Friday, January 26, 2007

Customer service . . . First, the good news. The Corte Inglés store I went to in Madrid last weekend not only had announcements in both Spanish and English but also directories on every floor, telling you where things could be bought. I wonder when this revolutionary concept will arrive in Vigo. Less positively – I tried in Pontevedra today to get an Ordnance-Survey-type map of the Lugo area. To put things in context, this is 140km from here. The assistant grimaced when I mentioned Lugo. And then again when I asked if I could order the right map. But she did give me a reference I could use after I’d driven there and found a place stocking the maps. Not by any means for the first time, I was left with the impression Pontevedra and any town beyond, say 25km, are in different galaxies. This most frequently happens when you ask your bank if they can liaise with a branch more than walking distance away. Localism.

Showing what you can do when you own the only phone line and have friends in high places, Telefonica have again increased their rental charges. This brings the 6 year increase to 87%, or 11% a year. This is somewhat higher than even the real inflation rate. And pure profit since it’s unrelated to consumption. The good news is that, apart from these exorbitant rental charges, I now shove my phone payments into the coffers of other companies. Or not, in the case of the miracle operator, Skype. These are not unconnected events.

Still on the theme of customer rip-off, Spanish banks are reported to have raised their credit card fees by 19% last year, or 6 times the inflation rate. The average charge is now 27 euros a year. As it’s possible [even here] to get a card free, I can’t help wondering whether this isn’t a reflection of the customer inertia banks throughout the world have long relied on. Then, of course, there’s the Spanish ‘personal factor’ which means it’s an insult to move your business away from someone you’ve known all your life. However much you’re being fleeced.

You would be forgiven for thinking that UN sanctions against North Korea are now in place. In fact, they’re not. For two months, Spain has been vetoing them because it doesn’t like the fact the UK has nominated someone from Gibraltar as one of the invigilators. You can understand how wars start when two close partners in the same political union can’t progress an issue as key as this. Mind you, on the face of it, I think in this case it’s up to Spain to prove it isn’t being more stubborn and stupid than the British government.

A while ago, a reader asked if I’d noticed all the thousands of cranes around Spain had an old desk as a counterweight. Well, I had and I wanted to post a photo of the one at the back of my house. But I’ve been thwarted by the fact that there’s been no bloody desk in sight since then. There still isn’t. So here’s a photo of what they’ve got at the moment. I think it’s part of a fork-lift truck but alternative guesses are welcome:-


Anonymous said...

That gadget is the same as part of a forklift truck and it can be slid under a pallet of bricks or any other articles and lifted to where you want it.
Eamon de La Coruña

murcian said...

By coincidence, I was purchasing some 1:50,000 maps for parts of Lugo province in the past fortnight (no chance locally here in Murcia, so ordered from At first I was disappointed that they dated back to the early '90s, but on second thoughts probably the only change has been the A6, and for walking purposes it's no problem. Given the choice of higher taxes or older maps, the latter is preferable.

Colin said...

Murcian, Many thanks for this advice. It's even more disappointing to buy a map dated 1975 which consists of 95% white space!

Keefieboy said...

I spend a large part of my life these days in El Corte Inglés's various emporia in Madrid, and another substantial chunk trying to give money to Telefonica (I know they need it - I just wish they would make it a bit easier for me, for example by accepting my cash at their global HQ which is a mere two blocks from where I live). I thought monopolies were illegal in Europe.

Colin said...

As you can imagine, I sympathise!