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LOTTERY

Nearly 300 extra winners and €450,000 bill after German lottery employee error

A monthly scratch card competition run by a German lottery company may be forced to pay out almost half a million euros after an employee mistake. The employee is apparently 'devastated', but will not be punished.

Nearly 300 extra winners and €450,000 bill after German lottery employee error
'Lucky' numbers. Image: DPA

Making an error at work is regrettable at the best of times. But as reported in the Westdeutsche Zeitung, for one Bochum lottery company worker, a simple numerical mistake has cost his company €450,000. 

German lottery company Faber runs a monthly scratch card competition, where card recipients can check their four-number result against the numbers published in the company’s monthly free magazine. 

If the numbers match, they’re entitled to a €1,500 prize. Each month, the competition is designed to have 15 winning scratch cards – meaning the company must pay out a total of €22,500. 

In January, the winning numbers as planned were 6-8-10-16, however the staff member wrongly inserted 15 instead of 16 as the final number. When the hopeful scratch card customers checked their results against those printed, 300 found their lucky numbers. 

‘We’re sorry’

After hundreds of people approached the company to claim their winnings, Faber quickly realized the scope of the error had left them liable for 300 payments of €1,500 (€450,000) rather than the usual 15 (€22,500). 

The company sought to get out of the obligation to pay by apologizing and promising the ‘lucky winners’ €100 each. They said they regretted the error but that their decision on the matter was final. 

The case highlighted the controlled nature of lotto and other 'chance' competitions. Image: DPA

One angry customer complained to the Westdeutscher Rundfunk television program ‘Servicezeit’ (Service Time) in mid-February and explained their complaint. Faber decided to avoid further controversy by paying out the full €1,500 – but only to that customer. 

After the case gained additional notoriety – and the involvement of a lawyer – each recipient has been encouraged to plead their case. 

Faber eventually relented, agreeing to pay the full amount to each scratch card holder who comes forward.

‘He’s devastated’

The company was quick to point out that the employee would not be punished for his mistake. It told the Rheinische Post that the staff member would not need to fear personal consequences. 

“He’s devastated, (but) we’ve explicitly asked him to continue working for us,” the company told the newspaper.

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The firm has already begun a process of improving its scratch card system so that similar errors can be avoided in future. 

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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Snobs, beaches and drunks – 5 things this joke map teaches us about France

A popular joke 'map' of France has once again been widely shared on social media, sparking endless jokes at the expense of certain regions of France.

Snobs, beaches and drunks - 5 things this joke map teaches us about France
Image AFP/cartesfrance.fr
But while the map – created by cartesfrance.fr – is clearly intended to be comic, it teaches us some important points about France’s regional divides, local stereotypes and in-jokes.
 

 
 
 
Here are some of the key points.
 
1. Everyone hates Parisians
 
The map is purportedly France as seen through the eyes of Parisians, and contains a series of snobbish and rude generalisations about every part of France that is not maison (home) in the capital and its surroundings. The great majority of the country is labelled simply as paysans (peasants).
 
The general stereotype about Parisians is that they are snobs, rudely judging the rest of the country which they regard as backwards and full of ploucs (yokels) apart from small areas which make nice holiday destinations.
 
Like all sweeping generalisations, this is true of some people and very much not of others, but one of the few things that can unite people from all areas of France is how much they hate les parigots têtes de veaux (a colloquialism that very roughly translates as ‘asshole Parisians’)
 
 
2. Staycations rule
 
Even before Covid-related travel restrictions, holidaying within France was the norm for many French people.
 
As the map shows, Parisians regard the southern and western coastlines as simply plages (beaches) which they decamp to for at least a month in July or August. In the height of summer French cities tend to empty out (apart from tourists) as locals head to the seaside or the countryside.
 
 
In winter the Pyrenees and Alps are popular ski destinations.
 
3. Northerners like a drink
 
There is a very widespread stereotype, although not really backed up by evidence, that the people of Normandy, Brittany and the Nord area like a drink or two. Many suggest this is to cope with the weather, which does tend to be rainier than the rest of France (although has plenty of sunshine too).
 
 
Official health data doesn’t really back this up, as none of these areas show a significantly greater than average rate of daily drinkers, although Nord does hold the sad record for the highest rate of people dying from alcohol-related liver disease.
 
What’s certainly true is that Brittany and Normandy are cider country, with delicious locally-produced ciders on sale everywhere, well worth a try if you are visiting.
 
 
4. Poverty
 
The map labels the north eastern corner of France as simply pauvres – the poor.
 
The north east of the country was once France’s industrial and coal-mining heartland, and as traditional industries have declined there are indeed pockets of extreme poverty and high unemployment. The novel The End of Eddy, telling the story of novelist Edouard Louis’ childhood in a struggling small town near Amiens, lays out the social problems of such areas in stark detail.
 
However poverty is not just confined to one corner of France and the département that records the highest levels of deprivation is actually Seine-Saint-Denis in the Paris suburbs.
 
5. Southern prejudice
 
According to the map, those from the south are either branleurs (slackers) or menteurs (liars). 
 
This isn’t true, obviously, there are many lovely, hard-working and truthful people in southern France, but the persistent stereotype is that they are lazy – maybe because it’s too hot to do much work – and slightly shifty.
 
Even people who aren’t actually rude about southerners can be pretty patronising, as shown when south west native Jean Castex became the prime minister in summer 2020. 
 
Castex has a noticeable south west accent which sparked much comment from the Paris-based media and political classes, with comments ranging from the patronising – “I love his accent, I feel like I’m on holiday” – to the very patronising – “that accent is a bit rugby” (a reference to the fact that TV rugby commentators often come from France’s rugby heartlands in the south west).
 
 
In his first year as PM, Castex has undertaken a dizzying schedule of appointments around the four corners of France, so hopefully the lazy myth can now be put to bed.
 
And anyone tempted to take the piss out of his accent – glottophobie (accent prejudice) is now a crime in France.
 
For more maps that reflect France, head to cartesfrance.fr
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