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.