Saturday, 7 July 2007

Annoyed and confused

Yup, you're right. Another rant coming. If you're after sweetness and light, go away. Nothing for you here today.

It all started on Thursday when I bought a car on eBay. A four wheel drive which we plan to take to Kenya - cars being ridiculously expensive over there. I got an extremely good deal that would have had me quite worried were it not for the sobbing sounds emanating from the other end of the phone when I called to arrange payment. Anyway, this was not what annoyed me - although I suppose that reveals me as a heartless bitch who had the rest of the story coming to her...

Anyway, the seller would accept Paypal but would then slap an extra 4% on (which starts to negate the joy of a good deal) so we agreed that the Good Man and I would drive down to Durham today and pay him in cash. And then make a weekend of it somewhere pretty on the coast. So far, so good.

This morning I go to the bank to draw my cash over the counter (it was a good deal but still a sum over my daily ATM limit!) and... they're closed! No counter service on a Saturday. What?! I know for a fact that people shop in Scotland on Saturday. And what about people who work 9-5 jobs during the week. What are they meant to do? I'm now confused.

So, now I can't pay cash, I revert back to the Paypal idea. Except they set a limit on the amount you can pay through their system unless you register your bank account - which takes three days. ARRRGHHHH!

I phoned my bank and try to arrange a CHAPS transfer which should have the money in his account on Monday and asked them to email him a confirmation. They do the transfer but say they can only email me 'for security reasons'. Ah, what? How would emailing someone a letter, containing only their bank account details and confirmation that money is being paid into it be a security risk? I don't understand. So they email it to me but via their website and in a format that cannot be forwarded and has no letterhead or mention of the bank name. So it does not prove I've made the payment. Fortunately the seller (who by this stage is utterly sick of hearing from me every five minutes on a Saturday morning) agrees to just let it go.

But the whole experience got me thinking about other things here I don't understand.

Like 'health and safety'. Everything is more difficult because of health and safety. Public pools can sell goggles, costumes and diving hoops for children. But no floats. Health and safety. So it's okay to send them to the bottom of the pool to retrieve a hoop, but God forbid a child should float! Risky that! Children are, however, allowed to bring their own floats to the pool. Somehow having bought them elsewhere renders them 'safe'. Makes you wonder what the staff keep under the till...

We've also been told by various accommodation providers that they are unable to provide travel cots due to 'Health and Safety'. It's much safer for young children to fall out of standard beds?

And gas and electricity bills that reward you the more energy you consume. Now that's confusing! They charge on a sliding scale! You pay less per unit OVER a set threshold. And then you're told how serious energy conservation is. Surely making the first bit cheap and then charging everyone through the nose for using excessive kilowatts or - dammit, I don't know what a unit of gas is - would incentivise people to use less. Bizarre!

Anyway, the upshot is that I'm NOT in Durham. I do NOT have my new car as the seller wants the payment to clear first (fair enough - this does actually make some sense). I'm annoyed, confused and once again convinced that there is a set of rules here that I am simply not meant to understand and that are kept secret from foreigners.


Iota said...

No, no, no. It's not because you're a foreigner. In fact, this is all a sign that you're becoming naturalised. We Brits love to rant about health and safety, gas bills and banks. You're becoming one of us, and just as you're planning to leave.

They don't let you wear goggles if you are jumping in the pool from the diving board here (health and safety), if that is any comfort.

Kaycie said...

Bless your heart, sweetie. Here's hoping that this is the absolute biggest problem you encounter during your move.

Our Family said...

Fabulous blog. Great sense of humor and wit coupled with a fantastic style of writing. I really enjoy it and don't even know you.

I wanted to introduce myself, hi all my name is Nicole and we just found out we are probably moving to scotland (if we are lucky before Sept. 1) from the U.S. Any helpful advice? We have 3 small children (ages 5, 4 and 10 months). It would be Aberdeen and I understand there are few cultural activities but with three children we wouldn't get to participate anyways.

How bad is the weather? I understand it is rainy but is it raining so hard and so frequently that you can't do things outside? Or do you just ignore the rain and go about your business.

Any helpful websites, organizations, anything you recommend or think I should know?

Thanks in advance

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I couldn't understand why I couldn't take one of my new born lambs into school for the children to cuddle. It was perfectly clean but H&S prevented me. Most kids in the school live on or have members of family on farms. I wouldn't have let it run free, not near the kitchen anyway.


The Good Woman said...

Gosh Iota! You may be right! And good news abou the goggles.Do they let you use nose plugs or is a nose enema safer than accidentally injesting a small piece of plastic?

Thanks for your kind words Kaycie - I hope so too. But I doubt it.

The Good Woman said...

Hello Family from Texas. Thanks so much for you compliments.
I don't know that I am fully qualified to advise you given that Aberdeen has not yet hit my radar. As a general rule though I would advise doing some research on schools and try to get into the catchment of a well rated state school. Property may be more expensive there but you'll save on extortionate private school fees. Also you'll be surrounded by other families with children.

The rain is a bit unrelenting. However, I consider my greatest failing in living here as letting it get to me. The Scots have a saying - 'there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing'. Invest in some good waterproofs and get out there. I'm sure you're tougher than me!

This response is getting pretty long - just send me an email if you have anymore questions and I'm happy to help where I can.

The Good Woman said...

Exactly Crystal. I wonder at the amount of experiences people here are denied because of all these rules.

Annie said...

I understand your grievances. Having worked for a bank I can tell you that they are bound by such restrictive confidentiality rules - they err on the side of 'nothing can ever come back and bite me in the ass' type of security!

Same mentality applies to the float thing - it should be called 'liability' not 'health and safety'.

The Good Woman said...

Hi Annie. I hear you but all these things are possible in other countries.

Anyway, I'm feeling much less annoyed now!

Annie said...

They're possible in the UK too, it's just that individuals and organizations impede the smooth flow of certain things for fear of having to take accountability for anything - however trivial :)