Idiots in charge of airport security

August 24th, 2006

What a nightmare air travel has become. We have idiots in charge. I refer of course to the alleged plot in the UK, August 2006.

The timing of the announcemnt was political, nothing to do with real security. These people have been known to the appropriate authorities and under surveillance for over a year, so why bring them in now?

George and Tony’s so called war or terror is doing badly, Tony in having troubles at home, the Home Office (UK interior ministry) is a shambles that can’t cope, so what we need is a diversion. Now that the old fox hunting thing has been exhaused what else is there - terrorism, something like that is always good for a diversion, just like attacking anti-social behaviour. No-one is going to complain, and as long as we’re inconveniencing travellers they will not be able to complain because we can tell them it’s for their safety.

Do I sounds synical - it’s not just me, there is strong evidence that this is exactly what happened.

On a recent flight my empty water bottle (clear plastic) was confiscated along with my small dropper bottle of artificial tears, I’ll give a prize to anyone who can come up with a credible reason for that, and a second prize for anyone who can show what danger an either of them could have been to any aircraft.

Passengers are at more risk from contracting diseases from other passengers than water bottles etc.

Our governments and security agencies are totally incompetent, we need to write to them and tell them so, do it today!

The End

Hidden charges

February 2nd, 2006

In Europe you would never get away with making charges that were not explained to customers before the contract was made. That’s not so here.

Take telephones for instance, I signed up for a long-distance package that looked like a very good rate. There was nothing on the contract about any other chages and I specifically asked if there were other costs, I was told no.

When the bills arrived I was charged a monthly ‘network access charge’ plus emergency call access, these charges were more than double the subscription charge.

When challenged the company could not justify the charges and refunded them and gave me another six months credit of the charges if I would accept them after that.

You would NEVER get undisclosed or hidden charges in Europe.

The End

Tax on postage

February 2nd, 2006

Post a letter, parcel etc and you’ll be taxed.

The postage is currently 49 cents for a letter, but you get charged 53 cents for the stamp, international letters are $1.49 which is $1.59 with the tax.

As usual there is no indication of this, it just happens at the checkout.

The End

Tax on learning

February 2nd, 2006

Yes, tax on books, including text books.

No indication in the shops, it just gets added at the checkout. That includes children’s books too.

The End

Get an international driving licence

February 2nd, 2006

You can drive in Canada on your UK licence, but only for 3 months.

To get an Alberta ‘Operator’s Licence’ (driving licence) you have to take (write) the written exam, then the practical exam.

An international licence is good for a year, so you will not have to rush quite so much - but see the post about car insurance.

You need to carry your Alberta licence when driving. It also acts as an id card.

While on that subject, if you don’t want to drive you will still need the id card, it costs $35 which is currently about GB pounds 17. How the UK government can say that their id cards will cost so much is incredible. Sounds like another tax to me.

The End

Get a SIN!

February 2nd, 2006

Social Insurance Number - without it you don’t exist.

As a new immigrant you will have to show your documentation and will get a special number that starts with a 9. That tells everyone that you’re a newcomer.

You may feel like a second-class citizen, well you are! so don’t forget it.

It’s only countries like the UK that seem to welcome immigrants and asylum seekers with open arms.

The End

Register with Alberta Health . . .

February 2nd, 2006

Or the equivalent in whatever province you are living in.

If you don’t register for healthcare then you will not get anything except emergency treatment and will not be able to register with a doctor. You go to the office and complete a form and PAY the contributions. It’s a bit like National Insurance in the UK, but a lot less money. You have to pay even if you are not working, but there is a family membership that covers all of you.

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Banking and credit

February 2nd, 2006

Open a bank account BEFORE you come to Canada.

Make sure you do this from the UK because you will then be known when you arrive. If you don’t do it then it’s not as easy to do and there are far more pressing things that you have to do.

Getting a credit card is difficult. In the UK or wherever you come from you have a credit history, you might not know about it, but as you grew up and had a bank account, credit card etc, all those details were collected together and kept by someone so you had a history that could be referred to.

Come to Canada and you have nothing. I mean nothing. You don’t exist. You have a special Social Security number (starts with a 9) that says you’re not even a permanent resident of Canada, so you could be refused entry or gone with no notice, so who is going to lend you money or give you a credit card?

How you get around this is by being very nice to the bank and giving them a deposit equal to the monthly credit limit that you want on a credit card. You have to give them that money on almost no interest (1.25%) for 2 years at least. Our earnings are above average but that still applies.

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How European are you ?

February 2nd, 2006

Sounds like a silly question, but it’s not.

Culturally the people of the north american continet, that is the US and Canada, are substantially different from Europeans. In each place the people accept certain rights, responsibilies and norms are part of life. On holiday (vacation) these are quaint and interesting, but when you live with them on a daily basis they can take on mammoth proportions.

Here are some examples . . .

Shop prices

Europe - what you see is what you pay - so simple.

US & Canada - the price you see is an indication, that’s because various taxes are not shown and are added at the checkout. This means that when you go to the supermarket you have no idea how much the bill will be because not everything is taxable. Different parts of the country have different tax rates too. However, certain things are shown with tax included, like gas (petrol) and cinema tickets.

Canadians accept this. When they come back from Europe they rave about only having to pay what it says on the shelf/label. Does it never occur to them that they have the power to change it?

Weights and measures

Europe - When you ask for a pint of beer you will get a pint, simple. When you ask for a kilo of apples you get a kilo, simple.

├é┬áCanada - you get what you see. Sound strange? You will be presented with jars of jam that don’t say how much is in them, no weight or volume. Fruit can be sold in open containers with no weight and no scales present. I asked how much was in a cardboard punnet and was greeted by a strange look, the stallholder in the market could not tell me the weight of apples or plums that I was buying.

Same thing with wine and beer, you get a glass with whatever the establishment wants to give you. In one bar I complained that the glass of wine looked half empty and that the two glasses we had bought contained different amounts. I was told that was the amount that was sold in this bar and that the staff filled the glasses to a pencil mark on the back of the bar.

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Mobile phones - Cell phones

February 2nd, 2006

First difference is the name, people will look at you as if you have two heads if you talk about a mobile.

The major difference is the contracts, would you beleive that people are actually signing up for 3 years! YES, 36 months, can you really credit that? Tell them about moving to a different provider and you will be met with disbelief.

Talk about ‘Pay as you go’ - these people are still being ripped off by phone companies that expire the vouchers at the end of the month. They pay up and smile because they don’t know any different.

Virgin launched in Canada recently but doesn’t seem to be making much headway, I expect it’s because the shops who sell the mobiles/cell phones make so much from selling a contract that they don’t want to be bothered with a low-cost provider.

There are a lot of things in Canada that Europeans laugh at but Canadians don’t know what the joke is. Until people wake up to the power of the market and stop buying these rip-offs the situation will not change.

The End