Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Note: This is an early post. There was one last night and there'll be another later today. Unless I kill myself.

I'm writing this under a pale sun in Vegetables Square, where I'm awaiting the glass of wine I desperately need, before lunching with my American friend, Dwight, and his visitor from Cuba.

Why am I so desperate for a drink? Press on, dear reader . . .

Another visit – my fourth – to the Land Registry this morning. And yet another failure. Three reasons:- 1. They don't accept payment by credit or debit card, only cash; 2. the clerk couldn't explain how on earth they'd arrived at the base of 620,000 euros for the calculation of their large fee - a valuation of my house which is six times what it was when I bought it. Not double, not triple, not quadruple, not quintuple but whatever the word is. Sextuple?; and 3. the Registrar wouldn't be able to answer my queries as she was out having a coffee. The clerk asked me to wait twenty or thirty minutes. I said there was no point as I didn't have 550 euros in cash on me. So I'd come back tomorrow and talk to the Registrar then. OK, she said, “But try to come in a bit earlier to that you catch here before she goes off for her coffee.” I despair. Which century are we in?

Another visit to Vodafone. My sixth? And yet another failure. Or maybe it was a success. You choose.
Phase 1: The guy I speak to says he knows nothing and I need to speak to his colleague.
Phase 2: I wait ten minutes while his colleague deals with three young women.
Phase 3: The woman I've dealt with on my previous visits tells me she needs to talk to me about my application as she was basically misinformed by Head Office about Option XS6. Turns out – as I've long suspected – that, if my consumption arises above the minimum of 9 euros, the total will be added to the quota of 6 euros. Something which she has previously denied thrice. I ask her why it's taken three weeks and a visit from me for her to tell me this. She tells me she's left a message on my answerphone. I look sceptical but continue listening as she tells me that perhaps Option XS8 is the one I really need. Wearily, I take the July brochure, telling her I'll return one day. And maybe I will.

Second visit to the herbolaria near the Peregrina chapel.
So, did you find the coriander seeds?
No. They haven't brought us them. But they will today. Call in again tomorrow.
[Wearily] OK.
A third failure, then.

And while I'm on this theme . . . I am, of course, delighted I can get free internet down under the parasols here in Vegetables Square. But I'm beginning to get a little bit more than irritated that, whatever I'm doing at the time, access is cut after 20 minutes, every single time. As it just has been. This can't be an accident and I guess it's to stop people staying on line when they're not using the service. But surely they could find a more consumer-friendly way of doing it than this. Or perhaps not. This is Spain after all.

BUT . . .This morning was not a complete disaster. To be very honest, it was a pretty normal day at the office, when it comes to my expeditions into town. And there was one success; I made a reservation for some friends in Hotel Ruas, here on the corner of Vegetables Square. With luck, it'll still be in the book when they check in. To end on a positive note . . . I highly recommend the place. If only because it gave me my morning's only incontrovertible success.

Reader Moscow is wont to tell me that the UK is going down the pan and that Spain will export/work her way out of her current mess. I beg to differ and will touch on this tonight. In a nutshell, after mornings like this, I can understand why all my expat friends in business here spit blood so often. Much as I love living here as a retiree, I wouldn't survive a day if I had to earn my keep here. Or, rather, I would but much of the rest of my life would be in gaol.

And now for that drink!


Eugenia said...

Hi Colin - your struggles do sound a little like my recent experiences with PCWorld. I will NEVER go there again. I find the incompetence here in England to be more of the faceless systems type, whereeas I think in Spain (from my forays into house purchasing and Fenosa etc) it is about a level of chaos closer to home.

Anyway, I'm very pleased that the only glimmer of success today was a win/win for us both. But I will be phoning Hotel Ruas closer to the time to check the reservation has survived! Thanks again.


Victor B. said...

Never mind which century we live in, some things never change -at least in Spain-
This article was first published in1833: http://www.ensayistas.org/antologia/XIXE/larra/larra12.htm

CafeMark said...

Sounds very similar to what's happened to me in the Uk in the last few months. I know I went to pay my council tax, but wasn't allowed to pay by credit card - luckily they accepted debit cards. It took me literally months to get an old contract with T-mobile cancelled - extremely annoying as I'd taken out a new one for a new phone with them. I can't say in either case that it shows the competitiveness of a nation, rather it shows the sluggishness and inflexibility of big institutions.

CafeMark said...

More excellent export results here: http://www.cincodias.com/articulo/economia/sebastian-afirma-exportaciones-han-crecido-digitos-meses/20110712cdscdseco_16/ 15 consecutive months of double digit growth.

Ferrolano said...

What a wonderful day you’ve had and yes, you deserve that drink…..!!

You’ll probably find that the reason that City Hall only accepts cash is that if you were to use a debit card, the monies entering into the bank account would be immediately snaffled to go toward paying off the overdraft that all local governments seem to operate on.

You should have asked for the name of the café where the Registrar takes coffee, gone there, invited the person to coffee and croissant and that way you could have jumped the queue and very pleasantly taken care of business. And, for the sake of continuity, (this assuming a positive result) you would periodically stop by the same café and repeat the coffee and croissant process. Also, find out where the Registrar takes a midday aperitif and go along there to invite a glass of wine or vermouth, of course with a tapa…

Vodafone, Movistar, Orange or whoever else, I feel are all about the same and all will screw you one way or another. Sure, it’s good to keep going in and out of the various offices telling them what deals you have been offered elsewhere, just to let them know that you know what’s going on and if you keep insisting, somebody will make you a deal that you can’t refuse. Also, who provides the best coverage for where you are likely to be?

I can’t wait for your second edition….

Colin said...


EH made the point a week or two back that the problem is the export sector is just not large enough to act as the motor of increased total growth. But maybe one day.

And there's no denying there are some excellent, efficient Spanish companies. I just don't happen to deal with any in my private, retired capacity. Though I suppose the utility companies are efficient at what they do. Especially at taking the money from my account before they've sent me a bill.

Just as there are some very clever, extremely hard-working Spaniards. Widely felt to be around 10 to 15% of the population. They carry the rest of the passengers. And I do know some of these. They tend to be even more critical of things Spanish than me and my ilk. And they often leave the country. Unlike me, who's here for the duration.

Colin said...

No debit cards at the Registro. Only cash.