Why Complain? Why NOT Complain?

More than once I have touched on the subject of whether it is better to suffer in silence or to complain about bad service or when you feel you have been treated badly. This past weekend reinforced my belief that the only people who suffer in silence are martyrs-in-waiting, but then again Martyrs typically end up being burned at the stake (OK that was Joan of Arc, but you see my point).

We were staying at a hotel in Toronto, because my daughter was playing in a basketball tournament. The first night there, we learned that the room we were given had a big noise problem (it faced into the atrium area of the hotel, and the sliding glass door did not close properly). My wife (not a shrinking violet) called and complained, thus we ended up with a new room (the next day) and free breakfast. Was this suitable compensation for my son not sleeping enough? Not really, but it was better than nothing.

We then had another incident on the next night with a drunken woman kicking a door on our floor (luckily not our door) at 2:30 AM, I complained to the manager, and from that I seem to have received a discount on our rooms for the weekend.

I would have thought this was the least complaining most people would do, but I have had more than one person comment to me that they would have never complained about these incidents, and all I can think is, really? You would sit there and suffer in silence in a noisy room or when a drunken woman is keeping you awake?

If you complain the worst answer you can get is, “I am sorry, we can’t do anything for you“, rarely will the person you are complaining to threaten your life (note I say rarely, and once that did happen to me), so why not say something?

Remember I have said before with Free Banking if you do not complain or at least question things, you are going to have to live with your situation (and I question whether you are allowed to complain about it either). Am I out of line with this point of view?


Cheque Writing to the Extreme

Really, for 4 Cents?

After economic data yesterday, I figured I’d get back to my normal writing about Financial Things that really annoy the living crap out of me, and sure enough today another simple example appeared on my door step.

As part of my job, I occasionally use a Smart Phone that my employer will supply, however, I must pay for any time I use the phone for personal reasons, which seems to be a good system (in my opinion).

Today I received a bill for 4 cents, because last month I used a loaned phone for a week or two. To send me this bill for 4 cents someone spent at least 10 minutes going over the bill from our service provider to check over whether I had used my phone for personal reasons, and whether it looked personal. When I worked in the private sector we used to estimate an employees time was about $100 an hour, after you counted salary, accommodations, benefits, etc., so that means about $16 was spent to send me this bill for 4 cents.

No, that is not what I am annoyed about (yes  it is annoying, but it is noise compared to the real rant), it is the fact that I cannot simply ignore this 4 cent bill, because I will get in trouble if I do that, so it must be paid. I am not allowed to tape 4 pennies onto my bill and return it to my accounting department (a co-worker tried that and had his bill returned with a note stressing that the payment must be by cheque).

I have ranted about the cost of me buying cheques before, and this is another cheque which I must write (the cheque alone seems to cost 50 cents to me directly (12 times the cost of the bill)).

When I write this cheque, it will go to our accounting department and someone will then have to spend at least 1/2 an hour to process the cheque, so that will cost another $50.

So the entire 4 cent bill will cost over $75 to process.

This one just has me scratching my head and wondering about when people create “processes” do they actually follow up to see how much their process costs in comparison to the money you collect?


It’s Broken

Another interesting video from Ted.com by Seth Godin (their archives).

This talk really kind of resonates with me these days, especially with my continuing voyage with TD and their RESP program. I am confident that no one in TD really thinks their system is broken or even flawed, but to me, the system is broken (and that is all that matters in my mind).

The argument that my opinion doesn’t matter, because the system isn’t broken, is perfectly valid for the company to say, but, my guess is I am not the only person that thinks this is the case, so we shall see what might change.

Why are so many things broken? In a hilarious talk from the 2006 Gel conference, Seth Godin gives a tour of things poorly designed, the 7 reasons why they are that way, and how to fix them.


Pay Yourself First: Did I say FIRST?


You should pay yourself first. How can I pay myself first?

Pay Yourself : The Bank Plan

The word first is the important part of the pay yourself first phrase. More than one person has said, If the money hits my bank account it is lost and I spend it, hence the pay yourself first is the way to go here.

First step is open at least two if not more bank accounts (preferably with an institution that does not charge much if any service fees, but that is another story).

Let’s call these accounts: Working Account and Savings First, just to be clear.

You need to now figure out when your pay cheque arrives in your bank account (you’d be surprised how many people I know, that don’t know what day payday is). Let’s assume for this exercise that we get paid bi-weekly on a Tuesday, just to be obtuse (nobody I know gets paid on a Tuesday). You also need to know which bank account your pay cheque gets deposited, we’ll assume the Working Account for this exercise.

Log into your banks on line banking or call your bank’s phone line banking service. If you don’t know how to do either of these, please go find out how this works, it is much easier to do it this way.

What you will do now is set up an bi-weekly money transfer, that happens on Tuesday to moves a set amount of money from your Working account to your Savings First account, it is just that simple.

Simple Plan of Attack

How do you do that? A few ways could be:

  • Set up a transfer from Working to Savings First, find the Recurring button, or ask the operator (if you are using the phone) to make this transfer a recurring transfer. Set the date up so that it is every second Tuesday, that lines up with your pay day
  • Do the same thing except set up the transfer between accounts as a bill payment (which I know you can do with TD, but not sure about other banks).
  • If your employer allows this, simply have the amount you want deposited into your Savings First account and the rest of your money in your Working account (this is even easier). I like this way, since you don’t even need to use the same bank for your Savings First account (hence easier to hide from yourself).
  • You can do this with virtual accounts in Quicken, but I don’t really know how this might work (feel free to comment if you do know how it might work).

With this simple act of financial slight of hand you have now hid money away in your Savings First account that you can forget about until you need it.

A Word of Caution

A word of caution, if you don’t fool yourself into forgetting about (or protecting yourself financially from yourself) your Savings First account, you may end up simply raiding the cookie jar (i.e. withdrawing money from your Savings First account) whenever you feel any financial anxiety, instead of forcing yourself to stop spending. You must show a degree of financial intestinal fortitude with this model.

After a period of time you will have built up a significant amount of savings,if, you put more than a token amount in your Savings First account, and you manage to keep from taking funds from this account for non-essential reasons.

I have used this method to set up an automatic savings set up to put my Property Tax, House Insurance, and Car Insurance money aside for their yearly payment, so this method does work.


Legroom Fees?

This was written before the business of service fees really hit for airlines. The bait and switch mentality of this industry is astounding. First we had legroom fees, now we have luggage fees, as well? Astounding.

The Air Canada “Leg Room Tariff” is one step too far in my estimation. Over the years I have watched traveling in an airplane going from being an elegant thing, where civilized folks dressed well and were all civil with each other, to these days where I think it’s lucky that folks are wearing clean clothes (don’t get me started about the people who travel in sandals and then complain that the plane is too cold).

As time has passed, we have gone from complimentary candies at the start of flights and on landing to help you with “popping ears”, to the point now where I would not be surprised to see pay toilets offered by an airline.  Hidden costs abound in air travel these days, where they could just as easily offer a free flight to Toronto from Ottawa and still end up charging you over $150 in service fees (there is a landing fee, does that mean if I don’t pay it we don’t land?).

This new tariff for the seats in Economy that have a bit more leg room are now going to cost more is beyond gouging. Being someone who does not fit in airliner (unless I am in Business class or First Class) being able to sit in a seat that allows me not to have to fold myself in half to be able to fit was nice, but now I will not have access to these seats unless I am willing to pay for them, and the seats are “available”.

The fee will only be $14 for each leg of your trip, to sit in a bulk head seat or in one of the emergency exits, but it stinks in my estimation.  So if someone who cannot open the emergency exit pays for the seat, and refuses to move people may die in an emergency situation? Seems like a safety issue to me.

Will you pay this fee? Me I don’t travel these days, so it is a non-relevant question for me right now, but for the frequent fliers out there are you going to pay? I single out Air Canada on this one, but I will bet other Airlines will add this fee quickly if Air Canada succeeds with this new fee.


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