Monday, July 4, 2011

We got mail!

OK I’ll try and curb my enthusiasm,  but we don’t get mail too danged often in these parts.  All the bills that we pay are done automatically,  so it’s mostly a matter of making sure there’s enough money in our Austrian bank account.

This is a concept that I’m sure is pretty foreign to most anyone in North America,  and I’m just going to go off on a slight tangent here and briefly explain.   When we first moved to the Netherlands,  we were not only surprised to discover that such a thing as a cheque (or as the Americans would call it,  a “check”)  simply does NOT exist here,  but that all utilities and such are taken directly out of your bank account.  Kind of like the way you might set up a car payment,  only scarier.   By scarier I mean,  the amount is going to change ever so slightly from one month to the next,  so it’s best to not only keep an eye on things,  but letting your account run down to anything under a few hundred Euros is a no-no.   On the other hand,  we got a welcome letter from Wien Energie (the utility company,  in case you don’t want to click the link) a couple months back,  outlining everything we had paid last year, showing that in fact the equal payment plan they had put us on was a bit too generous, (for them)  and that they were going to stick a few Euros back in our account.  I figured they’d just prorate it off our following bills,  but no,  they plonked a little over €600 back in our account within a few weeks!

Alrighty then!

And I guess this is why it gets less and less scary as you go along,  since presumably there must be rules in place so these outfits can’t abuse the crap out of their customers,  like some others that we’ve dealt with in the past.   In Canada that is,  not here.
Put it this way,  there’s no way in hell I’d give my account information to any company in Canada.  Just too dangerous.  I’m kind of thinking along the lines of certain gym memberships,  but we won’t go there.
So here’s what we got!

In case you can’t quite figure it out,  it’s a wedding invitation.  I’ve covered up names and such because well,  that’s what I do.  There was some slight elevation in stress levels when Canada Post was in full strike mode,  but it would seem that they are in fact clearing up the backlog of mail.  They SAID they were going to,  but I’m a bit of a sceptic when it comes to those kinds of pronouncements.  It’s Canada Post?  Hello?
I mean,  we knew already about the wedding!  This couple got engaged back just before Christmas,  and in subsequent emails and Facebook postings,  it wasn’t too long before we knew exactly when and where this event was going to take place.   I’ve already booked our hotel room.
Hm,  now that I think of it,  I sure hope that suit I have hanging in my closet at home is still going to fit!  Wowsers!  I may have to go “suit shopping”.   Fun times!   *sigh*.

Oh,  and I should mention,  getting back to the lack of cheque thing,  if you want to pay for a service or whatever that isn’t set up to come out of your account,  most everyone has pre-printed banking slips that you fill out with your account number.  Then you sign it and the bank stamps it,  and Bob’s yer uncle!  The payment usually goes through within a day or so.   It’s kind of like a cheque,  only to me a cheque is like a note from your Mom,  whereas the bank people can see right there whether you have the money in your account.   So I guess it’s like a draught or money order? 
Something like that.

There’s a way of doing it through a machine in the lobby of the bank,  but I’m too afraid of screwing something up,  so I just go inside and deal with an actual person.    They don’t mind.

Now,  speaking of the automatic withdrawal thingy,  since getting an Austria American Express (something not quite right with that syntax)  and cancelling the Amex that Travelling Companion had in the Netherlands,  I no longer have to traipse into the bank every month with the bill and do an international transaction.  Man I used to hate that!
I’d get a different person every month,  and it got to the point that I’d just bring in last month’s example to make it easier to explain what I wanted to do.  Bad enough it’s all in German,  but I really would prefer not be required to explain someone’s job to them?  I’m just saying.
And don’t worry,  I was always very nice.

So now that means that the Amex bill is also set up to come out automatically. That’s certainly convenient, but you can well imagine that we REALLY need to keep an eye out for that one,  since it quite often has all the flights on it that Travelling Companion has taken. 
I’ll let you think about that.

Well,  it was in today’s mail as too.
Kind of takes the thrill out of “getting mail”,  especially since this one has the flight on it that we booked to go home for the wedding,  along with a bunch of other stuff.  Not going to tell you how much it was,  but I’ll just say that,  for a good twenty years there in my early car ownership days,  I bought many a used car for less than the amount of this one bill.

But hey,  truth be told (and when haven’t I?)  just about all of that stuff is covered by expenses through the Company That Cannot Be Named,  including the flight home to Canada in August,  since it will qualify as our “home leave”.

Did I ever mention that?   We get an annual “home leave”,  which basically means they plonk some money into our account once a year.  If we thought we could possibly do it,  we wouldn’t even need to actually go home.  They don’t care.  They put the money in there anyway.  So whether you travel in Steerage, First Class,  hot air balloon, or in the cargo hold of some freighter,  it doesn’t matter.  They come up with some number,  and that’s what you get.   Again, without getting into any proprietor information (‘cause it’s none of yer flippin’ business) we’ve come out ahead each time we’ve taken our “home leave”. 
I can dig it.

I can see by my magic word count thingy,  my wordiness is getting well past the point of boring the crap out of anyone who has had the attention span to stick with me up to this point.  

So that will be it for today.

Keep it between the ditches.


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Well, I've been getting too many spam comments showing up. Just a drag, so we'll go another route and hope that helps. So, we won't be hearing anything more from Mr. Nony Moose.
I guess I'll just have to do without that Gucci purse.