Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog
GeneralFriday, June 19th, 2015, (2:57 pm)

It’s surely a long accepted fact that banks are pretty much evil? They caused the global economic crisis then held their hands out and demanded huge bailouts without showing a hint of shame, regret, humility or even embarrassment. Who among us hasn’t felt at least a little screwed by a bank at least once? If only we could charge them dumb fees like they charge us, right? Well, I think we can, in fact I have, and they’ve paid!

Male them pay

I’ve not lived in the UK now for some years, but I still have a UK bank account just because it’s handy. I use Smile, the internet bank of the Co-op. I chose them because out of the collection of slippery not-to-be-trusted UK banks to choose from, they seemed like the least evil.

Truthfully, if I had planned my exit from dreary shores of the United Kingdom a little better, I would have picked another bank, one whose overseas card usage and currency conversion charges weren’t as objectionable, but I’m rather stuck with them now.

Over the years since I’ve left Smile have given me little reason to smile at all. Banking isn’t exactly something any ordinary person finds reason to look happy about. Dealing with your bank is rather like dealing with your need to use a toilet. It’s just a fact of life and there’s no need to dwell on it, so to speak.

Bank chargesI travel a great deal, and I’ve managed to train my bank not to constantly block my cards, which they have done many times, sometimes leaving me in really quite awkward situations. However, my recent arrival in India set off some program somewhere that immediately stopped my bank card.

Now I know, this is hardly the end of the world, but its annoying a time consuming to remedy, especially since I had gone to the trouble of writing to them informing them of my travel itinerary and I had also called them prior to my departure.

So this time I did what I’ve taken to doing with companies that levy charges against their customers. I charged them!

In a secure message I informed the bank that they were already aware of my travel arrangements, and as such I would be charging them a £25.41 inconvenience fee.

This is not the first time I have done this. I’ve charged my car insurance a processing fee for when they made me refill a form I had already done, I charged my gas supply company rent for putting their gas meter in my living room, and I charged another bank a handling fee after they deposited a large sum of money in my account by accident some year ago.

They all paid! To be clear, not one of them accepted the charge. However, all of them made a ‘gesture of goodwill’ to the same amount, or very close to the amount, of my fee.

I even called out Qantus for their ‘convenience fee’ when I paid online for a flight using a card. This was in addition to the already high card processing fee! It was the only way I could pay, so it wasn’t like there was a more inconvenient choice for me. I pushed them on this and they simply dropped the fee.

Why should bank charges be a one way street. Not long ago I stood in line at my bank in Melbourne, the single bank teller was having a friendly conversation with the lady at the counter while others stood anxiously in line anxiously watching their lunch hour slide away into that bottomless pit of admin.

As I stood there I pondered for a moment what might happen if everyone in line charged the bank for their time in the same way the bank often charge for a ‘counter service.’ When the teller told me there would be a $6 counter service fee I told him that my fifteen minute wait was chargeable. He looked at me and laughed, then waived the fee, “this time.”

So while this might not be the most interesting blog post ever, I just wanted to use this platform to encourage you to apply a fee to your bank, insurance company, or whatever greedy organisation causes you to have to go out of your way to address something. Its your money were talking about, you might as well try!

Found on the web and MoviesSaturday, January 17th, 2015, (2:34 am)

My friend Madeleine has a poster on her wall that is often the focus of conversation and debate. It’s the alphabet of architecture by British designer, Steven Wildish and it’s just one of many such alphabet posters he’s designed. So, just for fun, I thought you might like and see how many movies you can guess in these two alphabet posters.

Alphabet of movies

I didn’t do that well with this one, scoring just 10 on my first attempt. How many can you guess? I’ll give you a small clue, there are a few James Bond films in there and that proved difficult for me. I was never really a fan of 007. His cars are cool, and the ladies in his life are fine, but there’s only so many times I can forgive a character for completely changing.

If action movies aren’t your thing then maybe you’ll do better guessing the alphabet of romantic comedies?

Alphabet of movies

I’m not a huge fan of ‘rom-coms’ and as a result I was only able to identify 3! I tend to avoid films in this genre, or any movies that star Jennifer Anniston or Drew Barrymore (same same, right?).

Wildish has done other movie alphabets with his lists including sci-fi movies, war movies, horror films, comedies, and superheroes.

If you want to see the answers, why not test your knowledge first, then check in the comments for the answers and see how many you got right. Can you beat 10? Surely you can beat 10!

GeneralThursday, January 1st, 2015, (1:12 am)

Happy New Year 2015

While Christmas feels a little strange in shorts and a t-shirt, I do really like New Year being in the middle of summer. So from the summer of 2015 to wherever you are in the world, Happy New Year everyone!

GeneralThursday, December 25th, 2014, (12:55 pm)

Christmas Card 2014

That pretty much says it all.

Found on the webThursday, December 18th, 2014, (4:05 pm)

I might be a coffee snob. Not in the snooty ‘I only drink single origin beans’ way, but more like I always order a cappuccino and I know just how I like it. There was a time I wasn’t very particular and any old sugary nonsense would do, but living in Melbourne changed that.

Random baristaBack when I was new to Melbourne I innocently (or naively) wandered into a random cafe. It was an independent cafe strewn with hipsters, typical in many respects to the kind of cafe one might expect in this, the ‘world’s most livable city.’ I asked the tattooed and bearded barista for a “mocha I suppose,” then enquired as to what kind of syrups he had. Hazelnut? Cinnamon perhaps? “I like something cinnamony,” I said.

He looked at me in the same way that independent record store clerks used to look at customers who asked for something mainstream. His smile was drenched in disdain and disgust giving a hint to the mockery I was about to be subjected to. In silence he made a theatrical look around the counter, the coffee machine, and out past me into the cafe, then as he wiped his hands on a cloth he said, “Sorry mate, I didn’t realize we’d turned into a fucking Starbucks.”

It was obvious he was having some fun at my expense. He then turned to the menu on the board behind him and he leant across the counter and asked me if I had ever tasted coffee before, or just “something cinnamony.”

“Let’s try this,” he said continuing his theatrical manner and sweeping his extended arm toward the drinks menu on the board. “How about you choose an actual coffee. My advice would be to pick a drink then make that your order so that you can develop a taste for coffee rather than ‘something cinnamony.’ You could have a flat white, latte, cappuccino, or even a mocha, if you really must.”

I’ll confess, I hadn’t taken much notice of the coffee I drank before, as long as it was ‘something cinnamony.’ So I looked at the board then said more in a questioning tone rather than that of an order, “I’ll have a cappuccino?”

“Good choice, a solid choice,” he said as he flung the cloth over his shoulder and sprang from his slouched position. With his back to me he began making my drink and continued talking to me. “I’m sorry for being a dick mate, but come on, you’re not a giggly teenage girl anymore, right.” And right he was, my giggly teenage girl years were behind me! Right then and there in that Melbourne cafe I had thrown them off and become a cappuccino drinking man of the world, even if I had no real idea what a cappuccino actually was.

So I’m not sure that my choice of coffee drink says anything deeply scientific about me, but Seattle-based coffee-lover and coffee-related infographicist (is that even a thing or did I just make that up?), Ryoko Iwata, suggests that it might. Her infographic pegs me as an obsessive, controlling, and creative type of person who gets bored with unimaginative people. According to her, those traits are perhaps redeemed by the fact that, as a cappuccino drinker, I am also honest and someone who chooses excellent friends.

Curiously Iwata makes no mention of the obsessive controlling aspects of the typical cappuccino drinker in a later infographic on her website entitled ‘What your date’s coffee order reveals.’ In that graphic I’m seen as a loving and caring person who puts a lot of work into my relationship.

I’ll plead the fifth on this subject for fear of incriminating myself or inviting the protests of disgruntled ex-girlfriends who might turn the comments into an embarrassing show down. But I’m curious, what does your coffee order reveal about you?

What does your coffee order say about you?

Ryoko Iwata’s I love coffee infographics
What your date’s coffee order reveals
What your coffee order says about you
What does your cup of tea say about you?

GeneralTuesday, December 9th, 2014, (4:33 pm)

I’m heading back to Australia in a few days, so just for fun I’m sharing this video with you. If you’ve got 3 minutes to spare, I’m sure it’ll make you smile.

Councillor Robert Garland from Queensland is a politician who doesn’t like to crow like so many politicians we could all think of. However, Garland, who represents Division 8 of the Fraser Coast Regional Council, can crow very well indeed. He can also chirp like a budgerigar, coo like a pigeon, and occasionally let out a “ripper” of a Kokuboro squark.

Along with his son Daniel, Garland has been imitating bird noises for years. “I just like noises, and music, and the music of birds,” he says in a short film from Director Tim Marshall.

As the councillor for education and training in the Fraser Coast Regional Council, Garland is known as a ‘jovial’ representative. That comes across in the film that I first saw last year at Melbourne’s Shadow Electric open air cinema. Back then it delighted the packed cinema that often show wacky and ‘off the wall’ shorts before the main feature of the night.

Garland said the footage for the film was shot about 3 years prior to it’s release, but he was very pleased with the way it turned out. “It’s all a bit of fun. At the end of the day if you can’t have a laugh at yourself then who can you have laugh at?”

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