Back in March, we ordered some IKEA bookcases from AKIA, an importer who trades via trademe or thier website. We now have the bookcases, and they are filled with the goodness of a whole lotta books, so time to report!
I have to say – I thought the service was absolutely Top Notch.
Here are the timescales:
- Feb 24th: Requested a quote from AKIA by emailing them a “Shopping List” from the IKEA.com.au website.
- Feb 25th : Quote received
- Feb 25th: Order confirmed, and first $500 of 40% deposit paid (thanks to the annoying $500 limit at ASB)
- Feb 27th: Email from AKIA confirming receipt of the $500 – so they are clearly checking their bank daily to check when payments come though. We had and email conversation where I explained the issue, and paid the remainder that day.
- Feb 28th: Email confirmation that remainder of deposit was received.
- March 2nd: Close off date for orders to be received by AKIA.
- March 23rd: Shopping date at AKIA when they buy the products.
- March 24th: Email confirmation from AKIA that our order has been purchased and is expected to take 3 weeks to arrive.
- April 8th: Email confirmation from AKIA that order will be ready for delivery on the 11th and asking for the balance.
- April 9th: Balance paid
- April 10th: Email confirmation from AKIA that order will be dispatched on the 12th April.
- April 16th: Order delivered by Mainfreight.
Notice how many of these items start with “Email Confirmation”? I was blown away with the communication from the company. Lots of companies claim they will keep in touch about your order, few do it. So I was gobsmacked that they not only did it, but did it so well. The process was so smooth and professional, that I was utterly gobsmacked to be honest – it’s so rare.
And you have the plus side of not having to deal with the Zoo Like process of actually being herded through the store and having to deal with the warehouse – a nightmare in it’s own right.
So I am happy to say that they did indeed live up to their claim that
We, at AKIA, always consider customer service our utmost priority!
Now – what to buy next time!
I have absolutely no idea what your problem was this morning, and I have no idea why on earth you felt it was OK to be so abusive and threatening , but I would like to apologise.
I am sorry that we didn’t realise that we were taking your own personal loading zone space. I am sorry that we were genuinely not aware that you and you alone have paid the princely sum of $55 for the right to park up and unload in that particular spot on the terrace, and that we believed (wrongly as we have now discovered) that anyone had the right to use a loading zone to – um – unload. I am sorry that it never occurred to you that we may in fact have also spent the princely sum of $55 for the right to use your own personal loading zone on The Terrace. and I am very sorry that I spent a few minutes this morning unloading a husband and his laptops for an early morning meeting, and that this blocked your “business”. I am sorry that you feel that ” its people like us” who make it difficult for you to do business.
I am very sorry that you were asked to move out of the way because you were blocking the entrance to a public carpark while trying to mow my husband down, and that the irony of blocking a Public Car Park while throwing a screaming tantrum at someone for blocking YOUR car park is clearly lost on you. I am sorry that you have to share the capital city of NZ with lowlifes like us who just love to make your life difficult as we try to get to your jobs and run our businesses.
Mostly though, I am so sorry that your life is so lacking in fulfillment that you felt the need to be a complete and utter bitch this morning. That getting out of the van and hurling abuse at us wasn’t enough, and that you felt it was an acceptable response to the situation of someone blocking your oh-so-important unloading that you kept revving your engine and driving closer to my husband as he stood at the boot of our car. What the hell were you thinking? Did you think? Do you really think that threatening to run over someone and break their legs is a suitable and proportional response to the crime of trying to unload in an unloading bay?
I get that we weren’t supposed to be there. We genuinely didn’t know that. But seriously woman – get a bloody grip. IT”S NOT OK to verbally abuse and threaten people, especially when you are behind the wheel of a truck. We may have been guilty of a parking infringement – you were guilty of threatening to run my husband over. You lost the moral high ground way back lovey.
And FIY – it is not “people like us” who make business difficult (we are after all presumably the people who are supposed to buy the products you distribute?) – it is people like you who think it is OK to be obnoxious and violent. If that is anything like your normal behavior, and I sincerely hope it isn’t, then if you find your business difficult – I humbly suggest you are the problem, not us. You showed yourself to be a truly despicable excuse for a human being this morning, and your abuse sure as hell didn’t make OUR business any easier. Do you really think it’s easy to have to deal with a violent tempered bitch-fest first thing in the morning and then present a business meeting? Or in my case have to try and drive round the city to park up after being somewhat shaken by the unprovoked attack on us?
But you know what – because we actually know how to conduct ourselves professionally, we did it. You might want to learn something of how to conduct yourself when representing your business. And yes – although your van is Logo’d as NatureZone, it is indeed possible to find that you actually work for (or own?) a company called Vzone Distribution based in Paraparaumu.
I humbly suggest you seek some counseling, or anger management classes. Your behavior was so out of proportion and over the top that it was truly frightening to behold.
Should you ever come across this post and have the decency to be ashamed of your behavior, please know that we will accept an apology,and if one is given, we will delete this post. Until then you join the list of truly appalling businesses we have had the misfortune to come across.
Please note: this Van, while appearing to be for a company called NatureZone it has not belonged to them for years. The van is registered to VZone Distribution Ltd, and has nothing to do with a current company operating in Auckland called NatureZone Healthcare.
Filed under: Banks, Economics, General Budgeting, Interest Rates, Credit Cards & Mortgages in NZ, Property & General Investing, Retirement, Pensions and Kiwisaver
So what are the alternatives?
Anyone wanting g to purchase Mighty River Power shares was promised $2000 worth, with a minimum buy of $1000. Ok so for 2 of us we have $4000 saved up with which to invest. Where do we put it if buying SOEs is BAD? Well, the cynical “I’m sick of this ****” me, decided in a recent Facebook update that we were going to invest it in having a jolly good time, and spend the bloody lot, and expect the Government to pick up the tab when we have retire with stuff all “greedy assets”. This is after all exactly the same people who hate property y investors for investing in “unproductive” assets and bang on incessantly that we should be investing in productive things -like NZ companies. Rightyho.
When we do you threaten to nationalise and screw our investment up. It’s worth noting that the only way you can actually invest “in a company” is to buy shares at the time of the float. After that the money you pay for shares goes in the pocket of the person who sold them, and the brokerage company. The only benefit that the company you are “investing in” gets is if enough people buy at a high price, it causes their share price to rise, and the value of the company to increase. But you haven’t actually invested any money in the company itself. Whereas if you buy in a float – the money goes into the coffers of the company (or in this case, the Government), with of course some of it going the the brokers, and you set the “Value” of the company.
Anyhow, we stared well with the spend the bloody lot strategy – investing in some nice wine and a meal out. You know – maybe they have a point – much nicer than boring budgeting and saving for retirement. I could get used to this!
However, I’m sorry , but I just can’t be that stupid and despite how difficult these idiots want to make it – I really don’t want to have to exist on state hand-outs when we retire – I want a nice clutch of assets that will fund more than a “Dependent on the state for everything” subsistence retirement.
So here’s what we really did.
Invested in our own personal assets and paid the $4000 off our mortgage.
$4000 off our latest mortgage saves us $214 a year in interest. Now. Compared to a “promised” $300 year saving that they claim I’m going to get, whenever – it’s not bad. And if you have credit card debt at around 19% then the savings are even better.
Every $2000 paid of a credit card at 19% interest saves $380 every year. And this is without accounting for compounding of interest.
So, we have gone from wanting to put our money into a kiwi company, money that would help pay off some of the countries debts, to handing it all over to an Australian owned bank, and increasing the equity in our own private property. Which will not have Capital Gains Tax applied to it – something the same people want to bring in to smack us evil property investors upside the head with for being too greedy and owning excessive assets. They won’t add CGT to your personal house, because that’s not fair (!)– so our best chance is to end up with a squillion dollar personal home, stop investing in rentals and subsiding tenants, and get REAL selfish and then downsize when we want to retire.
I’m not sure that was the result they were after.
Filed under: Avalon's Money Thread, Economics, Property & General Investing, Retirement, Pensions and Kiwisaver
Although I have been a wee bit quiet of late, things have been all change here. Not just for us but in New Zealand as a whole. A major change is that the first of several state owned enterprises (SOE) has gone on the market for partial, privatisation. 51% is being kept government owned and 49 is being sold to the public, mostly new Zealanders. There has been some ferocious opposition to this, but interestingly in a recent poll it transpired that about 25% of people opposed enough to the sale to sign a petition asking for a referendum, were themselves going to buy shares.
We were kinda interested, not having an ideological opposition to the sale of so called state assets, mostly Power Companies. Apparently they belong to “us”, and once sold to the greedy foreigners, who can’t actually buy them, prices will go up. The fact that “we” already own them somehow does not explain why my power prices have risen steadily every year anyway – I think I am supposed to ignore this.
So hey -we figured let’s invest some of our money in a Kiwi company. Let’s get some dividends, which at least will help offset our rampant electricity bills, and actually own a slice of a Kiwi Company. Now the first company to be sold, is Mighty River Power. We decided against this one as we had some serious concerns about the company, and the behaviour of its directors over the past few months. But we figured we would wait for further companies to come up for sale, particularly Meridian, which invests heavily in alternative energy.
And then came the bombshell: the Labour and Green parties, having failed several times to legitimately halt the asset sale program, finally found a way to get their own way.
They are going to re-nationalise the power industry if they win the next election.
They will set ups a whole new company, who will buy power for me and sell it to me. I will have no choice in electricity supplier, and I will have to pay what the government deems is a good price, plus pay for the supposed 5000 jobs it’s apparently going to take to buy this electricity for me.
What could possibly go wrong?
And I was only saying to Hubby the day before that I really wished the opposition Labour party would come up with an actually policy, rather than just reacting to everything the government says with a stock “Grrr – National Government Bad” whinge. This was not exactly what I had in mind.
Of course the first thing that happened was a sharp decrease in the share price of the two private electricity companies in New Zealand
About 700mil was wiped of the value of those companies overnight. Which tells you something about how the share market operates. And it’s worth remembering, that many Kiwisaver funds will be carrying shares in these companies. KIWISAVER, an investment product created by the previous Labour government to improve savings and allow and encourage more kiwis to provide for their own retirement. So beloved of them that they want to make it compulsory for every employee to join the scheme. But then they sabotage the sale of assets because investing is bad, and creating wealth is bad, getting ahead financially is BAD. Being well off is REALLY BAD. Not being dependent on the state is APPALLINGLY BAD.
Seriously –I’m getting sick of this attitude. Especially from people who are angling to make investments like kiwisaver compulsory. Talk about mixed messages. Unless your kiwisaver fund is a default cash fund (in which case you need to get some advice immediately because you are probably losing money) you will be invest Investing in the share market.
Even more depressing about all this was the lack of any really leadership from the Government other than to proclaim “Labour/ Greens – Financial Idiots”. I happen to agree to be honest – they seem to have the financial nouse of a dead slug- but seriously – you can’t come up with a better answer? It’s not exactly inspiring is it?
Filed under: Avalon's Money Thread, Banks, Interest Rates, Credit Cards & Mortgages in NZ, Property & General Investing
Not many people talk about this. In fact, it can take a while to figure out what they are up to, and that its costing you money.
Let me explain…
You take out a new mortgage. From the day it is “Drawn Down”, a fancy term for “whoa – you owe us a lot of money now”, you start being charged interest.
It’s usually a month, sometimes longer depending on the date of draw down, before you make your first payment, and until that date, you are being charged interest on the full amount of the mortgage.
Then comes your first payment. Assuming you have a normal repayment mortgage, most of that first payment will be interest, and a ridiculously small amount will be “Principle” – which actually pays off some of the debt.
So the next month, you pay interest on marginally less debt than the month before. Which is good. Because it means the next payment, will be a tiny bit less interest, and a tiny bit more principle.
By the end of the mortgage, your payments are mostly principle and a bit of interest.
But that doesn’t happen here in New Zealand (No idea where else does this – but It wasn’t something I came across on my UK mortgages).
Here, that first months payment is only the interest bit.
No principle is paid automatically, so you end up paying interest on the full amount of the loan for another month, with no reduction in interest the second month for having paid a smidgen off the debt.
So the bank gets to charge you many years of interest on that small amount you didn’t pay off the first month.
Imagine that across every mortgage in the country – it’s a whole lotta extra cash.
More so on our new mortgage, as we have set it as a 10 year repayment, so the first months principle component was about $1500. The interest payable on that over 10 years is over $800.
So how do you beat them at their own game?
Its actually not difficult – but you need to have a Variable mortgage, not a Fixed Rate. On a variable mortgage you can make extra payments whenever you want, so on the day they take the interest, you need to make an extra payment of the principle amount.
If you want to be really mean, and have the ability, you can even make the payment earlier than your standard payment date. We had a bit of savings kept by, so we actually paid one lot of Principle payment within the first week after the draw-down, and then a second payment on the day the original payment was actually due. It’s taken me a long time to really get my head around this – but the more I think about – the more I think fixing a mortgage rate from day one is a bad idea, and it’s best to get the first payment out the way, and force the bank to take a principle payment, and then fix the rate if you choose.
Our new mortgage is staying on floating, as the rates to fix aren’t that good, and I want to pay this sucker off really fast. So I want to be able to dump any spare money in whenever I like, and not be limited by the amounts set by the bank.
So having missed out on an Eco Tour of the Spit itself – we did press on to go as far as we could. Which it turns out is the Farewell Spit Café. Where we had a most excellent late lunch, of Nachos, modified for me to take out the cornchips – so basically a big bowl of chilli. Which was yummy. And filling. And washed down with another really good flat white. They know how to make coffee up here!
The café also hosts the information centre, and so we asked for some details about where exactly we can get to on the spit – and it turns out you can actually walk quite a way up the beach, over the top of the dunes, and back down the other side. And depending on tides, you could get to some caves and whatnots.
We decided not to do that, (I was being lazy) and instead headed down to Wharakiri Beach. So back down the hill from the café, over a bridge, turn right, and drive down a mere 6km of the ubiquitous kiwi “unsealed road”. Actually a very decent one it turns out.
Park up at the end of that and take one of three walks over to the beach, which basically means a toss-up between time taken and steepness of the walk. We did the 20 minutes over the hill.
And this is what you get to.
And THAT is what warrants the 100% Pure New Zealand tag (that’s a seal by the way – loads of them in the water – just sit down and watch them play). Apparently this is also the Most Photographed Beach In New Zealand. I can see why.
After walking back over the hill, we had a bit of a sitdown and a cold drink at The Archway Café. Of which I would have a lovely photo, but I forgot to bring the cable for my camera, and it’s sitting on the camera’s memory. Ill add it tomorrow if I can. As it’s just a caravan in a clearing – you aren’t going to get cooked food. But you probably just want a cold can of something fizzy anyway at this point. It also helps if you like Bob Marley. It’s a really charming stop and I highly recommend it.
And then it was a trip back down to the Kina Peninsula where we were staying for our last night in what I really think is one of the most beautiful areas you will ever see.
I think its fair to say we really needed this break. After years of dealing with simply the daily grind, and a rather tough several years, it has been a joy to be able to stop and appreciate some of the really impressive stuff that NZ has to offer.
So today we took a trip up to Farewell Spit – a long sandbank sticking out the top of the south Island., In Fact – it’s the beak of a Kiwi. Look at the map – if you have never noticed (and we hadn’t until we saw the Wharariki Camp advertising itself as the Eye of the Kiwi) – you are about to have your mind blown.
Now to get up to this part of NZ – you need to drive over the Takaka Hill. And if you think the Rimutakas are a pain – you probably aren’t going to enjoy it that much. But I really do think it’s a Must-Do item. It will take about 40 minutes – and you have a number of good stopping points to take a break at.
View Larger Map
Hawkes View point – has a car park and then a 5 minute walk to the point – so you look back down over Motueka and the Bay over to Nelson. And Ben Nevis. Strange but true. (The red and white squares are bird netting over fruity fields.)
And this is where you see a rather stunning oddity – the car park and track is made of shimmering quartz. Its actually the local granite – but if you want to picture it – think of white sparkly quartz rocks. As a car park. It’s beautiful. I really want a drive like that!
Further up – basically at the summit, is the Ngaurau Caves. These are limestone caves, and there are guided tours around them. We really didn’t have time to enjoy, but did stop for a coffee. A really good coffee as it happens. The café is a bit basic, but I really recommend a stop here. I found the owners to be lovely and friendly – really helpful with some information about time and distances, and I would love to have gone in the caves if time had permitted, And this was the first point of the day when I realised we were going to have to come back. Oh the hardship! They also have a whole wall made out of the quartz like granite.
Onwards over the hill, there’s another quick View Point, and then down the other side to Takaka Town. Which is a real gem. I mean I could really fall in love with this town. It’s kinda like a Kiwi Tintagel or Glastonbury; home to some eclectic and offwall shops and vegetarian cafes. We spent a small fortune in Mariposa, and could have spent a whole lot more had we not been keen to get on. It’s a pretty town, with friendly people in it, all chatty without being in-your-face, and the whole place had a really “laid back” feel to it. I mean really.
But we are still miles away from Farewell Spit – so onwards once more – this time heading for Collingswood. Basically because in order to get onto most of Farewell Spit – you actually need to be on a tour organised by a local company. And this is the second point at which we realised we had to come back again. Farewell Spit Eco Tours run 2 tours every day – both leaving at about 7;30 in the morning. You miss that – you aint going till tomorrow. And tomorrow was the day we get back on the ferry.
So be aware – you need to be considerably more organised than we were if you want to get to the real end of the spout. Our trip did not include any intension of getting up silly o’clock, so we were never going to make it.
Sorry for the delays in posting – decorating got somewhat in the way. Part 2 should be tomorrow. Unless there’s more walls to paint.
May 5th 2013 was census day in New Zealand. It was supposed to take place a few years ago, but was cancelled after the Christchurch Earthquake. Someone somehwhere had an attack of common sense and realised that taken a census when so many people were in a state of shock (and didn’t know whether they were coming or going – literally) was pointless.
Now that the population has settled somewhat (though many people in Christchurch are still in limbo), they could retry the census.
So a few weeks before the 5th March we had a young man (lovely chap) come round to the apartment to deliver our forms. One for the Apartment, and one each for myself and hubby. We duly filled them in (early) and posted them back in the freepost envelope provided.
And forgot about it.
A few days after the 5th, the collector (Same lovely chap) came back to ask for the filled in forms. I let him know that I had posted them, and forgot about it again. A few days later he came back and asked for the forms. I was a bit taken aback, and actually asked him if he remembered that he had already been around. I got that vague noise from him that you get when someone really doesn’t know what to say and can’t come up with a good answer because what you just said doesn’t fit the list of expected responses. Still a lovely chap mind – and I’m not offended – just a bit bemused. Anyway – I reiterated that I had already posted them He asked me when – I said I had no idea. He asked me where, I said somewhere down on Lambton Quay. Because you know – I really didn’t think I had to take notes when I posted them back.
And then I forgot about it again.
Until after a holiday and a week of decorating, I checked out post box to find a standard (and fairly snotty) letter from Statistics NZ telling me to fill in these forms URGENTLY.
Also informing me that under the Statistics Act 1975, I must fill in one of these forms.
Yes, I know. I did.
I phoned the district supervisor on the given number, I was not happy about it. I left a message,(a bit peevish I’m afraid – I really don’t like been accused of not telling the truth, or being lectured), but after 24 hours, I haven’t heard back. Not that urgent then! The thing is that if you don’t fill in one of these forms – you are liable for a $500 fine, so if Stats NZ refuse to believe me (as they seem intent on doing) I’m gonna get fined because NZ Post or Stats NZ cant take care of census forms. And that’s without the fact that they have lost personal information about me and hubby – where the hell has that ended up? Its not as if there aren’t a stupid number of “Privacy Breaches” from government departments in NZ at the moment. But why is the continuing assumption from Stats NZ that I have not filled in the forms, and that I am clearly lying when I tell them that I have have?
So I am waiting for a call from the District Supervisor to hopefully arrange to get some new forms to me, but I do hope he gets on with it – I’m moving next week, so wont be around to pick them up.
Oh – and if anyone happens to get sent my (already filled in) census forms – please do let me know.
This is some of unspoilt New Zealand. The Abel Tasman national park is the smallest of the National Parks, and is bordered by a string of startlingly gold sandy beaches. I mean really yellow. And you can only access most of them by boat – so you book trips on water taxis. For the active minded – you can then walk between the beached through native bush, or Kayak your way around, organising Taxi pickups to suit you. You can even stay over night at various points if you want to walk or kayak the whole thing.
For the lazy, or those inclined to a lie-in on holiday and whose idea of relaxing does not involve hiking or kayaking (that would be me), you can simply get dropped off and picked up where you fancy.
Now it ain’t cheap. At about $45 each, each way for our one stop its a hefty fee if you just want to visit a single beach (or if like us, you were too busy having said lie in and a a lazy breakfast and only have time to get to one beach). But it is SO worth the money I think, and there are plenty of options which probably make more economic sense. But to be brutally honest – money saving wasn’t the point of this trip in the slightest, so we really didn’t care. Besides, I love boat trips (as long as its on a powered boat and someone else is driving!), so I was in my element just sitting back and enjoying the ride.
We went with Abel Tasman Aqua Taxis. They run loads of trips and kayaking / walking / taxi packages, so it really is up to you what you prefer.Either way, you get a nice jaunt round the different bays, and a pretty humorous commentary along with it. Apparently, while I’m basically a Kiwi as far as the “Where do you all come from” question, I am clearly not yet a REAL kiwi because a/ I have a camera, b/ I’m wearing a Hobbit baseball cap, and c/ I am actually using the camera to take photos:
Kaiteriteri beach – our starting point and the southern most access point for the water taxi. The camera really doesn’t do the yellowness of that sand justice. Btw – you can get a decent coffee at the cafe there and just sit on the beach till the taxi arrives. You will get wet – the boats just pull up at the beach and you wade in. It’s rather brilliant actually.
Kayaks at Bark Bay
Seals at Tonga Island
This was our stop off point. A 5 minute walk from this stunning view – is the Awaroa Lodge – which happened to be a resort hotel with a public bar and cafe. So it turns out that for the lazy / Lie-in people (that would be me) you can grab a water taxi at midday, get dropped off at 1:30, grab a lovely lunch and a cold drink, then wander back to the beach to chill out until the taxi comes back at 3:30. It’s a hard life – but someone has to do it.
At the WOW (World of Wearable Art) Museum and Classic Car Collection – Nelson. Because it’s raining.
Job Done. 146.6MPH Record, 156.0MPH top speed.
In a MINI! Woo Hoo!
More information on Project Sixty Four on their facebook page. Never let being in a small country (or a small car) get in your way!
Thinking Fondly of my own first car – a 1972 Mini Clubman Estate. Called Widget.