For some reason (well, personal experience, too), I always take it for granted that by virtue of its diminutive size Austria is very provincial and seriously lacking in consumer friendliness and customer care. Take our rather restrictive shop opening hours for example. Or the fact that staff at railway stations or airports have only a very rudimentary grasp (if at all) of foreign languages. My recent visit to Düsseldorf and Cologne showed me that we still can learn from our German neighbours when it comes to customer "unfriendliness". Just to give you three examples:
1.) Train ticket machines at Cologne airport (as well as Cologne central station and Düsseldorf central station, by the way) only accept cash or German EC cards. Try with an international Maestro card - tough luck. Don't be so deluded to assume that at the manned ticket counter they accept your bank or Visa card, either.
2.) Owners of a German bank account can only take out money from a cashpoint of a branch of their own bank unless they want to pay exorbitant fees. Thankfully, tourists can withdraw money from any ATM and not pay extra fees.
3.) Even fewer stores than in Austria seem to accept credit cards, such as Habitat in Düsseldorf.
In spite of such retail obstacles I did boost the German economy and bought:
various pressies at Habitat
a pair of skinny stretchy denim trousers and a long top with belt to be worn with them
a sexy(ish) black top for the office Christmas party
a case for my new camera
a SWATCH watch (duty free shop)
Chiquita, who is currently doing an internship at a cosmetics company gave me tonnes of free products. Thanks to her, my cellulite craters should be under control for a while.