• Wow. So much for paying professionals…

    Man, I’ve dealt with some BS in my near decade of renting, but this has pushed me over the edge. Did I say agencies are better than private landlords? Whoops. I take that back.

    That’s twice now the property manager has been an absolute twat upon moving out.

    Last time around, dealing with them was a breeze throughout the entire tenancy … until our last afternoon. It was literally the day before we flew out of the country, leaving for 6 months. We waited, shivering, in our garage, as the rain started coming down, for the PM to show up for final inspection. Numerous calls to his phone went unanswered. Finally we gave up, placed the keys in the house and left. First thing in the morning, he starts trying to get in touch asking what happened – useless much? No, we are literally leaving the country TONIGHT, we do not have time to come back for a walkthrough – you will have to do it without us. We didn’t get our bond back until we returned to NZ, either – he never sent through the paperwork to me and I had to chase him for it when we came back to the country.

    This time around, it was with an even bigger (and thus, ostensibly more professional) agency. Alas, they turned out to be douchebags pretty early on, and every time I thought it couldn’t get worse, it kept building until move-out. These guys instruct you to drop off the keys at the office, and then do the final inspection on their own rather than going through the house with you in person. Two days later we heard from them – outlining an absolute litany of basic complaints about cleaning. (The legal requirement is to leave a property ‘reasonably clean and tidy’, which translated to a pretty grey area. However, I can tell you never had an issue at ANY of the many places we’ve lived. We know how to mop a floor and scrub a shower.) They also conveniently ‘forgot’ that they had sold us the fridge upon move-in (for owner had wanted to get rid of it, probably as it was getting older) and more or less accused us of stealing it. Oh, and I’m not even going to go into the dramas they caused in trying to force us to move out earlier than our planned date.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about power, and the imbalance of it in the renting market. I’ve already been incredibly stressed out for months on end, and this whole situation with the house has basically doubled my stress levels since the start of the year. I made the decision early on that my priority was getting the hell out of here with as little headache as possible, while knowing the agency was highly likely to make it a hassle based on their behaviour to date.

    So often it’s a question of where you can afford the time/money to pursue a conflict. For example, they insisted on going ahead with hiring a cleaner anyway (end result: splitting the bill). As another example: it’s actually unlawful to have a clause in a lease requiring carpet cleaning at the end of the tenancy. However you’ll find these in many, many contracts. I know I have, and gone along with it because in a tight market it’s a miracle if you can get approved for a place at all.

    And for bigger stuff … Do you really want to jeopardise your chances of ever getting another place to live, if you take something to the Tenancy Tribunal and have that associated with your name as public record (no matter what the result)?

    Cannot wait to be off the renting hamster wheel.

  • So, I just learned something really shitty…

    The Disputes Tribunal – essentially small claims court – cannot deal with cases where “someone knows they should do something but simply refuses to (for example, to chase a debt that someone agrees they owe you)”.

    Why this sucks: Since T quit Toxic Job, we have been waiting to be reimbursed a couple hundred dollars in expenses. These were incurred on behalf of the company on our personal credit card shortly before he left.

    It has now been over four months. We have been constantly following up. There are two bosses; let’s call them Aaron and Ant. Aaron is the sane, decent, normal one, and who unfortunately is/was also the less hands-on one. After initially contacting Ant, T has mostly been emailing Aaron lately – since he is infinitely more reasonable – and Aaron has been apologetic and understanding. Though, let it be observed, not to the point of ACTIONING THE REIMBURSEMENT.

    Based on the vibe T is getting from him, and the fact that T’s ex-colleague/buddy (we’ll call him Rich) just interviewed for a job at the competition, it seems like shit is going down over there. Rich is young, a small town boy, a bit of a pushover really, who has put up with Ant for months. So for him to have finally had enough and be looking elsewhere, it must be bad. (On the plus side, since he got the new job and starts in January, it’ll mean no more talk about Toxic Job when he comes around to visit in the future. That was the worst part about the friendship IMO – dwelling on all that drama.)

    I have financially written off that money, but I cannot let it go emotionally (though I really should for sanity’s sake) and I refuse to give up on the principle (and T is fully in agreement on that count). Being an asshole and driving away all your staff is one thing; cheating them out of money that they are owed is another.

    I’d had the idea in the back of my mind that Disputes Tribunal would be the next step, but apparently it won’t be. The fact that money is owed is not actually in dispute.

    I know that unpaid wages would fall under the Employment Relations Authority; I’m assuming money owed for reimbursements would probably be in the same boat. Need to look into this further, but it’s a headache I really do not need right now.

    Allrighty, vent over. Any advice gratefully received.

  • The plight of the ‘banana’ (Yellow on the outside. White on the inside)

    When you go to a Chinese restaurant, the staff speak to you in their language and look disappointed when you can only offer a small shrug and a ‘sorry’. They may offer you forks, and no doubt take note of the fact your white partner uses chopsticks a million times more deftly than you do.

    When an elderly Asian person tries to communicate with the bus driver, and fails, the driver casts a meaningful look back at you over his shoulder, and all you can do is offer a small shrug and a ‘sorry’.

    When an Asian person comes up to you on the street and (presumably) tries to ask you for directions in their language, and all you can do is offer a small shrug and a ‘sorry’.

    When people at work ask if you speak any other languages, clearly hoping that you do, and all you can do is offer a small shrug and a ‘sorry’.

    When a white security guard says ‘ni hao’ to you as you walk past, and you don’t know how best to respond.

    When people learn your Chinese/legal name and gush about how beautiful it is, and you don’t know how best to respond.

    When you open your mouth and someone hearing you for the first time expresses surprise at your total lack of an accent, and you don’t know how best to respond.

    I’ve had too many of these incidents happen too close together of late, and I’m tired of feeling apologetic all the damn time. It’s my own problem to deal with, I know; it’s not about malice, it’s about what’s going on inside me and my own identity issues.

    I am Chinese by heritage, born in Malaysia, raised in New Zealand. I know more Malay words than I do Chinese, and I am pretty sure I know even more Maori words in total. English is the language we spoke at home – my parents grew up speaking different dialects – and while my dad briefly tried to teach me Mandarin once, I had neither the desire nor inclination to succeed. If it weren’t for, I suppose, external forces, I wouldn’t even care. Maybe in my dotage, like my mother, I’ll feel the urge to reconnect with my birthright and start taking Mandarin classes – but for now, it’s just not on my radar. But being non white in an overwhelmingly white industry makes me feel like I need to be some sort of ambassador or representative at times. But I’m not. I’m an impostor.

    I am surrounded by white people for the vast majority of my waking hours. At work. At home. In the media I consume. Sometimes, despite the fact I see myself every day in the mirror, I think I actually forget I’m not white too.

  • How not to roll out an integrated ticketing bus system

    Thought Hop was going to be the saviour of Auckland’s abysmal public transport? Yeah, I’d hoped so too. But it has proved in my experience an undeniable failure.

    First, Snapper came to Auckland. (I’m still not quite sure what the point of it is. I get that it powers the Hop bus card system, but as for using Snapper at shops? Don’t we already have eftpos and credit cards?) Then right on its heels, there came murmurs of something called Hop. Nobody knew what on earth it was. As posters went up,a vague YouTube video emerged and an almost equally vague news story was printed, we came to learn that it was the start of an integrated public transport system.

    Pity about the communication. What we really needed were some short, clear FAQs, not teasers. I believe their Comms person was quoted as saying there had been plenty of confusion on “message boards” and the team needed to clear it up. No shit. Pity, again, that it took them weeks to get on social media and rectify the damage that had already been done.

    Okay, so the launch was a disaster. What about the execution?

    Last weekend I went down to Britomart on my lunch break to do three things. A) Get my Hop card. B) Transfer my balance from my Go Rider card onto it. C) Top up my new Hop card at the same time.

    (Hint – I did not accomplish all of the above.)

    As soon as I reached the front of the line, their systems went down. Okay, I can kind of sympathise; I know what it’s like to work with slow, unreliable and outdated technology on a daily basis. But they have no idea when it’s going to be back? And there is NOWHERE ELSE in the CBD where we can get a balance transfer?

    Okay, fine. I only have one ride left to transfer anyway; I’ll eat the $1.50 cost. Just put my 10 new rides on and let me be done with it.

    What’s that? You don’t take Visa? What is this, 1911? I have always used my credit card to top up my bus card- this better not be a sign of things to come (suppose I’ll find out when I next top up my card). Off I trot to the ATM, where I have to withdraw $20 as I can’t take out $15.

    I march back up to the front of the line approximately three minutes later. She doesn’t give me my change. Turns out she put on $20 credit, instead of 10 rides at $15. Cue more delays as she sorts out the mess.

    I get back to the office and decide to check online where my nearest Hop retailer is so I can top up the following week. I am even more enraged, if possible, to read this:

    Note: Britomart, Newmarket and New Lynn Transport Centres now accept credit card payments.

    No, it effing well did not. DON’T LIE TO ME.

    And I’m pretty close to full on meltdown to find there is only one Hop agent anywhere near my house and it’s the opposite direction from my bus stop/new office.

    Later on it turns out it’s fine; there are plenty of Snapper retailers around that just aren’t listed on the Hop site yet.

    But that’s not the end of it. I went back to Britomart this weekend to top up. I did so using my Visa. But by today, that balance was still “pending”, leaving me with no choice but to pay cash to get to work. Also, when I attempted to put more rides on my card at St Lukes Lotto, I was told that rides can no longer be purchased at all, only e-money. Obviously Hop is not only failing to communicate with customers, but with retailers – but when you’re a monopoly, who cares about either? I’ve tried to communicate with Hop a few times on Twitter to clarify certain issues but have not found them particularly helpful or forthcoming. (As for why I’m sticking with rides, not e-money, it’s because all factors being equal, why would I use the method which charges me 25c for every topup?)

    What a clusterf***. Typical Auckland.

    UPDATE: Apparently only a certain booth at Britomart accepts CC payments. Oh, and you can’t have more than 20 rides on your Hop card at the time. More WTF-ery.

  • Hurrah! We’re not going to be homeless

    I won’t lie. I’m a worrywart and an overreactor. So despite a calm facade, I was harbouring fears in the back of my mind that we would end up homeless and living in a tent.

    Thankfully, it’s not to be. T and I are moving to Epsom, of all places (one of the most affluent suburbs in the city) to a cute little ground floor apartment at the bottom of a mansion. Yes, the one with the super awkward kitchen I tweeted about.

    We don’t have to pay rent for our last week here, so we’re moving at the end of the week (and will probably come back to sort out loose ends/clean at some point). The place we’re moving to is vacant and the landlord wanted someone to move in ASAP, so that worked out rather well.

    Things with our new home did NOT get off to a good start, however. I called the LL to tell him we were keen. He didn’t remember us.

    Then we got there, and he wanted the bond in cash. I’ve never come across that before – normally you sign the paperwork and arrange to pay the bond plus any advance rent through bank deposit (and get irritating calls from them until the money finally goes through two days later, because they’re always with a different bank entirely).

    So off we go to find an ATM. We end up in Newmarket, 10 minutes later, and race to the nearest cash machine. It rejects my card.

    Around the corner, we find one of my bank’s ATMs. I jump out of the car, he screeches away and loops around the block while this ATM tells me that my PIN number is wrong. Even though it’s not. Three tries later and I’m locked out of my account. And if that wasn’t already awesome enough, it SWALLOWS MY CARD to boot. Bye bye all hopes of withdrawing cash.

    That was Saturday, and I still can’t laugh about it yet.

    (ETA: Yes, he did write us a receipt for the money!)

  • This is why I like to plan things out…

    Here’s a quick recap of our Sunday (Valentine’s Day):

    We decided to go to the movies, specifically, the Sylvia Park cinemas because they have the most comfortable seats (T is not a small guy), plus we had vouchers for $12 tickets there. Having left the house in a rush, we didn’t know what time anything was showing, and it turned out Sherlock Holmes wasn’t on for another four hours.

    We drove to town, got to the Angus Steak House, only to find they didn’t do lunches on weekends.

    We walked up to SkyCity. Turns out their yum cha buffet isn’t a buffet anymore.

    We walked down to Queen St, because I remembered the kebab chain was advertising $5 kebabs. Except they weren’t doing that today.

    In the end, we settled on a Chinese style barbecue buffet in the Midcity complex,where you pick out the raw ingredients (along with some typical fried goodies like  spring rolls to nibble on) and cook  them yourself on a gas cooker (what a novelty!) It wasn’t till I went to pay that I saw how low their food hygiene rating was. Eeek…

  • A little vent

    1. Heinous flatmate texted a few weeks ago to ask for my bank details so he could start paying me back what he owes. Only about three months too late! (You may or may not recall that he owes me around $900 – a combination of bills he fell behind on at our old place, plus damages and cleaning. Trust me, I knew he was a filthy pig, but he REALLY pulled out all the stops when it came time to move. I can’t even think about it – it’s too foul to recall.)

    It’s been maybe a month now. How much have I received from him? Zilch. Nada. Nothing. I was tempted to send him abusive messages on Facebook, but I refrained. Not worth my time.

    2. Shortly after we moved and I finished with uni, I decided to pick my guitar back up after three years of neglect. I bought new strings and put them on…and then I got to the high E, and guess what? I literally COULDN’T restring it, because the entire effing bridge saddle was missing. Just gone, like that. Along with the screw. Don’t ask me how he did it, but he did. (And yes, I know it was him, because he played it. Until he broke a string and never replaced it, and now I know why!)

    3. After tossing around the C word, indulging in a bout of angry crying, and some intense surfing of the net – in which I convinced myself I’d have to order parts from overseas for a small fortune – I trotted off to Musicworks, where I originally bought my amp and guitar. A dude with massive tunnels in his ears took my details and told me they would get the part shipped in. Two weeks passed, and nothing. I called them. Another guy said they’d call back. They didn’t. I physically went in to see them.

    “They’re on their way. They’ll be here soon. We’ve got your details here so we’ll give you a call.”

    All up, it’s been well over a month, so soon better mean WITHIN THE WEEK! I may not be a serious muso, and I may not even be able to play standing up, but I’m still a paying customer, dammit.

  • I may seem rude, but I’d be a lot ruder if I was forced to talk to you

    I get to see some great specimens of humanity at my house. For example, the three girls who came by last night to get drunk and dirty with my flatmates. I honestly couldn’t tell you what they looked like – that’s how much makeup was on their faces. Hair? Dyed and straightened to the point of follicular death. Skintight outfits, teetering stilettos. I don’t know how old they are, but T says some of them are as young as 15.

    One of them actually shares my name and tried to strike up a conversation with me a couple of times; I think she wants to be friends. But as much of a bitch as I am in private, I can’t bring myself to tell someone to their face that I have no respect for schoolage girls who dress and act like complete slappers.

    And the scary Barbie blonde one? Somehow has us caught up in her ex-boyfriend dramas. Not only is he calling and harassing her, he called our landline while she was here. Instead of ignoring him, she kept texting him back, you know, to tell him to leave her alone. I told her to block his number. She liked that idea, but I know for sure she won’t.

    Like me, T doesn’t have much patience for such BS, and tried to tell her that there’s no way she’ll find a “good guy” (not that she believes any exist) by getting dressed up, going around to guys’ houses, getting wasted and screwing them. Words, deaf ears. You know the drill.

    It makes me sad to see this – they’re so young. It also makes me glad to have found T: you never know, I could have turned into one of them by now.

    Today’s outfit:

    I planned to wear a waist belt to cinch the top in, but it only made me look lumpy and bumpy. Instead, I wore my medieval cross necklace and lacy knit shrug. Oh, and this is my new ingenious method of getting the whole outfit in one shot.

  • An eye for a face

    Some people never forget a face.

    I not only have a terrible memory for names, I’m seriously crippled when it comes to recalling faces. I did this test for prosopagnosia (inability to recognise faces) and scored somewhere in the middle, but quite frankly that means diddly squat to me.

    See, I was assigned to cover a live demonstration the other week, and I briefly met the videographer who I’d be working with the day beforehand. We made arrangements to meet up, and on the next day, as I made my way to the office, I nearly walked into a man on the footpath. I stopped. He stopped. We looked at each other. He had a camera on and was sort of the same age and colouring as the video guy. But for the life of me, I couldn’t remember what he looked like, and if this was the guy. I was about to say something to him, and thankfully stopped myself. I carried on to my work building, and I swear by the time I got there I was convinced I’d just snubbed the videographer and wanted to run back and apologise.

    Then I got a call from him. He was waiting in the carpark. And you know what, he didn’t even look all that much like the guy I nearly ran down.

    I. Am. Hopeless.