In Italian train system, you buy ticket, and when you board the train, you should stamp the ticket. It is also the same practise in Dusseldorf in-city transportation, U-bahn etc.
We were in LaSpazia on the beautiful Mediterranean coast of Italy on 6th March 2003. An Italian contractor company has recently received a big order in Turkey to supply water treatment system. Italian Company wanted to subcontract some non-critical heavy construction of the plant to local companies. We have delivered a number of proposals, inquiries, corrections, modifications, price reductions back- and forth. Then they invited us to their head office in LaSpazia for final negotiation and contract if all agreed between ourselves.
We were very pleased to be invited. An ongoing economic crisis at home, company had to get smaller and smaller. It would be excellent to receive almost one-year order, almost a life kiss for all of us in the organisation. It was also an opportunity to upgrade ourselves, more communication with an international company, more technical expertise, more quality control procedures, more intellectual capital besides of incoming money.
We arrived to LaSpezia town by the seaside at evening time by Train from Milano via Cenova. Our client advised us to stay in Lolly Hotel, the best and the most expensive hotel in Town. It was raining. Anyhow we went to the seaside, watched and reviewed the sea port facilities. It is maybe one of the biggest seaport on Mediterranean Sea with Italian war ship repair facilities, and Fiat car exports.
We spent the next day in our client's meeting room. We clarified everything, price, delivery, quality control, except downpayment. They offered 10 percent downpayment, whereby we asked more since we were to purchase all necessary steel sheets from third party suppliers with upfront payments. We could not finance the project.
Our negotiation had deadlocked. In order to overcome deadlock, we decided to return home and investigate counter offer with more local internal financing. We thanked, and expressed our best wishes to our counter party, said all the best, and left the company. We called a taxi and headed for train station.
We were tired, displeased with the meetings, and unable to speak further. We boarded the train. We forgot to stamp our tickets in the train station. You should stamp your train ticket before you board the train in Italy. If you miss the train you may catch the next one next day.
Anyhow we had some small talk. We had a beautiful sunset on the Mediterranean Sea. We stopped almost all train stations on the way to Cenova.
Conductor came and asked our tickets. He noticed that our tickets were not stamped. He warned that we should pay fine, 5 Euros for not stamping the tickets. "I have to make job" in English. If we were Italians, then we should be paying 50 Euros. We objected first since he could stamp now with his manual equipment, he said- No way, you should do it before boarding. Ok, we paid our penalty but we had a sour feeling that this procedure was not fair.
We arrived to Cenova. Conductor changed. Some passengers left the train, some new passengers boarded. On the last minute before departure, a beautiful, young Italian lady with a heavy had drawn luggage has entered in hurry. She was exhausted in order to catch the train. She took of her coat, placed her bags, relaxed some and started to read her magazine.
New conductor has arrived. He checked our ticket and noticed our fine, he said nothing. Then he passed to the next passenger, beautiful but younger Sofia Loren. Our Sofia gave him her ticket. It was not stamped. It was too late for her while boarding. Who could write a fine in an Italian train for a latecomer beautiful Italian lady? Conductor assuming that we are foreigners and we do not understand Italian, he said in low volume Italian
Please my lady - please do not forget to stamp your ticket next time-
and he returned her ticket with no more preventive action. Actually it was not necessary to understand Italian since his warning finger was so apparent. Anyhow who could write a fine ticket to a beautiful Italian lady latecomer in hurry in an Italian train? I wouldn't.
Ankara, 19th May 2005