Okay, let me just be blunt and say it up front: the Dutch have a reputation for being, er, cheap. I could try to be polite, and say they aren’t exactly known for spending their money freely, but Dutch people even refer to themselves as “tight,” so there is no point in beating around the bush.
This manifests itself in the preponderence of loyalty cards and freebies, a marketing motivation which the Dutch consumer seems all to inclined to respond to. For example, the Dutch ritualistically ahdere to the presentation of their Albert Heijn Bonus card at the supermarket check out. Similar to the Tesco Club Card, Sainsbury’s Nectar Card, or Stop & Shop Card, you accumulate points for being a loyal grocery shopper.
When my partner first arrived in The Netherlands, he was not yet clued up to the sanctity of the Albert Heijn Bonus card and was often met by incredulous stares at the check out when he failed to present it. The Dutch person behind him in the queue would then jump on the opportunity to apply his shopping points to their bonus card (if a person is stupid enough not to have a Bonus card, surely someone else deserves to get the points). Even when we got the card, we often found ourselves not quick enough in extracting it from our wallets, prompting the customer behind us to try to foist their card on the cashier to steal our points.
Other examples of the Dutch obsession with a “free lunch” abound. Once I was at a bar with my Dutch friend and he ordered two of a certain type of beer only because it was advertised as coming with a free game (admittedly the game was quite cool). Another time I was in the HEMA cafeteria and picked up a flyer on the counter and tried to make out what was written on it in Dutch. An old man standing next to me pointed to the backside, which had 10 blank squares, and began to excitedly explain that if you buy 10 coffees you get 2 coffees free. He then pulled out his coffee loyalty card, proudly revealing 4 stamps. Maybe I should have offered to give him the stamp for my coffee… it would have made his day.