Shopping is not Paul Bilton's favourite sport, especially as Switzerland is no bastion of consumer rights.

I was out to buy a new TV - one of those flashy wall-mounted flat ones. Prices have at last fallen to a level I can afford and I had made my choice at a new small out-of-town electronic discounter. However, when I came to pay not only did they not accept credit cards or allow payment by invoice, they had a daily limit of CHF2,000 on their EC/Post debit card system.

Undaunted, as this must happen with almost every customer, the salesperson gave me directions to the nearest bank adding that it was "only five minutes away". The late afternoon Friday traffic ensured it took twenty-five minutes to reach the bank. After I had paid to park my car, I had to queue up to see a teller as there is a withdrawal limit of CHF1,000 at cash dispensers. When I produced my Zücher Kantonalbank card in the Zuger Kantonalbank, I found the banks were in conspiracy with the TV store as they advised there would be a fee of CHF10 for letting me have access to my own money. At that point I decided that there was still life in the old cathode ray tube and abandoned all ideas of a flat-screen TV.

This tale pales though in comparison to the travel mirror my wife purchased in Zurich. It was one of those round ones with a base with suckers on that you can attach to a mirror and use for shaving or, as in my wife's case, to view the back of her head (don't ask). Though they are available at half the price in supermarkets, my wife decided to support the small independent retailer and bought one at a specialist shop near Zurich's Paradeplatz. However upon mounting the mirror for the first time the extending rod snapped off the plastic base. This despite the proud statement on the box declaring that the contraption was "unbreakable".

This meant another trail into town to get a replacement – or so we thought. The shop refused to replace the item, insisting that it had been misused and must go back to the manufacturer for repair. This despite us explaining that the mirror had been bought specifically for a holiday we were going on in two days' time. Three weeks later and a shade or two browner, we came to collect the mirror which had cost CHF99 and were presented with a further bill of CHF50 for repairs. I insisted point blank that I would not pay anything. After a very unpleasant confrontation, which I hoped other customers heard, the shop reluctantly agreed to let us have the mirror for a CHF10 charge.

Do not expect Swiss retailers to be responsible for faulty goods or get an immediate 'no quibble' replacement for such items. Also do not expect to come across the hard sell in Swiss stores. Neither of these are in the Swiss statute book or Swiss nature.

On the bright side the shops close early on Saturday and remain shut all Sunday. That idea at least, I find wonderful.