Tag Archives: PLN

Fake zloty – an adventure in misunderstanding

About 9 months ago I had an encounter with some fake złoty that could have cost me . It had been a nice summers day, and I was walking home at about 8pm past a few local shops that had closed for the evening, not long after moving to Poland. Suddenly, I spotted an interesting looking piece of paper on the ground.  To my surprise and delight, it appeared to be a 100 złotych note. The street was deserted, so there was no-one nearby that I could ask, in case they had dropped it. And with the shops nearby being closed, it was the same story there. Believing that it was ‘safe’ to claim it, I placed it in my wallet and continued home. I was obviously happy with the find, but thought nothing more of it for a while.

A few days later, my wife and I went to a local dry-cleaners to have a jacket cleaned. When the time came to pay, I produced my ‘lucky’ 100 PLN note. The cashier looked at it for a second, and then her eyes closed at little with suspicion. She opened the cash till and took out another 100 złotych note in order to compare them. After about 5 seconds of analysis, she decided that she could not accept my note. She thought that it looked dodgy . My wife had some other cash available instead, and offered to pay quickly. The cashier was satisfied that was fine, and we proceeded to finish the transaction. But understandably, it left me feeling both confused and disappointed that my lucky find was not for real.

Cash TillMoney, Money, Money

Later I took  a real 100zl from the ATM in order to compare. The fake was the right size and shape. It was creased in parts, meaning that it had the look of wear-and-tear of a normal note. The print ‘quality’ of the images and text and numbers on the note were very good also. However, the key difference was in the colouring. The real 100 złotych note is pale green in colour. The shade of green on the counterfeit version was a deeper, darker green with a touch of blue also. This was much more noticeable when the two sat side by side. Also, when checked under light it was not possible to see the watermark on the counterfeit note. The watermark is the most difficult thing to copy on official money, showing us that our 100 złotych was indeed fake. It was a bit of a disappointment indeed. We did see the light side of things though and it is now taking pride of place in our kitchen, held in place by a fridge magnet.

However, a Polish friend visited a few days ago and he spotted the note.  I explained the story to him and he said that we were in fact very lucky. He informed us that the cashier would have been ‘correct’ to possibly call the police to have us arrested for using counterfeit money. It could have been taken quite seriously. 

So, I guess the moral of the story is that sometimes it can just be ‘too good to be true’.

100zl_front

Can you spot the difference(s)?

Tagged , , , ,

eBay Poland – Buyer beware

Poland has home-grown clones of every internet giant. If you’re Polish the chances are you don’t use Facebook, you use Nasza Klasa; you don’t use Skype, you use Gadu-Gadu; you don’t use Digg, you use Wykop; you don’t use The Onion, you use Polandian*; and you certainly don’t use eBay, you use Allegro.

The phenomenon of nation-specific versions of internet blockbusters has had web gurus scratching their heads for some time now (it’s a phenomenon that is certainly not unique to Poland). After all, every one of these international services allows you to converse, sell, bitch, moan and idly chat in every language under the sun, so why do language-specific clones of these sites do so well in their home countries?

Rather than hurt my brain trying to answer this question I present two examples from eBay Polska that may go some way towards an explanation:

eBay Poland

Not a business I think I’ll bother getting into

eBay Poland 1

…on the other hand

*notice the clever way I associated us with multi-million dollar websites there, that’s what I get paid for… no, wait, that’s not right

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 Curiosities: Polish But True, or Close Enough

1.

Can life in Poland be…demanding?

If you are alive, that is.

Well, should a Polish pensioner reside abroad, some authorities may be asked to confirm the person has not died yet, away from homeland. Documents such as this Slovene-Polish pdf (see Page 2) make sense: “This is to confirm that pensioner [name, surname, particulars] remains alive” — Why pay the dead?

Powers That Insure can go further. Polish ZUS wants to cut red tape even more effectively! Maybe its own red tape in fact. Why have heftily-paid office workers confirm that some pensioners live? Pensioners know better whether they are alive or not – so can fill in documents themselves, right? Grab this pdf while it’s not removed yet. Or simply read: “Me, the undersigned […] hereby I declare that I live and reside at the above mentioned address”

2.

Life is not certain, no. But taxes are.

Some people could have the annually recurrent problem of choosing the right tax return form. If you were employed AND had some temporarily suspended business activity (a curio itself, the instrument of “suspension” can be recognised by tax authorities [US] – though won’t be accepted by social insurance authorities [ZUS]), meaning – if you had no turnover, no profits or losses, no trade as your business is dormant PIT 37 form should seem to be the right choice – comprising any and all sources of your income (employment, period).

Despite a substantial difference between the meanings of “to run a business” and “to draw income from a business”, the tax office would insist that you fill in PIT 36 for business activists. Your business is dormant, not run, you hardly even walk it, nonetheless you would be asked to write in a few zeros into PIT36. Zero income is some income too, tax office will try to reason.

And why? — The software designed for handling tax data can’t process the difference.

3.

The basic way to calculate fiscal dues is by means of some calculating machine. Surely many people have seen one HP calculator or more. But if Jan Lukasiewicz had not suggested POLISH NOTATION, later re-turned into REVERSE POLISH NOTATION – they would not be so efficient. Moreover, no model among them could be called “first desktop computer“.

4.

Another way to get away with taxes is pay whatever the leeches want from us, no calculating. If only they should let us use superbucks. So, what do you reckon this is?…

…This is not a 100 American dollar bill. This is a 100 dollar superbill. Back in the late 90s (if my memory is correct), the USA would ponder whether acts of forging their notes form enough of casus belli to go to, hmm, North Korea to spread democracy (and oil companies or whatever manifest destiny USA would hold for them) there. In the process of US Secret Service search, some of world’s best counterfeit hunners were found in Poland. They were recognized as fake only because they’d been prepared more carefully than the usual greenback would be.

Given the deep falling rates of US Dollar or British Pound against Polish Zloty, it is not improbable we’ll live to see the times the Polish currency will be chosen often by money copyists (and Andrew Eldritch will prove himself a visionary).

5.

But let’s drive on.

Brits have Robin Hood (on foot). Americans have Green Arrow (left). Poles have green arrow (right).

Green arrows in Poland have been meant to improve traffic flow. But not everywhere. In some cities they survived, in others they did not — after a minister’s call for Greenland Clearances, to remove the arrows (or, more economically, just blind with any non translucent wrapping, or drown in dark plastic bags). Today they seem to have regained favours with Polish streets. [But anyone seen them abroad? Do they blink? Are they painted? Fixed for good?]

6.

Arrows come and go. Unlike the national church of Poland. However, anyone seriously cross with the ‘men in black’ may choose to become apostate. There are a few websites in Poland yet with model documents, the first step on the way outside Roman Catholicism, domestic variety.

7.

Arrows or no arrows, the road to church or the road to perdition – when you have a vehicle, kids may happen.

Browsing the net for any statistics concerning “babies conceived in cars”, I found several American mentions – stress put on specific car brands in lieu of broader analyses. So, talk to me about the whole Model T-Ford’s backseat generation? Or was it the backseat of 1985 Camaro (at a Springsteen concert)? What about 1969 Cutlass Supreme (at an AC/DC show)? What is the meaning of 1957 black Chevrolet convertible in Paris Hilton’s life? Where are 1962 Bug babies gone? Or 1971 Plymouth babies? Hmm, that kind of stuff.

When Polish would-be parents are not against marriage – actually if they are all about marriage – it is possible to “request” or “kindly request” that 30 days of the statutory waiting at the public registrar’s be shortened to its shotgun minimum. The fiancé will have to put down some justification (“I hereby declare my fiancée is pregnant”, add “we hereby declare we would like our baby to be born within wedlock”), the couple will have to sign the application – and pay some 40 zloty to cover stamp duty. [Specimen documents in Polish here (USC/05) or there or googlewhere.] The registrar may take the applicants’ word for the fact about pregnancy.

Article 4 of “Kodeks rodzinny i opiekuńczy” (Polish Family and Guardianship Code) that covers the issue of the 30 days long waiting before the ceremony is not all clear to me. Why wait?

Why to shorten the waiting seems more obvious. The Code dates back to 1964, the time when ‘family’ stood firmly for the ‘basic social unit’, the core of the healthy tissue of the healthy society, and illegitimate babies were just three of seven bits less unwelcome than, say, the unemployed, or prostitutes or drug addicts.

8.

But there’s something worth any sacrifice to the bureaucratic.

The wedding. The drinking.

While breathalysers scale usually ends with BAC of 0.40%, lethal dose for every second human — the urban legend has it that Poles and Russians often defy the scale, the tall tale the proud sons of the two nations would be happy to oblige. Despite the accusations (?) that Poles “have been using alcohol for only fifteen hundred years“. For maybe it’s attitude that counts most? “Poles […] tend to drink for the sake of drinking“. Idealists, one might say.

So, there was that idealist from Poland, who scored BAC 0.70% – and survived out of his burnt down car:

And there was a Bulgarian who scored over 0.90. (Bulgarians are kinda Poles, huh?)

9.

Then, just when someone could start thinking scornfully than Poland can’t sober up, the proof of reason is found in the building. And the building is in Szymbark. A local saying will go: “My emoh is my eltsac”, I assume. The thing is Europeanly unique, dwellable, and Lech Walesa cut the ribbon.

To your health!

10.

Let’s call it:

Reverse Polish Narration.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,