Feb 28

Do you know how much your coffee costs?

over the past several months, I have noticed that my Flat Whites have been getting more expensive. A Lot more expensive. In fact, the result of this has been that I actually don’t have coffee out in a cafe very much these days.

faintRather than increase my coffee budget to take into account the price increases, I just end up going out for coffee less – especially now I’m back in the Wop Wops and “going out for a coffee” requires a 30 minute round trip drive as well. I also decided that I really didn’t want to go to cafes that charge $4 for a tulip cup.

So in the end I have been frequenting the Columbus Coffee shop at Mitre 10 Mega in Masterton – especially since I seem to live in Mitre 10 Mega Masterton at the moment! I love the coffee, and I get my Flat White in a decent sized cup. And Ive been in there more than normal for a few weeks because I have to tidy up one of my rentals. Again. And frankly, as I am sick to death of cleaning up after people too lazy to clean up after themselves, large amounts of coffee were requires.

Here’s the thing – I am still getting charged $4.60 for a Flat White – $4 for the coffee and 60c extra for the decaf. 2 years ago that would have cost me $3.50 – $4 at the most.

And I got to wondering – do people actually know what their coffee is costing? Often, our bill is for 2 drinks – one for me, one for hubby, who will sometimes have a cake. And while i always get the eftpos receipt – I don’t often get the till receipt for something like that. So do people actually ever see the cost of their coffee? Especially people who use these “pay and go” swipe cards?

A few months ago I had breakfast at Sierra Cafe in Wellington. When I got home and was putting the receipt through the accounts, I realised I had been charged a whopping $5.80 for my Americano- which is basically the cheapest espresso coffee anyway: $4 for the coffee, 90c for decaf, and 90c for about 10ml of cream !

EekI have never been back to Sierra Cafe.

And to be perfectly honest – I really don’t see why I have to pay extra for Decaf! When I buy it for home its never more expensive – so if cafes are genuinely being charged that much more for their decaf – and I sincerely doubt it – maybe they need  get a different supplier!

SO my home coffee machine gets a fair amount of use these days!

coffee

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Feb 27

Even licenced advisers don’t think much of the IAA.

This was a comment left on an old post from 2011.Because of the length of the comment – and my response, it was easier and clearer to re post the whole thing separately.

DONT BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ!

Dont hate me – I am a Licensed Immigration Adviser. I have 18 years experience, began in law firms, have been studying law at Canterbury University, have a solid reputation with no complaints against me and yet – based on the self directed bias of the Tribunal Chair of the Immigration Adviser Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal (IACDT) – I would be described as one who got into the industry because of the “very low entry threshold.”

The responsibility for the notoriety given to Licensed Advisers lies with three parties.The IAA who licence Advisers.; the IACDT who discipline Advisers and the small proportion of Shonky Practitioners who are allowed to practice because the IAA licensed them! The outgoing Registrar admitted that he didnt really know how to assess our competence so he concentrated on business administration aspects! The IAA has therefore allowed a percentage of incompetents to be licensed. However, we should’nt all be condemned. The IAA licensing regime is a complete “botch job.” Where is the protection of migrants? How about ensuring that it is a requirement for employers of licensed Advisers themselves to be licensed? Cureently the company that employs an Adviser, sets all the fees, controls the funds etc etc is completely free from any action by the IAA. In these cases, innocent Advisers who have no control over those issues are being persecuted by the IAA and IACDT, because they cant go after anyone else! The Adviser loses their licence, job and livelihood and the employer hires someone else!

Wow – you have changed your tune considerably since March 2010! Good on you! However, With all due respect Ms Shadforth, this is what I have been saying ever since you got your licensing system in place, and I have faced bitchy  and snotty comments from you as well as other advisers because of it. So while it is nice that you have finally woken up to the reality of the situation, I find your “blame everyone else” stance to be frankly laughable. The fact that the threshold was laughably low (ie non existent) is not news, and it’s not just the IACDT who have said it. The Notoriety of Immigration advisers is nothing to do with the IAA, the IACDT or a couple of shonky advisers. It is because over many, many years (pre and post licensing) immigrants talk to each other about their experiences, and most experiences with agents are that they are frankly a waste of money and not very good. Licensing didn’t change that very much, it just cut down the number of agents and seems to have given some of you an over inflated sense of grandeur to be honest.

 Innocent Advisers??? You are the ones with the license, and you are the ones wholly responsible for the work you do with it.  You want to be a profession – well – act like one for crying out loud. No employer could or would ever dictate to me what actions I took while practicing as a Pharmacist because it’s my Certificate, and my responsibility (legally and ethically) to act within the law, no matter who I work for. And If I failed in those obligations, then I lose my professional membership and get struck off.  The fact is you are not a profession, and no amount of licensing or course work is going to change that.

(I note after your comments on Mr Bell that he has done the course and says that a 6 months course is a Level 7 NCEA equivalent – ie a Bachelor’s degree level. As someone with an actual Bachelors degrees – I am offended!)

This exact scenario happened in the middle of 2013, when a Christchurch Adviser was found to have charged excessive fees (charged by the EMPLOYER). The IACDT called her “dishonest” and a “liar.” The Tribunal claimed she deceived clients by dishonestly claiming the fees were in line with industry standards and that she did so for her own financial gain.

What the Tribunal didnt say was the the Adviser provided proof that the IAA had endorsed the fees as within industry standards! The Tribunal didnt say that shw was paid a SALARY so there was no financial gain! The Tribunal described the Adviser as having entered the profession under the very low thresholds, because she did not undertake a 6 month online Polytech course which the IACDT hold out to be the Holy Grail. The Tribunal did not ask what her qualifications were – had it done so it would have learned that she holds a BA (hons) in Law and Psychology!

I can’t find a current published list of fees at the IAA – there’s a shock, they seem to have hidden it from potential immigrants, but there was a published list in January 2011 that I blogged about. Looking at the IACDT file Geldenhuys Vs Yap, the fees quoted while staggering and ridiculous do in fact come in at less than the Maximum quoted back then. Which isn’t saying that much to be honest.

And frankly – the fact that someone has a degree in Law and Psychology is not actually relevant to whether or not they should have been given a license. I have a degree in pharmacy – hand me an immigration license please? I assume that would be met with a big fat “sod off”. I don’t for one minute really think that applies in this case, my reading of this situation is that all Ms Yap is really “guilty” of, is working for a company that took advantage of her license and  not fully understanding her responsibilities in taking care of who she worked for. At  the end of the day The Migrant Bureau is only able to operate and charge outrageous fees because it has licensed agents willing to give them their names and licenses. At the end of the day it was 100% Ms Yaps responsibility to be aware of her obligations and she chose to work for a company that clearly has issues with its fees and charging policy.

The Adviser was named, shamed, labelled a liar, who dishonestly exploited clients. This was published repeatedly on news media, blogs and social networks. This Adviser is a married woman with a teenage daughter – who have now all been scarred by the LIES and INCOMPETENCE of the IACDT.

The story as reported in The Press in July 2013 can be seen here. I didn’t blog about it, and actually this is the first I’ve heard of it. The fact that Ms Yap is married and has a teenage daughter is of no relevance whatsoever. Married Mothers actually do break the law sometimes.

IACDT Files here:

I can say this because the Adviser CHRISTINE YAP was found by the District Court to not have been dishonest and to not have been responsible for the issues!!! CHRISTINE YAP is innocent but will forever be damned by the IAA and IACDT incompetence.

Again – I suggest you follow the proper channels and take this up with the IAA –there is absolutely nothing I can do about this, and this is not the channel to use. If the IAA are doing as you claim, and they are refusing your attempts to rectify the issue – then I suggest you contact Lincoln Tan at the NZ Herald who writes on Immigration issues, and I am sure would be happy to help publicise the issues you raise. And preferably do it without SHOUTING at him ;)

However, as regards your assertion that it is all the employers fault – I respectfully disagree.  Ms Yap is responsible for her place of work, and it is up to her (any of you) to ensure that you re comfortable working for an employer that engages in standards that meet your own – including the fee structure (Mr Macleod was being quoted £479 (yes that’s £ – which is currently about $958) an hour for an ad hoc consultancy rate. I mean – really???? My very expensive Senior Associate Lawyer only costs me $350 an hour!!! ).  [Yells at Hubby]: You’re in the wrong job Hunny!

Some of the fees quoted in the files are eyewatering!  $1950 just to sign on as a client??? Are you kidding me??? In what universe do you think that is any way acceptable??? Why on earth would any of you charge that – or work for a company that charged it??? The mind boggles – it really does! (You don’t happen to be in the market for a set of pans do you?)

Here’s how it works: you do work – you charge the client for work. If you want some of the money up front, you ask for it, but for the work you are going to actually do – not for some trumped up “sign on fee” which you are then oh so kindly going to credit as a “complimentary credit” to later work.  The fact that the IAA did or did not sign off on this has stuff all to do with the fact that’s frankly disgusting, and any adviser charging such a fee should be ashamed of themselves.

It’s not always easy – I’ve walked away from my share of Jobs over such issues – because at the end of the day the buck stops with the Licensed person.  Hubby has also had to walk away from some contracts because he is not comfortable with the charge levels, the company, or aspects of the contract and will not put his name, his reputation or his qualifications to it. You don’t get to sit there with a license claiming that you’re better than someone else and then say “nowt to do with me mate” when it all turns to custard. Quite simply – you need to get your head around this and grow up and be the professional you claim to be.

The case against Ms Yap by Mr Macleod, the IACDT states:

The minute observed that it is not possible for a company to hold a licence, and the Code of Conduct makes it clear that it is necessary for a licensed immigration adviser to be identified, and hold written authority from a client (clause 2.1(h) of the Code). The Code does not leave open the possibility of a licensed immigration adviser providing professional services without personally holding a written record of their authority from the client. That was important, as licensed immigration advisers are personally responsible for dealing with client funds, fees, and all professional obligations under the Code of Conduct. They cannot avoid personal responsibility for these matters by pointing to an employer or other party. Accordingly, Ms Yap should have been in a position where she had control of these issues, and ensured that if she was to conduct her practice in association with Oceania, that the company respected and preserved her professional control over all material financial and professional matters in relation to clients.

And no – I actually hadn’t seen that before I wrote what I thought!

Having been shamed in the District Court Judge who turned to counsel for the IAA and said ” You have been charged with defending the indefensible”, the IAA is now trying to save face by appealing to the High Court. Their argument is that it wasn’t fair that the District Court Judge said the Tribunal was “plainly wrong” because he should not have been able to investigate that far!

How much is an innocent person expected to invest in clearing their name? $16K so far only $20K to go.

Do you have links or a transcript to back that up?

The answer is I don’t know – how much are potential emigrants supposed to be scammed by immigration agents who charge thousands for a bit of form filling, or even $1950 just for the privilege of becoming a client? While I do understand that if Ms Yap is actually innocent, then she should fight that all the way,  I hope her reasoning is a bit better than “it’s all my bosses fault” to be honest. It’s a pity that the migrants scammed out of equally serious sums of money by licensed agents who were fined by the IAA and told to make reparations won’t see a cent of it.

I suggest however that if you want to help, a better way of doing so, than coming on here and leaving a comment on post that has nothing to do with what you want to rant about,  would be to set up some sort of Legal Fighting fund to help Ms Yap out. I did exactly that for a fellow migrant when faced with similarly high costs for action bought against him by Sanitarium. However – let me be clear – while I blogged at length on the issue (and received a great deal of vile abuse from some kiwis for doing so)– I did so on my own blog,  and promoted the fund on my own blog. You should do the same. Especially if other agents feel the same way – you need to stand together.

The IAA and the IACDT need to be accountable for the unlawful manner in which they have and are operating. The IAA flip flop over instructions to Advisers. I was told by the IAA Registrar that I HAD to make my fees non refundable!! Protecting migrants my Ar..!

We do at least agree on one thing – the IAA is a waste of space. It’s a pity you only seem to have developed this new understanding now that it has gone after a friend of yours. You were no where to be seen on here when it was Migrants being let down and fobbed off by a  useless IAA who still claim that by using someone with a license they will be able to get their money back. In fact you were highly unpleasant about me and to me when I was saying these same things back in 2010. As you say – protecting Migrants – My Arse. They never have and as I have pointed out many times – they never will.  All the IALA ever did was cut competition in the industry and criminalise migrants. So please forgive me if I do not wear my sympathy hat today.

Professional Advisers have made representations to the IAA, and government for years over these problems. Finally a complete review of the IAA is underway and the previous Registrar is gone. However if they still refuse to listen to those professionals in the industry who want to be RECOGNISED as professionals, there will not be any improvement.

Jay Shadforth
Licensed Immigration Adviser (200800094)

Oh Puleese!Thhbt

The IAA also refused to listen to the migrants it was supposed to be protecting – and turned us into criminals overnight – with not a jot of sympathy or understanding from you, so please cut the crap as they say.  Sorry – but it is up to you Advisers to improve. Why should anyone recognise you as a professionals if you refuse to behave like professionals? Seriously stop SHOUTING! (I know I do it on the blog – but hey – it’s a blog, and I am not sitting here making out that I am a professional when I’m blogging.)  I also would never slink off to write such comments on other people’s websites when I was not prepared to put them on my own. Once again you are being frankly underhand. If you have a problem with the way the IAA, IACDT or other agents behave – say it on your own website. I find it quite offensive that you think you can come on here and use my website to spout off on when you don’t have the guts to do it on your own.

I have also made representations to the government and the IAA.  So frankly if your nose is out of joint for being ignored – get in line. You too poured scorn on me for doing so, although you clearly seem to have forgotten your snotty and condescending attitude now that the shoe is on the other foot.

So no, Ms Shadforth, I certainly don’t hate you! But I have to be honest – I really don’t think very highly of you either.

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Feb 22

That wasn’t what I meant Mr Sparky

Hot on the heels of my comment yesterday about the Mobile Phone Companies:

 Anyway – I do hope my tale of crapness has brought a little amusement to your day. Unless you work at Vodafone, 2 Degrees or Telecom – in which case grow up for crying out loud and stop trying to beat each other at being the crappest bunch of crapsters known to man. Or woman. Cos – ya know – we do actually count!

Well, at least we know Telecom doesn’t read the blog!

Yesterday, it hit the news that Telecom’s latest “improvement” courtesy of it’s new CEO (Presumably trying to justify his job), is that – wait for it …

They are going to rebrand.

To Spark.

Which apparently is the name of the silly squiggle logo they came up with a few years ago.

telecom logoI think it’s more of a SPLAT – but there you go – what do I know? I guess you have to pay $20,000,000 to get someone smart enough to realise it was a Spark not a SPLAT.

Apparently – they want to move away from Landlines – perhaps thats why they want to screw us out of $65? Its not actually for anything – it’s supposed to put us off opening an account with them. Apparently “it’s all about digital services: the “cloud”, “data” (Pronounced Darta of course), apps and the amazing stuff this does..”

As long as you don’t want to pay your bill online or decide for yourself where you want to shop with us. Maybe thats just too boring and not “sparky” enough for the CEO?

I couldn’t finish listening to his waffle, so no idea about the rest of it. I’m sure it was fun and groovy and with it though.

And the IT business will be re-branded from Gen-I (which split off from Telecom ages ago), will now be rebranded Spark Digital Solutions. No comment.

 

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Feb 21

Crap, Crapper and Crapest: Part 3 – Back to Telecom…

Hubby happened to be working near the new flash Telecom store in Wellington, so popped in a spare few seconds and had a chat about this weird “ we need your husbands permission to speak to you” crap. Nope – on a joint business account they are more than happy to treat me like a human being. So we chat and decide on the account we want – which is now a similar price to 2 Degrees, with more free minutes included in the base price. So all good.

Then it goes Tits Up.

First problem is that when Hubby went in to sign up he and went through all the details required, including the name of account (a business name), and having to do it twice because the guy hit the wrong button and lost all the information – it was only then that he was told – opps sorry – that’s a business account – we can’t open that here you have to go to the business hub.

Great – that’s half an hour of work he just missed.

Next was that the Business Hub was over the other side of town, so it was actually another 2 days before he had time to go. When he got there, he was told that they couldn’t open the account because we live in the Wairarapa – not Wellington and its another franchise that has the “right” to deal with us.

I’m sorry – let’s get this straight. YOU will determine where WE have the RIGHT to shop because YOU decide that what we will do and when we will do it????

frownAre you for sodding real????

I guess the “I am seriously piised off ” look on Hubby’s face said it all. Evidently the fact that he works in wellington was enough of a fudge factor for the Franchise to ever so kindly allow us to open an account with a store of our choosing. Which was nice.

Now we already knew that in order for  me to have full access, Telecom need to sight my Drivers License. This is fine, and actually 2 Degrees had also had to do this – although in their case it seems to be been a total waste of time. Only of course I AM in the Wairarapa most of the time, and don’t have time to go to Wellington just at this point.  So at the weekend we popped into Masterton, and went into the Telecom store with my Drivers license, and the name of the person in Wellington who was looking after us.

Guess what – Masterton don’t want to deal with us, because we “belong” to Wellington.

confusedF.F.S.

There was the usual justification about franchises and bollocks like that – and he was “just trying to explain to us… Blah Blah Blah…” Listen mate – let me explain to YOU. I am trying to give Telecom Money and you are all being a bunch of twats making it difficult. I don’t give a bloody stuff about your bloody territory and pissing contests and the fact that for some reason you think that you have the bloody right to insist we only do business with you in a way that is convenient to you and your sodding franchise sodding agreement. I want you to look at my driver’s license – pick up a damn phone (you know what one of those is I take it) and use it to call wellington and tell them you have seen said license and OPEN MY  ******* ACCOUNT.

Mad

It says telecom logoon the door.

It does not say “Telecom but only for people who bought their phone in this shop – if you bought it elsewhere then we are not Telecom and you can piss off and bother someone else… because we won’t get the commission and you know – that matters.”

Good Bloody Grief.

Anyway…

That being done, phone picked up, photocopier used, grummpage at high levels, we leave.

Phones change over on Monday Morning, and low – we have Telecom Phones enabled.

Not only that – but we had a lovely surprise in that we actually found we have a good signal throughout the whole house, whereas on 2 Degrees you have to have your phone in one of 2 places in the house to get a signal. So – ya know – we figured well at least Telecom had something going for it. In the war of which telco is the most useless bag of excrement – we take what we can get.

Not having learned our lesson yet – we are actually so impressed with the fact that we can actually USE our mobiles at home for a change, we decide to look at swapping our home phone line to Telecom – which is currently still with Vodafone.

Why. Do. We. Bother?

Apparently we need to pay a $65 connection fee. WHY??? There’s nowt to do, all the “connections are there, we are changing companies not asking you to run a new wire down the bloody road.

They haven’t responded to that yet – so stuff it – we are actually still with Vodafone.

And then we get to today. When I decide to pay our first bill. I need to set up an online account (which is usual) and can do that using my phone number, and will now get the bills via email. All good. Then I try and find the online Credit Card payment system. And try again. I can’t find one. I can only find a “How to pay your bill” option but no “Pay your bill” option. I find this a bit silly. But ho hum – most websites are crap. Its only while actually reading the “How to Pay your bill” page hoping to find the magic “Pay Here “ button that I find this:

Currently, we can not process payments through our website but it is something we are working on.

We recommend Direct Debit, online, phone or mobile banking because they are convenient, hassle free and do not incur a surcharge.

smash computerOh. Dear. God.

I can pay by walking into the Post office with my bill though. Which is Nice. For the middle ages. Won’t cost me a “convenience fee” AKA the obnoxious Credit Card Surcharge Scam fee, but will require time effort and 15km drive. I can also set Telecom up as a Bill Payee at the bank, and use online baking to pay my bill. Which is no effort – but – colour me stupid – it should really be up to ME how I pay, and as ever – I should not be charged a fee  in order to do you the courtesy of paying you the money you want for a service that so far is as craptacular as all the alternative providers of crap.

So there we have it.

I really don’t know which is the worst of the bunch. I think I am going for they are equally pathetic and have no concept at all of just how utterly shite they all are at providing Mobile phones. Any phones come to that. or internet.

 Anyway – I do hope my tale of crapness has brought a little amusement to your day. Unless you work at Vodafone, 2 Degrees or Telecom – in which case grow up for crying out loud and stop trying to beat each other at being the crappest bunch of crapsters known to man. Or woman. Cos – ya know – we do actually count!

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Feb 20

Crap, Crapper, Crappest Part 2 – The 2 Degrees Years.

So, having had a gutsfull of Vodafail,  about 18 months ago we got offered a deal with 2 Degrees. Now these are the local Minnows of the Telco world – trying to take on the might of Telecom and Vodafone and significantly reduce the rip off charges we have to pay for the privilege. Although it’s worth noting that this came about because of a frankly ridiculous claim via the Waitangi Tribunal that the government of the time could not sell the 3G network as it was Taonga (essential a treasure).

In 1999, the New Zealand Government auctioned off 3G spectrum radio spectrum licence. Rangiaho Everton claimed that the auction breached the Treaty of Waitangi because she believed radio spectrum is taonga and the government has no right to sell it. Everton lodged a claim with the Waitangi Tribunal, which was upheld. It was not until Labour won the 1999 election that Māori were allocated one of the four 2 GHz 3G spectrum licences at a discounted price plus $5 million to develop it

For this reason I never really wanted to deal with the company; while I have a fair amount of patience for the Tribunal process and the righting of historic wrongs, things like this take the piss and make a mockery of the system, as well as causing a great deal of tension and frustration throughout the country. . However, one really good thing they did was stop the higher charges for calling between different accounts. You see Telecom and Vodafone both charged different rates depending on whether you were calling another of their customers, or a customer of their rival, and overall their prices were a helluva lot cheaper, but then they had a big discount in buying the licenses – but at least they passed it on. With 2 degrees, it didn’t matter who anyone’s carrier was, the call price was the same. It makes a huge difference. Of course it’s worth noting that 2 Degrees are also using infrastructure built and maintained by either Vodafone or Telecom, and have a tendency to whinge about having to pay Vodafone / Telecom for the privilege.

Anyway, we could also set up a Business account, with both phones on one bill. This was a significant improvement on our Vodafone account where we had a bill each.  And our first bill with 2 Degrees was about $30 less. So I was a happy bunny.

And that’s when it all started to go horribly wrong.

I actually cannot remember why I had to phone 2 Degrees, but it was probably something to do with paying the bill. Only they couldn’t talk to me. Without Hubby’s permission.

grrrrRed. Rag. Bull.

Now we have had this before.  It happens when the account is in his name, and I am trying to sort something out because – let’s be honest here – he earns money and is working , and I am not – so it’s a waste of his time and our money for him to prat around trying to sort out issues with bills. Which is clearly not something we considered when we set up the accounts. But it’s an easy fix – either we set up the account in my name, or I get added to the account as an authorised person. Which works really well until someone doesn’t read the file and offends me by telling me I’m not authorised when I am, or like ANZ tells me I not the account holder, my Husband is, when it is in fact my account.

Only in this case – it is a JOINT account. MY phone is on the account, its half MY bill and MY details are all on the account. So I do NOT need me husband’s permission to discuss the account. And I made this clear. And told the guy on the phone he was NOT to bother my husband. He went away and came back again and said that this was fine and he could deal with my query.

I did not find out until later that evening that the lying little shit had – behind my back and expressly against my wishes – phoned Hubby to check I was his wife and could access the account.

MadBoth of us were furious.

And as luck would have it – I was then asked by Colmar Brunton to fill in a survey about Mobile Phone companies.

So I did. At length.

blogging3

In this survey, I clearly laid out the issue, which I consider to be highly misogynistic and outdated. And in the section where it asked if I would like to be contacted about my comments, I expressly stated that they should do so, but ONLY if they called MY number, and did not call Hubby first to gain his “permission” because it would not be granted and I refuse to deal with such appalling and insulting behaviour.

So a couple of weeks later, while sitting in a café with my parents, I get a text from Hubby stating that 2 Degrees had called and as agreed he did not give permission. Then, and only then did I get some guy from 2 Degrees calling me about the survey.

I told him that I was already aware he had called my hubby first despite my explicit instruction not to, and that this was clearly unacceptable and stupid. He made some crappy attempt at justifying this on account of blah blah blah – permission, not authorised blah blah blah. Really? Did anyone read my survey comments? Is comprehension of English an issue at 2 Degrees??

Anyway – not willing to deal with this bullshit any longer, I told the guy that I did not give HIM permission to speak to me, and he should bloody well bugger off.

And put the phone down.

We resolved to cancel out contract at the end of the 12 months, and that we would never again call 2 Degrees, or contact them except via email – where I can write the email and sign it as Hubby. Seriously – these companies are idiots.

As it happens, we didn’t actually cancel the contract. Life got in the way, and we were too busy to look at alternatives. That all changed a few weeks ago. We decided that I needed data access on my phone. (While most people are paranoid about various government agencies spying on them, those same people often  have GPS tracking on their phones, and tell anyone who cares to know where they are and what they are doing every 5 seconds. I’d rather not to be honest, so have Data switched off ). Now, I refuse to deal with 2 Degrees, because I am not allowed. So Hubby rang them, and lo – without needing MY permission, was able to make a significant change to MY phone which could result in higher charges on MY bill.

furiousSo now I was pissed.

I raised this issue on 2 Degrees’ Facebook page, and was asked to give them some details. So at least they want to talk to ME now. The upshot of that was that no, I was not authorised on the account, but Hubby could send them an email and authorise me. Apparently this has something to do with – wait for it –SECURITY.

Seriously?

Sod. Off.

It has stuff all to do with security. It’s MY phone. If your company can’t tell from a phone number, birth date, pin number (which Hubby has to ask me for to access the account), security questions and the fact that the bloody account has my bloody sodding NAME on it – then your security system is a pile of sticking horse manure and who ever wrote it should be sacked. (And BTW – for a suitably outrageous fee – Hubby can fix you up with a sensible system ;) But only if you ask my permission first!)

Now, the person I was dealing with tried their best. After being told that this was never gonna happen – like – “Over My Dead Body Sunshine!” never gonna happen  – they offered a “goodwill payment of $39 for my troubles. And authorised me on the account. Only this was too late. I had decided enough as enough. You had one chance – you don’t a second. It is not our policy to deal with companies that do not treat both of us as equals. We are both directors and shareholders of the company, and if it’s good enough for the IRD, the Government and for us, then its damn well good enough for the mobile phone company.

I was asked if someone could phone me to discuss. I said thanks but no, I wish to move on.

So someone rang me.angry no

I tried to be as polite as possible, but did emphasise that this was not OK, that we did not want to be troubled again, that we were leaving the company, and not to ring again.

So they rang Hubby.

Repeatedly.

angry no

angry noangry no

Yep – still not accepting that what I say goes, they tried to go behind my back like a 5 year old after sweeties having being told No by Mummy, tries to see if Daddy is an easier mark.

Are these people for real?

Do they really think Hubby is going to pick up the phone to deal with this crap? Well, he didn’t. However I did send a message back to the 2 Degrees via Facebook telling them to get lost. I was not terribly polite about it. On saying that – I was a whole lot politer than Hubby would have been had they actually managed to get hold of him.

And this is where telecom comes back into the tale.

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Feb 20

Crap, Crapper, Crappest. Part 1 Telecom to Vodafone

I am talking New Zealand Mobile Phone providers. Bloody hell what a craptastic choice we have. Vodafone, Telecom or 2 Degrees. All varying degrees of crapness. At this point I am not sure which of these 3 paragons of crap is actually the Crap one, the Crapper one or indeed the Crappest. It’s a tight contest.

dizzy

So, in a (very long and wandering) nutshell.

We started out on Telecom – basically because Hubby worked for them when we first came here, and he got a (fairly crap) employee discount. We switched away from them when we bought our house and they wanted $800 to let us have a second phone line and a staggering $30,000 (initial estimate – could be anything really – please sign here) to get broadband internet to us. Evidently we were expected to pay for the entire Infrastructure down our road.

We haven’t been a customer since.

We switched to Vodafone (a company that originates in the UK) for our home phone and mobiles and stuck with them for years. They weren’t great, but they weren’t terribly offensive either. Until we moved to Smartphones and internet in town and then we had to deal with their “Customer Service’ department.  We have already blogged some of the more colourful interactions with Vodafone:

 

During all this, our home phone was with Vodafone, and we once again experienced mind boggling incompetence and stupidity when my parents moved into town and wanted to do something as spectacularly complex as taking their phone number with them. Which depending on who we spoke to was either: easy, no problem, technically challenging but possible, like asking to be taken to the moon for a slap up brunch.

 

Needless to say the result was that: we ended up with no phones anywhere for a time, 2 new phone numbers for a while, someone else’s phone connecting to our line and eventually the required result of 2 phone numbers at the correct addresses and a large collection of empty wine bottles.

ms_drunkNow due to the problems with Vodafone over the time we have been customers, and their revolting overcharging scams, we have had several “goodwill payments” from them. Which doesn’t even remotely cover the cost of the time wasted trying to get someone (anyone) to do their damn jobs properly. We have also passed on some of the more serious issues – particularly the TimWe Text scam over to the Commerce Commission who are frequently investigating the company for various bad practices.

But the result of all that was that we did indeed end up eventually ditching Vodafone for mobile and switching to 2 Degrees.

Next: Crap, Crapper, Crapest Part 2 – The 2 Degrees Years.

 

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Feb 02

Eclipse at Stonehenge Aotearoa

It’s not often that I happen to live near concert venues. Really – apart form 4 years in Cardiff for Uni, and my time living in Wellington CBD I have always lived far away from the excitement and bright lights. But last night – our tiny settlement in the wop wops was host to those lights, and lasers, and music.

Eclipse is a local Pink Floyd cover band, and while Ive not particularly been a Pink Floyd fan, I took the view that if anyone was coming our here to play a concert down our road, we needed to go. Ok – I would probably have draw the line at Justin Beiber. But you get the idea…

Now I cant really comment on the musical talent with respect to how good they were as a cover band, but I can say that I really liked them, and that apparently, I need to listen to Pink Floyd more often. What I can say is that Stonehenge Aotearoa makes a fabulous concert venue! You really wouldn’t know that this was the first time a concert had been held there – as far as I could see it all went smoothly and without a hitch. The catering was good – and local – with the Caterton bakery Wild Oats doing the coffee stand, so I was happy, and Gladstone Winery supplying their scrummy wines. And the prices were not increased either – even a stand selling coke was at $2 a can.

Most people brought camping chairs – which is standard here, and for the late afternoon early evening, everyone just sat back, chilled out and listened to the music while the sun went down.

Eclipse Stonehenge 1

Eclipse Stonehenge 2But it was in the second half of the show, when the sun had gone down, that the magic really started. This was always going to be part music, part lights and lasers, and it really didn’t disappoint us.

Eclipse Stonehenge 4

Eclipse Stonehenge 3

Eclipse Stonehenge 5

I managed to get a quick video of part of the light show while lights were pulsing from within the henge – spectacular stuff.

 

 

All in all a brilliant evening, and very well hosted. I really hope that this becomes a regular event and that Stonehenge sees more concerts, because I think they have shown that they can pull it off. It may be a small tourist attraction in a small town in the middle of nowhere – but it doesn’t stop them. They deserve huge credit for a fabulous evening!

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Jan 31

Interest rates to go up soon. Really this time. Honest.

So once again, the reserve bank of New Zealand has left the Official Cash Rate where it is at a low of 2.5%. It started dropping from a high of 8.25% back in July 2008, and has remained at 2.5% since March 2011. 

There have been promises that it will go back up since it started dropping. In fact I appear to have last blogged about this in Dec 2010 when they had briefly tried raising the rate up to 3%. Apparently the rate was going to go up over the next two years.

It didn’t.

We were told last week,, by several economists that the OCR was definitely going up yesterday. Absolutely really this time. Fix now – before its too late! The OCR needs to go back up to 7-8%! FIX. NOW.

It didn’t.

How is it that when economists keep getting the simple stuff so wrong – they still get called back for interviews to get it wrong again? They have been saying the same for years. If your doctor got your diagnoses wrong that many times they would be up on negligence charges! This week the Reserve Bank also said it was likely to start rising from March. Are we supposed to believe them this time?

Anyway – I digress. Today it appears that lots of people put their faith in the economists and there has been a rush to fix mortgages.

The problem with all this is this:

Anticipating the OCR rise, banks have already raised mortgage rates from an average of just under 6 per cent to about 6.4 per cent.

And they have been for months now. Not that their interest rates have had much to do with the OCR since the Global Financial Crisis Started anyway. Hell no. When the OCR was dropping it was all about how the interest rate was actually based on the cost of borrowing foreign money so the mortgage rates couldn’t go down. Now the OCR is (not) going up – then the mortgage rates are all based on the OCR and have to go up. Back in March 2009, when the OCR was still dropping – NZ Banks were putting mortgage rates up!

Its also worth noting that the current governor of the Reserve Bank brought in LVR restrictions in October last year. This means that the banks have to significantly reduce the number of loans they make for lending of over 80% of the purchase price of a house. This was supposed to mean that the housing market would cool down (its only hot in 2 cities – Auckland and Christchurch but what the hell -we should all suffer!), and interest rates wouldn’t have to rise (so soon). Well, that made one helluva difference didn’t it.

But while everyone panicked about the LVR restrictions and hordes of people decided “Stuff this – I can’t buy a house now” – the banks were offering lower Mortgage Rates – you could get 4.95% if you have at least 20% equity in your property. Still a whopping 2.45% higher than the the OCR mind you – but the cheapest its ever been here since I’ve lived here.

Back in the UK – people with significant equity in their property can get as low as 1.49% on their mortgages (Thanks Scott for the link). The Base Rate (OCR) is 0.5% over there.

I gave up a long time ago listening to what the economists say here. I just pick the rate that suits me at the time, and generally plump for the lowest rate whether its fixed, floating or what. But I do not listen to what the Media tell me, and I do not act on the advise of economists who keep getting it wrong. So far I’ve saved thousands.

Here’s a picture that my friend Sophie shared on Facebook today. It sums up how I feel about this quite nicely.

1656008_667049580000501_1689388628_n

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Jan 29

When $150,000 just isn’t enough…

I really do not know what to make of the rampant electioneering so far this year – except to wish they would all just sod off and stop being so silly.  We haven’t even got out of January yet!  Yes – we have an election again. Every 3 years – which I have to say is very rapid, especially given that it looks like most of this year is going to be taken up with outlandish bribes for our votes rather than actually doing any work. If we have a late election like last time – this could be a very LONG year!

But one thing has got me mad. Offended. Pee’d off. Scratching my head wondering what kind of idiot came up with this insanity.

You see, the NZ Labour Party (in opposition) has decided to introduce what is being called a “Baby Bonus”. This is $60 a week for the first year of a Child’s life. On the whole sounds good – except that you will get this bonus even if you household income is up to $150,000.

That’s insane!

More so because this is a group of people that slags off anyone earning over $100,000 at every opportunity. We are the “Rich Pricks”. The $100,000+ bracket is so disgustingly awful, that it is recorded and published every year how many people in the Pubic Services are paid that much, and then a great deal of Tut Tutting takes place about how awful it as.

And yet now, they are worthy of benefits.

As long as they have a baby.

If you cant have a baby – get stuffed. If you already have a baby – get stuffed. If you can have a baby but choose not – get stuffed. If you are too old to have a baby – get stuffed.

You can breed? Here – have $60 a week to (as the leader said) “cover the cost of nappies and food”. Because on a household income of $150,000 you clearly need some help.

It has not escaped the attention of some, that this scheme would also entitle a backbench MP who has a child with no other income source to claim a benefit. As if they don’t get enough perks.

People on low incomes – I mean lower than $150,000, would get the payment expended out to 2 or 3 years, and it won’t be paid if you also get Paid Parental Leave – but would pay out once that leave has finished. And if you do go back to work, you would lose a proportion of the payment. (Why is it that when they come up with those plans, they are always so complicated!)

Sorry to be blunt – but if someone can’t afford to raise a child on an income of $150,000 a year – they don’t need welfare from the state – they need lessons in budgeting.

This really is sickening – that money should be for people who need it.

Worst of all, the week before this brain fart was released, Labour had decided to cut 2 of its previous policies. One was to remove GST of fresh fruit and vegetables. Apparently, only wealthy people buy them, so if you remove the GST you benefit rich people not poor people. (I Agree it was a silly idea but for different reasons). But also, they will not introduce a “Tax Free Allowance” on income, because – wait for it – it benefits rich people as well as poor people.

So now – all you need for NZ Labour to consider you worthy of their largesse – is to breed. You can’t have a Tax Free Allowance – no matter how poor you are. That would be too easy and straightforward and not involve loads of calculations, abatement rates and working out when you should go back to work – or not. You will still be taxed on ever single dollar you earn – even your benefits and your state pension. But have a baby – great – have some money – clearly you are a person worth state help. Even if we still think you are a rick prick.

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Jan 24

The Shaky Isles

This Monday (20th January) turned out to be a good day for Wellington City to have the day off (for Anniversary day). Because just before 4pm there was a bloody big earthquake – centered in Eketuhuna in the Wairarapa. So nearer us than the city. It took a while for the Data to be confirmed, but at 6.2 it would have been devastating if it hadnt been 35km underground.  As it was – it has done some major damage in the Eketahuna – Masterton area, and Palmerston North.

Here – we had a rather bizarre experience.

You see – this was the first time I have been outdoors during a quake. We were spending our bank holiday not at the beach, but in the garden doing some landscaping because the weather was a bit crap that morning. Now during an earthquake when you are indoors you Drop. Cover. Hold. Basically dive for the nearest table.

Outdoors you don’t do that. You drop. You really don’t want to have move too far before doing that – and we were fairly lucky in that we were on the lawn with no immediate hazards (unless you count 2 trees which I guess could have fallen on us). So all we could do was drop onto hands and knees and hope everything in the house wasn’t breaking. Because this was the most severe shake we have ever felt as well.

The really bizarre thing was the feel of it though. Normally – everything around you is shaking, But this time, because my hands were on the grass, I could feel the ground itself moving. And while I couldn’t see it – it felt like the ground was undulating under my hands and knees.

In common with all the quakes Ive been through – there was a noise first. In this case – I heard something in the garage fall over, and then a few seconds later the shaking started. Unfortunately this house makes a lot of noise during the day anyway (mostly the metal roof expanding and contracting) so there’s no point in worrying every time we hear a noise, which means the shaking still comes as a surprise.

Once the shaking settled, its then time to implement “The Plan”. In this case, as the house is still clearly standing, priority 1 is contact family. They beat me to it – but the first thing is to check the family is OK and if anyone needs any help. That taken care of – check with GeoNet to find out where the hell it was and how bad it is.Because if we felt that kind of shake and the quake was up in Auckland, thats REALLY bad news. If its local and we got the worst of it – then it might not be as bad. This one was rated severe, but looks like we were far enough away to not feel the brunt of it.

Quake Jan20

Then its a walk around the house to check things are OK and stable: looking for cracks, check the water tank, make sure stuff hasn’t fallen over and broken. And check in on Facebook to make sure friends are Ok and let them know we are safe. Thankfully we still had power!

There have been aftershocks, but we haven’t felt any, either here or in Wellington when we were there on Tuesday and Wednesday. But despite that plenty of people are spooked and worried.

So look. You want to move to New Zealand? Don’t let the quakes of the past few years put you off. It is pretty scary, and there have been quite a few big ones. But the fact is that no one really knows when a “BIG ONE” will hit, and none of us want to live our lives waiting for it. All we can do is be prepared In Case, have a plan, and do our best to cope in the event of a big quake.

 

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