But what do the tourists do?

You pretty much have to have a credit card (or two) in order to stay in Sweden anymore. They are trying hard to get rid of cash, theoretically because it might get stolen, but more likely so that the government can have more control of revenue streams. So I make it a point to withdraw cash from an ATM and pay cash for everything.

Except when I can't. 

We were in Lund, planning on eating at a nice restaurant, and pulled into one of my favorite parking places near the station. Only 12 SEK (about 1,20 €) an hour, and we were parking half an hour before you didn't have to pay anymore. So I was planning on throwing six crowns into the box. Except it looked like this:

"Only cards and telephone parking"
Although the machine states that it takes coins, there is a handwritten piece of paper taped over the coin slot. "Only cards and telephone parking," it says. Sheesh. I even have exact change handy. Okay, what's this "telephone parking" bit, what number do I call?

Well, first you have to install an app, and then:

Start the app - send an SMS with the following information:
Zone Code, Register Number, Personnr

Oops - once you have the app started, you have to sent off the code for the parking zone, the code for the machine you are standing in front of, and then your personnr. All Swedes have such a number, but tourists don't. I used to have one, as I worked in Sweden, but it has been marked no longer valid in the massive Swedish databases that Sweden appears to let IBM store in Romania and elsewhere. So I can't do anything with that number, not even pay 60 cents to park my car. And since the fines for not paying the parking fee are very steep (they start at about 1000 SEK, 100 €. I can think of better things to do with that amount of money), I don't want to walk away.

So I ended up pulling out my credit card to pay 60 cents. This is considered normal in Sweden, you don't even use your PIN number. Buying milk or a newspaper is also often just paid for by waving a card at the machine. Of course, the Swedes have never been in debt as much as they are today, probably because they use credit cards so much. If there are no coins in my pocket, I can quickly determine that I don't have money for a coffee. But with a credit card, I lose that connection with my money -- and end up paying interest to the bank, which is, of course, what they want. 

Sweden is highly dependent on tourists (9,6 % of their GNP is travel and tourism!), so perhaps they need to discover that they need to organize their society so that non-Swedes can also participate.

I just had a fight with the bank about this, they didn't want to give me a little electric box to produce the number I need to transfer funds by Internet without a personnr. 1998 I wrote an article about the "holy personnr" and it is still bad and getting worse. The bank teller wouldn't give it to me, her boss said no, too. No personnr, no box, no matter that I have money in their bank. I asked for the name of someone to complain to.

I wrote this person and included links to the appropriate EU legislation. EU citizens have the same rights as locals in ALL EU countries. That's pretty much the point of the EU! A few weeks later I got a letter apologizing and saying: of course you can get a box with your German passport.

So this past week I went back. It took some hemming and hawing, but I left with my new little box. They insisted, though, that I try it out in the bank. I said I was not comfortable using a computer that was not my own. Oh, you can be sure, it's encrypted! Sigh.

But honestly, we can navigate the system, as we have vacationed here for many years. What on earth do tourists do?