Column startled couch potatoes: annoying pee break

Earning money by urinating. On highways, rest stops make additional dough through forced vouchers. The alternative: truck stops. There, the urinator gets a voucher as a gift.

The rip-off with vouchers at the pee break. Picture: dpa

Vacation time. Travel time. Traffic jams on highways. Urgent pee breaks. The business with the toilets in German freeway service stations is going strong. A business worth millions. The typical restroom at rest stops is clean and has feel-good music.

390 formerly state-owned rest areas belong to the service company Tank & Rast. It holds 90 percent of the concessions for ancillary businesses on the highways. They complain about increasing pressure from the service station group: joint purchasing and cash register systems, obligatory training courses – the private operators’ scope for action is dwindling. Even toilets are being brought into line.

The subsidiary of Tank & Rast is Sanifair, which is responsible for toilets. It costs 70 cents to use them, and users get 50 cents back in the form of a voucher that can be used to pay for everything from Coke and Bild newspapers to thermo cups. Cash payment excluded.

The compulsion to urinate is thus immediately followed by the compulsion to consume, thus generating high added value. In the meantime, the vouchers are traded on Amazon and eBay, children look for them in trash cans, and bus drivers are happy to take them as tips.

80 percent of these value vouchers are redeemed, 20 percent expire, Tank & Rast explained. Assuming that 75 million Sanifair vouchers are issued annually, users give Sanifair 7.5 million euros as a gift, Die Welt has calculated.

Even Germany’s drivers’ lobby, the ADAC, is getting worked up about the urinal culture and has come up with an alternative: the truck stops. There, users pay only 50 cents and are even reimbursed a handsome 70 cents in the form of a value coupon.

With this 20-cent pee bonus, truck stops want to make up for their location disadvantage. After all, to get to them, the traveler has to take a short exit from the highway.

Then he could immediately look for a protective bush or tree. As a self-determined domain of freedom against the capitalist principles of exploitation!

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