Category Archives: rant

British passport woes

I blogged about this once before, but now it is even direr.

I ordered a copy of my parents’ marriage certificate online. I was charged for it on May 13th, so I know I was not hallucinating. It still has not arrived.

Today, I sucked on the $9.90 fee to call the british high commission passport service.

The guy there confirmed that I need a copy of their marriage certificate

THEN he said, oh yeah, and 2 copies of other ID like your drivers licence or your medicare card.


What else are they not telling me?

Seriously – I have looked at both form and notes AND at their website and IT DOES NOT SAY TO SEND THESE!!!

Then I checked over my application. Complete form in ink, check. 

Bottom of the checklist but nowhere on the application form? Must be in BLACK ink.

There were tears.

Their 15 days processing time means I will not have any of this stuff in time to go away. I don’t know what that means for enrolling the kids in school, etc.


Bastard bureaucrats are causing dramas. MASSIVE dramas.

I honestly don’t know what to do at this point, other than push on. Print out the form again, go get it witnessed again, go to parents, pick mum up, go to births deathes & marriages office, get form, send everything off in a SUPER PRIORITY ENVELOPE.

I know that this means more to me than it does to them, but surely this is incompetence on their part? You have ONE list of what has to be supplied.

I am just a teensy bit broken right now. 😦

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Posted by on June 1, 2009 in rant



Many, many years ago, I worked for a phone company. And I got a mobile phone, and I had it on a staff plan.

Some years later, they realised that I had left the company and I probably wasn’t entitled to a staff plan anymore. Fortunately, by that time, we could access the same plan through Fraser’s work. So we changed the phone into his name (and got a new number), and kept it on the plan.

Earlier this year, we got a letter to say that they had realised we were on the really really good plan that plan was no longer available and they had switched us to a basic plan.  My phone bills went from about $15-$25 a month to around $100 a month. Ouch. I need the phone for work, so cancelling was not an option. And I am, mostly, allergic to contracts, especially on services that I have been using since 1995 or so.

Then I went to Europe. I rang to confirm I had Roaming, and they told me that I had to go onto a Plan. A 12 month  contract, to be specific. So I said OK, because I really really wanted to be able to use my phone in Europe, and I got a contract.

Me: “Can I upgrade it later, if the minimum contract is not enough?”
Phone person: “Yes.”

Well now you know what’s coming.

My phone bills stayed at around the $100 level. So in December, I rang to change to a higher plan. Which I have to stay on for 12 months, which will be annoying if we go to Europe next year (but worthwhile in the meantime).

I got my first bill today – with a $101.73 charge for switching plans. WTF?

I rang the phone company, with 2 points.

  1. I was told in October that I could upgrade from the $20 plan. No-one mentioned a charge.
  2. I was not told in December that I would be slugged with this extortionate charge.

Their response had me utterly gob-smacked and dumbfounded:

You didn’t change to the same TYPE of plan, so that is why you were charged the fee.

I pointed out, quite gently, that perhaps it was not reasonable to expect a customer to have an intimate knowledge of their internal and arbitrary distinctions between their types of plan.

Then I told the consultant that I was really quite annoyed (OMG understatement) and that I was quite prepared to take this case to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

Couple of minutes later, bingo. Charge reversed, please underpay your bill, sorry for the inconvenience, have a nice day.

Whoo hoo. Problem solved.

But really? 


This is bureaucracy at its best worst most bizarre. I’m sorry, you didn’t fill in the RED form and file it in the GREEN box, you lose.

2009 appears to be Melissa’s Year Of Not Tolerating Organisational Stupidity. At least until I get lazy.


Posted by on January 6, 2009 in rant, work


When banks are too efficient (and then charge you lots of fees anyway, bless them)

Back at the start of December, I made 2 transactions through PayPal. Now, my PayPal account is hooked up to (1) my everyday transactions account, which I keep a very small amount of money in, and (2) my VISA card. Specifically, it’s set up to take cash if sufficient cash is there and, if not, to process a credit card transaction. That seems simple enough.

Checking my online bank statement, I noticed that (1) the transactions had come out of my transactions account and put it into a negative balance, even though I have no overdraft facility on that account, and (2) I had been charged a$30 reference fee.


I just rang my bank.

Turns out that, when I upgraded to the all-dancing, all-singing GOLD account with no ATM or foreign currency transaction fees, I got a special thing that “automatic transactions” are never rejected. Which I didn’t know (silly, me, must read those 60 pages of terms and conditions more closely). And PayPal transactions are considered “automatic transactions”.

So even though PayPal said, if there isn’t any money in your account then we will take it from your VISA card, my bank were kind and generous and allowed the transaction to go through.

And then slugged me for 30 bucks for the privilege.

I rang just now and sorted it out. They are refunding the reference fee, and I will delete access to my savings account from PayPal.

It seems the safest solution.


Posted by on December 31, 2008 in rant


Bah Humbug?

I love Christmas.

I mean, I really love Christmas. I love the carols, I love the decorations, I love the smell of mince pies in the oven.

But so far, I am not loving this Christmas. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on December 24, 2008 in christmas, rant


The Sofa Thickens and the Season is Merry (and frustrating)

Plan for today:

1. Bigster’s German School Christmas concert, 9.30-1pm

2. Choose sofa 1-3pm (including travel)

3. Buy gift vouchers (same place)

4. Family friends’ Christmas party, 3pm-

5. Our friends’ Christmas party, some time after 5pm.

What actually happened: Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on December 14, 2008 in rant, shopping


Feeling sad

Blech. I’ve now been drawn into the “shilling” discussions at Boardgamenews.

I started a few times to write a detailed rebuttal, but decided that it’s not worth the hassle. I am feeling pretty sad about it all, though.  Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on September 18, 2008 in games, rant


Railway travel

I was going to blog about penguins and exciting things today but instead I have a rant. Or a self-mock. One or the other.

I went to book a train trip today, for when I arrive in England. I found a great fare (1st class, barely any more than 2nd and much cheaper than most 2nd class fares) and found the right train. Then I discovered that holders of 1st class tickets get to use the OMGLOUNGE (yay). That sold me – I went to book

It would not accept my VISA card. Stupid Verified by VISA always seems to cause problems.

So I tried my OTHER VISA card. Same problems.

Eventually, in much frustration (OMG it was a GREAT price, 20 pounds less than last time I travelled by train to York 15 years ago), I borrowed Fraser’s Mastercard.

The transaction went through, no problems.

Then I got the confirmation email.

Not only can buyers of DISCOUNT first class tickets not use the OMGLounge *sob*, you have to show the credit card that you used to make the booking when you pick up your tickets.

Only, I don’t have an auxiliary card on that account. So I CANNOT show that card when I pick up the tickets IN LONDON.

I went to email them. Entered booking number, address, country, postcode … ERROR MESSAGE. YOU MUST ENTER A VALID POSTCODE.

That’s right. They do validation on UK only postcodes, even for non-UK addresses.

I am wondering how much more can go wrong with this transaction.

Anyway, gave a random postcode and emailed them. Hopefully my passport will be evidence enough.

Silly people.

Verdict: Amusing. Could still become annoying, but for now I am going with LOL.


Posted by on August 16, 2008 in rant, travel


Despair for the human race

OK, so I am a spelling prescriptivist.

But when I get a spam fax that reads

Be efficient and sharp this year! – Put a Postage Meter on your desk and avoid the Post Office cues

I just want to cry.

Or, you know, run to mock it on the Internet.


Posted by on May 7, 2008 in languages, rant



The auction is this Saturday.

I am not doing very well at distracting myself into not thinking about it.

Over the past 4-6 weeks, clearance rates around Melbourne have dropped to below 65%. Prices for comparable properties have fallen by $30,000 or more. We will be lucky to reach the amount that the second offer was for (the one that the agent knocked back without even talking to us because it was too low).

Do I sound stressed? I am stressed. The effect of all this stress is that I am a bit miserable without any real reason to be unhappy. I am not good at being powerless – and there’s nothing I can do to improve the selling price at this point. I’m not even cheering myself up with thinking about OMG ESSEN! because even that may fall through if the house does not sell at all. And while I recognise that this is unlikely, Stress and Misery have kicked in with their nasty little messages. And I don’t like it, because I like to think that I am an upbeat and positive person.

Realistically, it is unlikely that the property will not sell at all.

It is possible that it will not sell at auction – even that it will not attract even a single bid.

The agents *think* they have 2 or possibly 3 bidders. First home buyers and investors, mostly. All they can talk about is what is wrong with the property (I am told that this is normal real estate bastardry).

We have to set a reserve price by Saturday.


I just feel a little bit sick.


Posted by on April 8, 2008 in rant, realestate



A friend told me the other day that a mutual friend/acquaintance had passed an interesting comment on me. He described me as “very down to earth and practical”


Gentlemen, take note. “Down to earth and practical” does not rate high on the list of Ways I want to be Thought Of.

One of my great frustrations is the extent to which I am forced to be practical, to make sure that the things that need to be done get done. In fact, I bitterly resent that this leaves little time for whimsy and fun.

I was really quite upset about it, even though I know he didn’t mean it at all unkindly.

Then I reminded myself that being upset doesn’t achieve anything, pulled my head in, and attacked my To-Do list.

An aside. Last week, I created a new tag – not your earth logic. It has since occurred to me that that could potentially be applied to 90% or more of the posts I make here. Ooops.


Posted by on March 19, 2008 in not your earth logic, rant