Thursday, 2nd August 2001

Admin Problems


My aunt lost her husband some 3 years ago. He was Portuguese and lived in Paris. My auntie went to the Portuguese administration to declare his official death. She needed a "death certificate" to have access to my uncle's current account in Portugal. The authorities needed a recent "birth certificate" before issuing the "death certificate", so my aunt travelled to another department, in another area of Lisbon, to get that paper. "No, said that department, a birth certificate can only be issued by the person himself/herself!" And my aunt was stuck for days and weeks because of this administrative anomaly. This is typical for Portugal.

You will find these situations at every scale of the administration there. Now here in England they don't call me "customer from hell" for nothing. I can spot those administrative paradoxes very quickly. The difference between Portugal and England though is that in England these problems will systematically affect those with an "international touch", or in other words, if the matter is not staying in England,...trouble. Here some examples, and tomorrow I'll give some more.

Mobile Phones ( One2One): I chose One2One because they are the cheapest for international calls, and they are owned by Deutsche Telekom. Surely this must be an international company? .....Biiiiig mistake. First I had to pay a deposit of 150.00 to be allowed to call abroad. Then I realised while in Luxembourg, I couldn't call to England...That's another department, responsible for "international roaming". Grrrrrrr! On every bill, this sentence: "All credit cards accepted. Really? No! They take Visa, Eurocard/Mastercard, American Express, etc....but only if the card has been issued in England. You have a German Visa...piss off! Ok, so I will take my English Visa then, but, hey will not work... because I'm not allowed to pay more than 250 per month per card, and my bill is 278.00. Have to send a cheque, oooops ( ooh yes, and I will come back to that cheque story tomorrow )...Surely any normal person would have switched to another provider already, but it took me 1 to 2 months to get all in order with this company, it will be the same shit with another provider...with more expensive international call charges, of course...Solution: Do not call abroad...and there won't be any problems!

Tomorrow, I'll give you "customer from hell" examples for Natwest ( online banking ), Eurotunnel ( online booking ), Eurostar ( return tickets ), Sky satellite dish ( 200...British channels ), BMW spare parts ( should start import business there )... I'd like to hear your experiences in France, Finland, Luxembourg, would be fun to exchange ideas here...

See you tomorrow ( and have a smashing day )


Sent by a Luxembourg friend ( who did not want to be named ) and translated: " Do you know the origin of the word "fuck"? Under Henry VIII the London population diminished dramatically due to wars and disease, and jails were packed with criminals and prostitutes. So King Henry VIII allowed sex between male criminals and prostitutes, and these encounters were called " Fornication Under the Control of the King", hence F.U.C.K.. ( My friend said, this is the reason why half of the English population have got criminal or prostitute ancesters........nononnononono, not funny anymore )

Alex note: I investigated, and I invite you to check out the following hyperlink. Is the story above really true??? See for yourself: