User adds too many zeros, bids over 200.000 Swiss francs for number plate

User adds too many zeros, bids over 200.000 Swiss francs for number plate

When it comes to using the internet, we have all fallen victim to a misclick, typo and, most terrifyingly, the “cast to family TV” button when you are watching a YouTube video on your mobile phone about how to dance to Aqua’s hit song “Barbie Girl.” One person from Canton Schwyz must have been given a similar shock after they accidentally bid over 200.000 francs for a number plate.

Low number plates a status symbol in Switzerland

Drivers in Switzerland know full well that if they want to adorn the front of their cars or motorbikes with a low number plate, they have to be prepared to fork out hundreds or even thousands for the privilege. As Swiss cars are registered to families or individuals, not the vehicles themselves - in theory, “BE 1” was once owned by the first person to have a car in Canton Bern - number plates can be recycled back into the system via an online auction.

This has led to extremely nail-biting auctions that have seen motorists bid hundreds of thousands of francs for the lowest numbers. Currently, ZG 10 holds the record for the most expensive Swiss number plate, selling for 233.000 francs.

SZ 788 on track for being third most expensive plate sold

For the cantonal roads office in Schwyz, officials may have thought that they would be breaking the record with SZ 788. Initially, things started slowly with the website registering the highest bid at just 22.000 francs at 10pm on October 17. 

Suddenly, a quick refresh of the page revealed that someone going by the username “Gauner” had decided to bid a whopping 223.000 francs. This would make SZ 788 the most expensive number plate ever sold in the canton, and the third most expensive ever sold nationally behind ZG 10 and ZH 50.

Bidder had written too many zeros on number plate bid

However, before officials in the canton could pop the champagne - all the proceeds from number plate auctions are given to the cantonal authorities - an email hastily arrived from Gauner. In the message, they pleaded for the bid to be withdrawn as they had, in their wisdom, accidentally written too many zeros.

Because it was an obvious mistake, the local office for transport cancelled the auction, although no one was willing to match the insane offer. “For the sake of fairness, we will repeat the auction soon,” the office wrote. They said that while Gauner won’t receive any punishment or charge for scuppering the auction, he will be banned if they do it again.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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