Wednesday, February 27, 2019

QANTAS - They offer platitudes without substance

Firstly ...

Prior to our flight with Qantas this time we were given two passes to the Qantas club as compensation for another Qantas flight which they screwed up.  That ‘honeymoon’ flight was somewhat ruined when our allocated seats were ignored and Qantas reallocated us rows apart.  After I complained to the desk crew they once again reallocated us but to the last row and by the time catering got to us they ran out of food.  Two passes was totally inadequate.  Qantas even said that even though one can book specific seats there is no guarantee that you will ever get them.  Misrepresentation and unfair terms all spring to mind when the ‘fine print’ denied responsibility for advertised benefits such as seat allocation.

Then ...
This time we had time to spare so we used our two passes and entered the Qantas club in Melbourne.
The only acceptable thing about the experience were the women on the front desk who were polite, respectful and helpful.
Picture a Coles cafeteria of the 1960’s awash with people and mess.  This is the sight which greeted us.  Down market is an understatement.  No available seats, piles of used plates and mess everywhere.  Still, our passes were now taken away and we persevered until someone left and we grabbed their table.
We thought that perhaps a glass of bubbly would be nice only to find just over a glass left in the self serve which was not replaced for the 45 mins we were there.  No staff!
Try breakfast.  There must have been over 100 people in the largish facility yet the hot breakfast options consisted of 6 getting cold tiny sausages, a small bowl of scrambled eggs which should have been replaced hours before and slices of warm tomato.  That’s it!
We then sought coffee but found a problem as there were no cups.  We scavenged the entire lounge for cups to find two and tried the machine coffee.  It was undrinkable and we left same.
An original Qantas screw up leading to this ‘compensation’ which proved well below any standard.  No bubbly, food we couldn’t eat, coffee we couldn’t drink and all in a dirty space. 
One has to ask just what Qantas are doing.  What sort of management lets this happen?  Obviously management were incompetent and needed help if not look for another job.
Move on a few weeks to Qantas club in Heathrow and the whole experience was vastly different.  Good front desk, good staff, a clean lounge, a snack buffet of fresh food and nice wines served by great staff.  Toilets immaculate as were the showers.  A good relaxing place my wife and I enjoyed during our forced 10 hour break between flights.
Pity Melbourne is managed so badly.

Then ...
Our actual flight from Melbourne to Singapore was barely above Neanderthal with extremely tight seats further disadvantaged by almost non-existent service.  Cabin crew are wait staff and as such bear a huge responsibility to make customers feel special and to cater for their every need.  Staff chatting in the back of the plane instead of looking after customers is offensive to paying guests. 

The catering offerings were as down market as the Qantas club.  The bread roll was inedible being nuked too long as was the so called pizza.  The blade ‘stew’ was below first year apprentice standard and the mash had the consistency of yogurt.  Absolutely awful.

Then ..
We were told our next flight from Singapore to London [QF1 on the 20th of December 2018] was running 3 hours late with no explanation.  This meant we would have missed all connecting flights to Helsinki et alia despite allowing a 2 hour window.  No reason or alternatives were given despite asking for same.  We found a Singapore flight which would have lobbed us into London with time to spare for the connection.  We asked Qantas to re-book us on that flight and they did but somewhat grudgingly.  We were glad to get rid of Qantas.

Qantas, just what are you doing?
Qantas, like some others, have developed a ‘commuter bus’ mentality rather than a ‘tourist coach’ mentality.  This also applies to the so called club at Melbourne.

Do Qantas care?  Definitely NO!  They offer platitudes without substance.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019


Restaurants are NOT public toilets and it amazes me that the downward challenged think they have a right to use what is in effect a private toilet when they feel the need. These people should put their names on a public database so that any and all can come knocking on THEIR door. We have travelled extensively and like everyone else needed to use a toilet at times but, out of respect for the restaurateur, we became a customer and at least bought a beer so we could use the facility [unfortunately a self defeating cycle - wahoo!] .
Good word, respect.


It is the Australian way and is indeed behoven on everyone to embrace all as ‘mate’ but with respect  and generosity .   Make people feel special by welcoming them into your greater circle through recognition of their heritage - because that is their history and that is ‘who they are’.  We are not all the same and it’s the differences that make for interesting ‘everything’ and a successful multi-cultural society.
Embrace the differences!!
Humans attempt to ferret out similarities so that we perceive common ground from which to, make friends.  This is neither nefarious nor does it sport hidden agendas.  It is a simple and genuine desire to interact. 
In Europe where there are many many nationalities the question ‘where are you from’ is an ice breaker question designed to proffer conversation [not discussion].  It is not aggressive or demeaning or threatening or building to a racial ‘discussion’ rather it is an act of friendship to be able to just talk.  Talking is good.
So, for all who see a threat by asking the question, ‘where are you from’, get a life.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Interest only loans

I am having trouble understanding the hoo-hah and drivel surrounding interest only loans.
There are continual reports and articles by so called expert journalists expounding doom and gloom warning that millions are about to lose their homes all due to the borrowers stupidity and having the temerity to acquire interest only mortgages.
Human nature is such that we will believe anything which falls in line with our hopes and desires because we want it to be true.  Financial Services Providers [FSP] know this and advertise their products to appeal to satisfying those hopes and desires.  Nothing knew and something of which we are all well aware.
The FSP throws out a carrot to vulnerable people [all of us] by offering the dream couched in glowing rhetoric.  People look past the 95%+ leverage and the interest only nature of the loan because they can now afford to get into their own home and stop paying rent and the world will now be a place of joy and abundance.
Providing the numbers are correct in terms of affordability and our countries’ economy is solid, this cannot be a bad thing on several levels including growth in the building industry and giving people a smile.
However, FSP’s are treading a fine line to profit because they know an economic hiccup may cause issues.  Even if employment is strong any downturn in prices will see the people who were sold the dream drop into ‘temporary’ negative equity.  This is not an issue for the borrower as property prices will increase eventually but it is an issue for the lender or those people who sold the dream.  Why?  Because their loan books have also hit negative equity and they may even be trading insolvent because they have lent more than their assets cover.
So, it’s not the borrower who has the immediate issue, it’s the lender having overstepped their own risk parameters and panicking.
Everyone then panics driven by stupid sensationalist reporting and spending stops and the country slows causing even more panic and we all, lose the smile.
The issue is NOT interest only loans as this is merely a vehicle to pay and it’s the borrower who must face the consequences and pay the piper if the world’s economy implodes, terrorists blow up Christmas, Tsunami’s hit Uluru and/or unemployment rises.
The issue is leverage and equity.   If global economic meltdown happens and s/he loses their job then they have a nest egg or fail safe to be able to sustain payments providing they have paid off a portion of the loan.   This a comfortable place to be in knowing that even if the worst happens home will still be home.
So, to be able to sleep at rest, go for the interest only loan but with a leverage not exceeding say 90% and pay into that loan account every cent you can muster, live off the credit card and draw only enough to pay that credit card on the last day of interest free periods.  Two reasons, firstly it reduces interest on the interest only home loan and secondly builds a panic fund so if something does happen all is not lost.  Manage your debt and don’t let the dream makers profit at your expense.
And that is the issue.  There is nothing wrong with leverage and interest only providing you use the system to advantage and manage the debt.  I mean active hands on management knowing for example exactly when to pay credit card debt.  Know your commitments and build a simple spreadsheet of all debts on a time line so you know what needs to be paid and when.
The FSP’s know all this but prefer not to have to think about it by offering so called ‘vanilla’ home loans of principal and interest where loan exposure is reduced all the time.  This is an advantage to the FSP but not the borrower.  The FSP’s then load the interest rate for interest only to dissuade people from this type of loan because they know, if it’s managed, they will lose profit.  Worse, the borrower has no fail safe. 


The answer is simple – make people accountable for their free choice to take illicit drugs. Instead of expecting everyone else to pay for them to dodge law enforcement and in particular, the consequences of OD, charge the individual the full cost of any and all authorities actions.
Our society quite rightly looks after individuals in the event of mishap and this does not change with helping those who illegally quaff some hope of escape. However, when that activity is illegal and known to be illegal by everyone, then having society continually pick up the bill is tantamount to supporting that unlawful behaviour and flies against the ethos of our system of law.
Some of the so called solutions are bizarre because they accept an illegal act as legitimate which in turn undermines that system of law. Drugs are illegal and, for example, the idea of pill testing legitimises that illegal activity and compromises the Police to even be able to uphold the law. A stupid idea lacking clear thinking or indeed, consequences.
On one hand, if we get caught unlawfully speeding we cop a fine which we have to pay. We don’t expect the country to pick up the tab! Otherwise speeding would become an art form without consequences. These consequences are already well defined and accepted by everyone.
Yet, on the other hand, we cannot ignore the pile of human jetsam derailed from society because of drugs as that would be unacceptable and indeed immoral. But, as long as there is a ‘free’ safety net provided by society, the drug affected dross will continue to take advantage. As they have and do!
Perhaps, start with OD. Calculate the ‘full’ cost of having to ‘rescue’ someone and charge them the total amount to be paid as any other debt to society with well known, ‘already in place through our courts’ and accepted consequences for debt evasion. The same as any speeding fine.
I don’t know what the full cost of paramedics, ambulance, hospital, doctors, medicines etal would be but if it’s say $10,000 [perhaps 10 weeks of value adding community service or army reserves or tax debt] then charging the perpetrator [note – NOT victim] would make them think twice and at least reduce their capacity to buy more drugs.
In this case, Australia is the victim because we are held to ransom by those who play on our quite appropriate moral responsibility to help everyone in trouble. Indeed, those of self proclaimed higher moral judgment will always play the ‘poor little kiddies card’ yet offer no solution other than the wringing of hands in a most sanctimonious yet perplexed manner. But when that ‘trouble’ is illegal, self inflicted and repetitive then ultimate consequences must fall on the perpetrator, not Australia as the victim. As our system of law demands.
Think consequences. Simple.


You remember, when the brats were little they used to fight over the ‘Walkman’ whilst in the back seat ignoring the wonders passing by.  Then we saw the rise and rise of technology ‘keep the kids quiet gizmos’ like TV in backrests relegating silence to the back seat whilst they still ignored the wonders passing by. 
Then, as they grew up, the poor sods developed a social enigma called Fear Of Missing Out [FOMO] which is a direct downside of the need to remain socially available 24/7 - at all costs.  They were now glued to minuscule screens on their ‘personal devices’ waiting, waiting, waiting rereading old messages whilst still ignoring, the wonders passing by.
That generation has grown up but are still glued to their minuscule screens hence the proliferation of ‘pop up’ screens on top of car dashboards keeping those same now grown up kids abreast of ‘everything’ on a second by second basis.  Emails, blue tooth, twitter, Instagram, face book and maybe even real life people actually calling.   The giant 12” screen has taken over and, the wonders still pass by.
Just look at any footpath and see the number of people with their activated ‘device’ front and centre whilst walking blind waiting for something to appear on their minuscule screens,  anything!
Addiction is obvious and it translates directly to new cars in that the cars ‘activated device’ pops up front and centre topside whilst the real world of wonders still continues to pass by.   The footpath dysfunction has been replaced by a road dysfunction.
The other day I jumped into my wife’s absolutely classically simple, immaculate  and beautiful 1988 MX5 in a feckless rage with the roof down, no radio [doesn’t work], no phone, tablet, computer, twitter, face book or indeed any connection on any device  of any kind.  I watched the wonders pass by.  I was back in the real world.
Do we need ‘connection’ 24/7?  No.