Parcel deliveries

We read and hear a lot about companies that sell on-line, such as Amazon.  Existing retailers with their “bricks and mortar” stores are said to be worried by these developments, as perhaps they might well be.

Just the same, in the final analysis, it’s about getting the stuff to the consumer.   And that means that the delivery has to be  right.   A recent incident made me wonder about the mechanics of this.  Australia Post recently delivered a package to us, because it had our address on it.  However, the person to whom it was addressed lived down the street, and she had obviously provided an incorrect delivery address.

Being neighbourly, I took it down to her place – to be met by a locked gate and an intercom.  Fortunately someone was at home and seemingly a little reluctantly came to the gate and took the package.

 

But what if no-one had been at home?   Would I have thrown the package over the gate?   I guess a delivery guy would have left a note, but that wasn’t really an option for me, and I wonder about the convenience of deliveries from an on-line seller if you have to go to a depot somewhere to pick the item up.   As for me, I don’t know what I would have done as throwing it over the gate could be seen as “unneighbourly” .

I’m not really sure why people really need to live behind a locked gate.   Security around here isn’t a big issue these days, especially with a locked security door at the front of the house.      Yes, we do get the occasional charity collector at the door, but they don’t trouble me.  I guess the issue is one of perception more than reality.

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Renovating the bank

The local branch of ANZ bank is going to be renovated.    I received an email about this, presumably because I use the ATM there a lot, although technically the account I have with ANZ is at another branch.    There are alternative branches to this one – but all are some suburbs away.  Yet it’s going to be totally closed for two months!  Even the ATMs won’t be available.  There’s another ANZ ATM in the nearby shopping centre, but it doesn’t accept deposits (and the centre is closed late at night).  So although obtaining cash won’t be a big deal, especially with the abolition of “foreign” ATM fees,   any other dealings with ANZ just won’t be possible.

The people most affected are obviously businesses who rely on the branch to deposit their takings and obtain change.  Perhaps ANZ has made special arrangements for them  such as an ability to use one of the other nearby banks?

Otherwise, it seems an arbitrary decision to close a branch for two months.

Now gutted!

Recall (2)

The appointed day arrived, and I headed off to the dealer for the replacement airbag to be fitted in line with the recall.   I’m not sure how long it would have taken to do the actual work…a few minutes maybe?    And it’s true that I arrived a  little earlier than the appointed time, but the elapsed time before I was told the work had been done was still 90 minutes.

Yes, I was supplied with a cappuccino and a reasonably comfortable place to sit (overlooking the shiny cars in the  showroom….funny that), but it does seem to me that anything to do with the servicing of cars always takes longer than what I would have thought was required.

Hopefully we’ll never have to put the replacement airbag to the test, but at least if worst comes to worst, it ought to operate safely.

An on-line booking

We’re planning to have a few days interstate later this year, so after comparing airfares and the like, I went to the Tigerair site to make an airfare booking.   The site was a little unresponsive once or twice during the process but at the last step, it seemed not to complete the booking.   So, I did it all over again!!   Then it dawned on me – I’d duplicated the booking.

Oh no, in hindsight it was all my fault.   True, the site hadn’t confirmed the booking quite in the manner I had been anticipating, but nevertheless, had I looked at what it more closely, it would have been clear that the booking had been made.

What to do?   With not a lot of confidence, I called the phone number listed on the website.   After listening to a recorded speel dealing with all manner of issues, I got through to an operator (obviously off-shore) after just a few minutes (more quickly than I was anticipating!).

And although it was fairly tedious giving every detail of both bookings, I was told that, yes, I did have a “duplicate booking”.   They’d been made 9 minutes apart, and, to my great relief, because they’d been made directly on the Tigerair website, Tiger would cancel the 2nd one and refund the money!    It might take between 2 to 4 weeks for the money to turn up, but they’d do it!  (see Update below).

A great sigh of relief on my part.   The world of on-line bookings isn’t quite as fraught as I thought it might be.  I wonder if things like this are not unusual, so perhaps it’s good customer relations to allow a little flexibility in such situations.

UPDATE:   The refund was credited to my account by close of business on the next business day.   Much better than I dared to hope!

Buying property

There was yet another “successful” auction not far from us recently.  A small place sold for $2 million, an amount that would have been undreamed of only a year or so ago.    Sure, the property had a number of nice characteristics, but still ….

But leaving this aside,  curiosity led me to check the stamp duty that the purchaser will have to pay on this purchase, over and above the purchase price.  It’s $110,000!   Then there are conveyancing expenses and some other fees.  It certainly means that buying a property is not a cheap exercise.

ATM charges

So, CBA is dropping the $2 charge by its ATMs when you have an account at another bank but withdraw from a CBA ATM?   Well, yes, but read the fine print:  it doesn’t apply to international cards, nor does it apply to BankWest ATMs (BankWest is owned by CBA).   And BankWest ATMs are regularly found in 7-11 stores.

And then it only took a few hours for the other banks to announce that they would drop their own fees, although NAB seems still to be working through the issue in relation to the RediATMs, with which it is associated but are owned by Cuscal.   On that point, the tone of CBA’s announcement certainly suggests that if your account is with one of the 2nd tier banks or credit unions in the Cuscal network, you’ll still get fee-free withdrawals at CBA ATMs.

I’m not sure that this is a big issue for me.   I don’t expect to be able to buy KFC at a McDonalds, so why should I expect to get money held in a NAB account from a CBA ATM?  However, press reports suggest that consumers don’t like these charges, and CBA isn’t exactly held in high esteem right now, so a gesture like this could help.  And $2 always seemed excessive to me.

 

Just the same, there are times when I might now take advantage of the ability to use a CBA ATM.

 

Doing the MyTax tax return

I have become accustomed to the quirks of the “MyTax” tax return website (you get to it via MyGov).   As I’ve said before, it takes a bit of getting used to.  One way of looking at it is that the powers that be have tried to “dumb down” the tax return process so much that it’s actually harder to use than the older electronic eTax site.  Still, in this day and age, perhaps even tax returns have to be able to be handled by an iPhone?

Having said this, my impression is that in some ways, there have been some marginal improvements to the format this year.  For example, there’s now an option to review the form before pressing the “Lodge” button.   However, one thing that did annoy me this year is that some of the pre-filled information arrived very late.    I had been working on and off on my return for a number of weeks, yet in mid-September, another dividend was “pre-filled”.

True, this isn’t the Tax Office’s responsibility, as it can only handle information supplied to it when it arrives.   And the site certainly draws your attention to the fact that new pre-fill information is available, and this year, identifies the particular item as new (I don’t think this occurred last year).