocol at Cambridge (UK), at least in the rooms with two doors (outer door open: come in, outer door closed: do not disturb/I'm out). Lock picking wasn't really a thing, but one of the tutors did point out to us that the locks in a specific corridor could be opened by sliding a knife down the edge of the mechanism (it was "fixed" by screwing a steel plate to the _outside_ of the door, which felt like missing the point somewhat).

I'm possibly missing something obvious, but could you explain why you'd need to pick a quadrant? I'm not seeing why that is necessary.


The purpose was to temporarily, while you were in the bathroom, say what kind of bathroom it was.

If you don't care who else uses it while you're in there, dial "don't care". If a man dialed "women" and went in, he'd likely face some angry students. To my knowledge that never happened.


Like several other commenters noted, these types of roadside stands are prevalent throughout rural areas of the US. You usually only see them on side roads though, if you're just passing through on the highways you'll miss them.

I was recently in Zurich and entered a small shop that was honor system. Scan and pay for your own items, no staff. Small food items, drinks, wine available.

Might be different since there could be cameras or some other form of accountability, but I found it interesting.


Would police every bother investigating simple theft from such a store..

Even if there is excellent video and identification?


I’ve seen this in the US in rural parts of Georgia.

Yep...I agree it works well here and let's you farm while holding down another job. You can get "vine ripened" and the flavor it much better. It also is more efficient for spoilage. Hogs or chickens get it right after it is too ripe.

Last year we found a place on the Oregon coast that had a little freezer with Salmon and Halibut. Also a table with Cherries, Peaches, and a few vegetables with an honor box and, interestingly we thought, QR codes to accept BTC and ETH.

Halibut was killer, but I paid in USD because my phone was dead.


Haha can I get a +/- 10 mi general area to not kill the goose?

On the 101, South of Garibaldi, North of Lincoln City. :-)

In Paris pavements are routinely lined with stacks of books, magazines, comics, etc. The idea being 'you take some, you leave some. Or just take, at least the books will find some use.' I've seen it abroad so it's probably widespread.

Slightly more tangential, but people also often leave furniture (or clothes) they don't need outside for the taking, often because they're moving places. You notify the municipality, put up a post-it with a number on it so that they can eventually identify and carry the stuff away if it finds to takers, but in the meantime other people are free to help themselves. I have friends who would completely furnished their apartment with furniture found on the street.


This is a sign of a deeply trust based society.

I don't think articles like these are good for the system's health :)


You really think a significant number of people are going to get on a plane to Switzerland and then drive to Vaud to steal pumpkins?

I there are always marginal effects, as an economist would put it.

It's also a society with really high wages, so the barrier to staffing a stand is higher.

San Francisco also has really high wages.

I don't see a lot of similar arrangements around here...


San Francisco has really high wages in a specific sector. How much does a retail job earn though?

In Switzerland, an entry level retail worker starts at around $4500 a month and goes up from there.


Growing up in Switzerland, when we lived on the outskirts of Bern, we would get our milk from such a dispenser at a farm. It was a 5min walk to the farm, and we'd bring our own bottle and fill it up from a spout. The milk was fresh and unpasteurized, so we'd have to leet it sit in the fridge for a few hours to separate it from its cream.

Wow. How does it compare to the store bought milk of today?

It's not even in the same universe in terms of quality. Although it went bad way quicker, so you had to drink it in a day or so max.

This is more common than you might think in rural areas in California

Once upon a time I cycled through vast fields of strawberries and other yummy looking produce in California.

I did see honour system stalls but they were pretty rare considering the size of the area. They were more like curious exceptions rather than the norm. They were also geared up to sell at volumes that didn't suit the bike, so too much to carry.

I got the impression from the article on Switzerland that this was more of a way to do your shopping, so sensible quantities not vast bulk purchases.

Incidentally I did not stop to freeload a single strawberry. On a bike with nobody around this should have been simple, there weren't even any barbed wire fences. However, my riding buddy - also a non-American tourist - was not so keen. The reason why was a simple one - 'don't they have guns in America?'.

Actually they have guns in Switzerland too and there is a lot of national service practice going on at the weekends. In fact weekends are quite wonderful in Switzerland as the shops are closed and people go out and do things including going to honour system stalls. The guns though are quite terrifying if you are cycling as you can turn a corner on a descent and feel like you are suddenly in a firing range (rather than right next to one).

I have to say that the Californian produce looked good but was not that good when I bought it in the shops. The land of plenty turned out to be quite expensive and bland to European tastes. Meanwhile, in Switzerland, the roadside appearance of plenty was not so good but the food bought in shops was as expensive as everything is in Switzerland (so no surprise) but delightful to taste.

The relative abundance of Swiss roadside honour stalls doesn't just say things about how honest people are in squeaky clean Switzerland, it also says something about the produce being of value rather than bland.


So this! The lovely clicky sound of rifle bullets passing by above your head as you stroll on well signposted paths. I understand they do have concrete blocks preventing beginners from shooting too low. Still...

IIRC I saw this for strawberries when driving to SF for an internship. I've seen it for pumpkins in the midwest too.

Swanton Berry Farm along Hwy 1, perhaps?

They were small stands, just said STRAWBERRIES or ORANGES :)

Once I broke the signal in Switzerland and outran the cops sent back the car to the countryside and took bus to the hotel just to find the traffic ticket waiting for me in the room I booked.

I am still not sure how they knew where I am going and which hotel I'll be staying at.


Mapping where such systems actually work well would produce the best "quality of life" guide for me. It just takes a few bad apples to break these forever and communities in their naivety often don't notice until it's too late.

Here in southern germany ots of farmers sell Apples and other fruit (and sometimes vegetables) this way. Some also have fields of flowers where you can cut some and pay at a honor box. Though generally you put your money in a heavily bolted down box through a narrow slit.

In Scotland, especially on the Hebrides I saw various types of honor stalls. One sold all kinds of food, prepared and unprepared even warm pies, another one was just a Box with cakes, brownies and muffins and some thermos with tea and coffee and some dishes placed at a POI. In both cases you put your money just into a carboard box, so you could even get change.


> Unmanned stalls with vegetables can be found all over the world. Germany, Norway, the U.S., Australia, Canada, the UK are among the countries where the honor system isn’t any novelty.

This seems to be a property of the rural community rather than the country/people. The same happens in Tunisia in some very rural/remote places. The farmer will put their produce on the road, and then the buyers will collect from the road.

This was a surprise to me as Tunisia cities are plagued with vandalism and property theft.



You have to understand that Switzerland is a very rich and very expensive country. Stealing some fruits would be a really dumb crime to commit, when you can steal much more expensive things easily.

Any place with a high trust society tends to do this. I see farm stands and camp wood stands with honor boxes all over rural New England.

Seems to me that the farmers will need to charge a premium to make up for theft, assuming that the total amount stolen is greater than the cost of someone sitting there.

For rural areas where turnover is low and where there’s more trust, this system sounds pretty effective.

On a side note, this isn’t exactly an honor system, as the cash is still locked away I’m guessing.


Very similar situation in Ikaria (Greece) - https://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/magazine/the-island-where...

Very common here in Western Washington (Microsoft country). We get honey, flowers, and produce that way

Very common in rural New England as well. This may be common in many other rural areas, I’d guess.

I saw one of these in Washington State in October 2016, and I thought it was super cool. I bought some sweet corn and BBQ sauce :)

https://imgur.com/a/wmka5yA



This phenomenon isn't unique to Switzerland, or even Europe. Farmstands throughout Western NY and PA have similar setups: Grab some fresh fruits, veggies, eggs, etc... and leave your cash in the box.

I've seen some in Germany (e.g. Pick flowers, put coins into the box), but I like the ones I found in Switzerland more - larger selection including fruit, vegetables and eggs. Maybe I just got lucky.

There's a farm stall in Bolinas, California that sells produce with the honor system. It's the first one I've encountered in my life.

I had no idea this was much more widespread.


It's also like that in the Massachusetts countryside.

How does that actually work ? It takes only one thief to steal the entire box of payments.

Do they have hidden camera to dissuade people of stealing the box ?


I've seen this with firewood in California. It probably costs the producer more to have someone there then it does losing a portion of stock to theft.

It's very common with firewood bundles in areas of New England where, in the summer, a lot of tourists are buying firewood to burn at a campground. Quite a few houses have some bundles of firewood out that they probably cut themselves from dead trees/branches on the property along with an honor box. Very small-time supplemental income operations that aren't nearly worth someone hanging out all day for maybe only $20 or so.

This isn't that unusual at roadside stands I see in some rural places in the US.

If someone isn't there they just leave a box or bucket with a sign.


Some of them provide free tasting as well: small glasses and many open bottles so that the customer can try all flavors before buying one.

Not sure what’s so extraordinary about this — I’ve used such rural systems in France, Germany, Australia, Canada, and the USA.

They used to have this in Finland too, but it seems to be dying out. Such a shame, but I guess it is inevitable.

Why are they dying out?

Very likely different forms of "lower social cohesion."

What, if anything, do the quotation marks mean here?

never relax

I don't know, but I can guess there are two main reasons:

- farming contracts where all produce is owned by X

- decrease in honesty


I've driven extensively in California, Hawaii, and other western states, and this is extremely common.

in many German offices you may find the Snackbox (http://www.snackbox.de/). it's based on trust based payment and they'll cover the difference. i genuinely love those concepts.

This happens all over rural southwestern ontario as well.

I never thought it was strange or newsworthy as a result.


Yeah, I really miss the road side corn from back home.

I just came across and patronized an honor system farm stand in Bolinas Ca yesterday.

There a a few places off of summit rd. In NorCal that do the same thing.

Very common in Denmark too.

They have this in Ontario.

This is what high trust society looks like.

I saw these in rural New Zealand in 1982.

They're still there in 2019.

> the U.S...[is] among the countries where the honor system isn’t any novelty.

I've seen plenty of roadside stands, but I've never seen one of these in my life


The honor system was also used in World of Warcraft: https://wowwiki.fandom.com/wiki/Honor_system_(pre-2.0)



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