Saturday, 24 May 2008


I've spent the last couple of months trying to be lazy. Had it not been for British Airways messing up my flight to San Francisco back in April, then my flat flooding when I got back, and then this month Abbey sensationally screwing up the renewal of my mortgage, then I would have had very little to do. As it is, I've been rushed off my feet complaining about various things, banging my head against brick walls and generally getting up people's noses. The mortgage STILL isn't sorted out, and is in fact the fault of the solicitor, Pannone, who have lost EVERY piece of information I've sent them in the past 4 weeks. Terrible service, and they were quite rude to me in an email.

The management company which looks after the building I live in also sent me a couple of unpleasant emails whilst giving me an awful service. British Airways have given me back my money now, but they are extremely unhelpful whilst trying to reclaim.

My phone company, O2, seemed to be the best service I've received in a long time. I broke my phone on Monday at the gym, and had it replaced on Tuesday morning by courier. Mind you, I have had to pay for this, and my bills are frankly huge. Close to £100 a month so far (only had the phone 2 months).

Whilst chatting about this phenomenon to friends a very worrying trend showed up for me. Terminal 5, where my fated flight left from, is actually run by BAA, not British Airways. BAA is run by a company named Ferrovial, who runs the public transport in Spain. They aren't that good.

Abbey National used to be a great little building society, until it was bought by Santander a few years back. Santander are a big bank based in... Spain.

The solicitors, Pannone, are not pronounced "Pan-own" as you might expect from reading it, but "Pan-oh-ni". Sounds a bit suspect to me, probably Italian, but certainly southern european.

And O2? Well, they were bought by Telefonica, who provides Spain's public telephone system, and whilst I lived in Barcelona, ripped me off consistently for months. I moved out and ran away from the problem rather than trying to get the phone cut off. I couldn't deal with them in any language. If I ever go back there I fully expect the Mossos D'Esquadra to beat me to a pulp before I get out of the airport.

Spain's economy has relied heavily on construction for a number of years now, ever since Franco decided that Marbella and the rest of the south coast should be dedicated to tourism. It kind of took hold and they carried on building until... well, until they had so many places to stay and live that they didn't need any more. At this point, even a surplus of one causes the price point to drop exponentially. This is basic economics. Read "The Logic of Life" if you need a better explanation.

Spain has needed to branch out and invest in other areas for some time, and now it seems to have found somewhere willing to take it's money. Unfortunately, it's Britain. Unfortunately, the Spanish are the best providers of fun in the known world, but the worst providers of service. You can sit in a cafe in Barcelona for over an hour BEFORE you get served. This is expected over there. Over here, it's not. Living in Barcelona you get perks like weeks of sunshine all year round, cheap everything, street parties and a beach. Living in the UK, you do not.

No wonder I've been missing Spain recently. I'm getting Spanish service, but crappy English weather and prices. Not sure how this happened, but I'm seriously considering going back the other way - maybe the service wouldn't be much better, but at least I could take my trousers off and forget about it. Isn't that always the best way?


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