I have used supermarkets in Germany (REWE, etc). But I found that whenever I purchase a bottled drink the price described on the selves was different from what I actually paid.

For example in one case, one bottled juice was shown 0.95 on the shelf, but the actual price I paid was 1.10.

At first I thought it is just my misunderstanding, but it sounds the same thing happend in most cases (or maybe always).

I also wondered it is due to VAT and the price at the shelf doesn't include it. But 0.95 * 1.19 = 1.13, not 1.10.

So what is happening here? Is this something like a credit card charge or an entrance charge?

For your information I always used Amex or VISA to make a payment, and buy only one bottled drink which costs about 0.8 to 1.6 on the shelf price.

  • 39
    There are container deposits in a number of European countries and parts of the United States. Aug 2, 2017 at 5:24
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – JonathanReez
    Aug 5, 2017 at 18:21
  • If you want real sticker shock, buy a multipack of small bottles or cans. Each individual one will have its own Pfand. For a pack of six small plastic bottles, it adds €1.50 to the price at the register! (But of course you get it all back when you bring the empty bottles back.)
    – Kyralessa
    Oct 15, 2017 at 11:53

3 Answers 3


You are paying for the drink and a deposit for the bottle. The deposit should be listed on the shelves, but usually in small print. Look for something like "zzgl. 0,15 Pfand". As to your initial thought, prices on supermarket shelves include VAT.

There are deposits on many but not all drink containers, the rules are complicated. Deposits apply to non-reusable containers as well as reusable ones, this is to discourage littering and to make sure that the reusable containers are not an economic disadvantage. These deposits can be 8 ct, 10 ct, 15 ct, or 25 ct.

You can reclaim your deposit, even in a different shop than the one where you purchased it, provided they sell the same bottles. Most larger supermarkets have machines to scan the bottles and print out a receipt that can be turned in at the cash register. It is possible to reclaim money even if you do not buy anything.

Most Germans return their empty bottles and claim the deposit, of course. When you do not want to do that, it is considered polite to put the bottle next to a public waste bin, not into it. Some people will collect them and reclaim the deposit as a way to make a little money.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Mark Mayo
    Aug 4, 2017 at 8:23

Prices in supermarkets in Germany always already include VAT. What you've been paying extra is called "Pfand": basically a deposit for the bottle, which can be reused or recycled. You can return the empty bottle in the supermarket to get that money back.

  • See dict.leo.org/englisch-deutsch/Pfandflasche for a translation Btw, many German supermarkets have "reverse vending machines" to accept these bottles and print a ticket which you can present at the check-out for a discount
    – Mawg
    Aug 1, 2017 at 21:56
  • 6
    A tiny detail: the tickets are not just for a discount, they are required to pay you back that amount even if you make no purchase. This just very rarely happens -> Most people will just bring their empty bottles when they plan to buy things anyway.
    – Layna
    Aug 2, 2017 at 9:08
  • 8
    Not just Germany, all European Union countries must show prices that are tax inclusive.
    – Qwerky
    Aug 2, 2017 at 10:35
  • @Qwerky correct but only in B2C context. Of course supermarkets fall into this category. :) Aug 4, 2017 at 20:45
  • 2
    The typical setup of a German resident is that they have for example two crates of beer at home, and when one is empty they exchange the crate with 20 empty bottles for a crate with 20 full bottles (two crates so you never, ever run out of beer :-) . So they pay for the crate and bottles once in their lifetime. It's admittedly inconvenient for tourists.
    – gnasher729
    Aug 5, 2017 at 15:04

Here's a picture of the logo which is printed on recyclable bottles/cans which carry a deposit (typically €0.25):

enter image description here

Considering the amount you paid (€0.15), the juice you bought was in a refillable bottle of 0.5L or more.

If you don't want to be charged the deposit when you purchase your drink, look for single-use bottles/cans (i.e. PET bottles, aluminum cans or Tetra-packs) which don't have the icon.

  • 7
    All bottles/cans of the same type of drink have the same deposit. So if you want a beer you have to choose between 25 ct deposit on a can or 8 ct on a glass bottle. Getting a beer without a deposit is usually not possible (in a supermarket).
    – Graipher
    Aug 2, 2017 at 8:50
  • 23
    This logo is only on bottles that will be recycled. Bottles that will be reused do not have such a logo, but carry a deposit nonetheless.
    – user24582
    Aug 2, 2017 at 8:52
  • 2
    I meant if you want some specific kind of drink, then you usually can't choose whether or not you want to buy something with or without deposit. But you are right, juices come also in Tetrapaks, which have no deposit.
    – Graipher
    Aug 2, 2017 at 8:55
  • 3
    @ Dmitry Grigoryev: The logo is used only on recycle bottles that carry a deposit. Btw, only carbonated drinks must carry a deposit, so juices usually don't.
    – user24582
    Aug 2, 2017 at 8:58
  • 2
    @Graipher Juices in PET bottles exist both with and without a deposit. Perhaps for some drinks you really have no choice. Aug 2, 2017 at 8:59

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