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August 2009
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October 2009

Not so smart

Top notch customer service once again.

I bought a new phone with a new data plan.  You might think that the new plan should take effect immediately, but for some doubtless very good reason they decided it should only happen at the start of the next billing period.  OK then, whatever, I'm just the customer, right?

Brilliantly, it seems that they also disconnected my old data plan without telling me.  When I questioned this, they did actually have a sensible explanation.  Admittedly it was based on me being too stupid to realize that my old data plan was not very good, but at least it had a certain logic.  But why not start the new data plan on the day I purchased the phone?  Wouldn't that have been easier?

As it turned out, they didn't even manage to start the new plan on the date they had told me it would start. 

Getting rather frustrated by the lack of Internet on my phone, I went to one of their shops to see if the problem could be solved.  Naturally, the first avenue to explore is that the customer has done something stupid (see above), so they went through the setup wizard and kindly changed it (so that it would always connect to their data service rather than asking).  When this failed they decided to check my account and discovered that it was their problem, and soon it was working. 

All round, a first class effort, I thought.

Should I stay or should I go

The SCMP sometimes manages to find interesting stories for the Sunday edition.  Not often, but it does happen.

Today they report the strange tale of a man trapped in Hong Kong because he hasn't paid his tax:

Bill Heywood, a plumbing and piping contractor, was stopped at Hong Kong International Airport last September when he was leaving the city after a three-week holiday. He was told by immigration officials that he could not leave until he had settled his bill for HK$50,782.

He has now been stuck in the city for a year, unable to pay the bill and yet unable to find a job and escape his plight.

Heywood said he wanted to find work to pay for the debt, as he did not have enough cash left at the end of his holiday. "But the Immigration Department staff won't give me a work permit. I have talked to them many times, and each time they said I couldn't get one."

The IRD spokeswoman said "the issue of a work permit is not within the purview of IRD".

To obtain a visa, Heywood was told he must first have a job offer. The Immigration Department said a work permit may be issued to an expatriate applicant if he had no serious criminal record and a degree or otherwise good technical or professional qualifications. And there should be a genuine job vacancy and a confirmed offer for a job that could not be readily taken up by the local workforce.

The best bit comes at the end of the story:

"My friend has now offered me a job," he said. "I wrote to the Immigration Department a couple of weeks ago for permission to work."  The problem now is that Heywood's visa has expired. He was last allowed to stay until April, but Heywood said he did not seek further extensions because he could not afford the fees.

"I asked for a longer extension to sort things out, but they only gave me one month and they charge me HK$160 each time," he said. "I don't have HK$160 to pay each month."

While declining to comment on Heywood's situation, the Immigration Department spokeswoman said people who had breached their conditions of stay, including overstayers, would be repatriated as soon as possible, or, if they were prosecuted for overstaying, after they had served their sentence.

As usual with the SCMP, the story is not well-written.  The intro should say that he has finally found a job but is not allowed to take it and may be deported for over-staying. 

Incidentally, whilst on the subject of Hong Kong's finest English language daily, they appear to have quietly dropped 'Education Post', only a few months after re-designing it and moving it to Friday.

Tea and abalone

Being English, my afternoon is not complete without cucumber sandwiches and a nice cup of tea.

I was horrified, yes horrified, to discover that afternoon tea in the over-priced cafe at the Landmark includes a Sui Mei topped with abalone.  What's that all about, then?

The H1N1 panic continues

Earlier in the year we had the spectacle of people being placed in quarantine for 7 days if they had been on the same plane as someone who had H1N1.  Then all primary schools were closed for the summer break several weeks early.

Where I live we had a solemn announcement that there was a case in another tower of the estate, and the management were stepping up the clean and disinfecting of every known surface.  For a while, the security guards were all forced to wear masks, and (quite splendidly) they even insisted on the lifeguards in the outdoor pool wearing them.  Because you never can be too careful.

Similar nonsense applied to the building where I work, with periodic emails coming around about cases in other offices.  Then we got a case in our actual office.  Can you imagine the panic this caused?  Visitors were warned not to come here, and if they were brave enough to ignore this advice they were instructed to wear masks.  HR have issued stern warnings that we must report any flu-like symptoms, and minions are despatched to clean everything that can be cleaned.

Schools encourage students not to attend if they have those "flu-like symptoms", and then when enough of them heed this advice they close the place down for 7 days.  Since "flu-like symptoms" includes coughs and sore throats and other everyday ailments, this is over-reaction on a grand scale.

And, yes, the government is still wasting its resources collecting health declaration forms at airports (and even at Lo Wu, apparently).  What do they hope to achieve? 

RSS - win one, lose one

Well, well.  I see that Hemlock has fixed his RSS feed, a mere 3 or 4 years after it stopped working.  I'm afraid that I can't be bothered going to a website to read a blog, so I have been missing his words of wisdom for quite some time.

Fumier's RSS feed disappeared some time ago, and I suppose this must be a policy decision (because he also deletes old postings after a month or so).  Still, the old fool usually sends me an email if he makes a reference to this blog, so I guess I'm not missing anything.    

Where's Ronaldo gone? European football on Hong Kong TV

Someone added a comment to my post about Cable TV's HD service asking where Spanish football is available this season (on TV in Hong Kong, that is).  The answer seems to be that it isn't, which seems odd given the amount of money Barcelona and Real Madrid have spent.

So what is available?  Based on my brief research:

  • English Premier League - we all know that Now Sports have these rights
  • Champions League and Europa League (previously UEFA Cup) - Cable TV
  • Italian Serie A - Cable TV and Now Sports
  • German Bundesliga - Cable TV
  • Portugese League - Now Sports
  • Scottish Premier League -  Goal TV (TVB Pay Vision, also available on Now TV)
  • Dutch League -  Goal TV
  • English FA Cup - Probably still on Star Sports (Now Sports)
  • English Football League -  Goal TV

Goal TV also has selected programs from various club channels (including Barcelona, so there's some Spanish football for you).

Updates and corrections are very welcome.