Post is normally delivered once a day in the morning, Monday to Saturday; several times a day for businesses. There is no post on Sunday. Parcels are delivered by separate mail. If an item will not fit in your post box, the postal worker will ring your bell; if you are not in, he or she might leave it with a neighbour. If no one is available, the postal worker will take the item back and leave a note in your post box telling you when and where you can collect it (usually from the nearest post office). When you go to collect the item, you must take some means of identification with you.
You can also apply at your local post office for a post office box where your mail will be collected for you to pick up.
To send post, you will find yellow post boxes bearing the black post horn, the symbol of Deutsche Post, at a number of places. The post box will have on it information when it is emptied. Price lists giving in- formation on which stamps you need to send mail at home and abroad are available at post offices. Local post offices are open Monday to Friday, usually 8:30 to 18:00, and Saturday until about 12.30. In smaller towns, there are also branches in supermarkets where they have a desk at the entrance.
Apart from the post office, other providers have counters in lottery agencies or beverage stores. It is worth comparing the shipping costs and the time it will take.
The telephone network in Germany is largely in the hands of Deutsche Telekom; however, there are also a number of network operators that may be cheaper. If you are looking particularly at special foreign or combined Internet and telephone tariffs, discuss this with a supplier who can meet your needs.
Most public phone boxes accept credit cards, coins or telephone cards which you can obtain at post offices, telephone shops or kiosks. There are also Internet cafés where you can telephone abroad. Note: Calls from phones in hotels or restaurants are usually more expensive than public phones.
If you want to use a mobile phone, compare the services and rates offered by the numerous providers; pre-paid cards may be a good option. If you take out a contract, be aware of how long it will run.
There are also a number of attractive call-by-call programmes where you can save money by keying in a certain number before the actual tel- ephone number. This too will allow you to make cheaper calls.
Skype is a useful alternative. This allows you to have a free telephone conversation with your family, friends or colleagues over the Internet (even with a webcam).
Most Germans use their surname when answering the telephone. If you call anyone, it is a matter of courtesy to also announce yourself by your surname first, and then ask for the person to whom you would like to speak.
You can find telephone numbers either from telephone directories or online (www.dasoertliche.de). There is also a directory inquiries service that you might find useful when looking for telephone numbers, although there is a charge for this. The rates for these service costs are quoted in advance (approximately 50 cents to 2 euro).