Fuck you Virgin Mobile!

Where on this page does it say that you can't get 3G internet access with this company's pre-pay SIM cards? That's right, it doesn't.

I churned over because $5/month for 50 megs would be much cheaper than Vodafone's extortionate $1 minimum per use of the Internet, and $1/minute (despite the fact it's a packet-switched service). But if it becomes $20/month plus the $5/month, which would be the minimum to go on a post-pay plan, that suddenly becomes bloody expensive!

I shall be getting my $20 for the SIM card refunded once I've churned somewhere else. Anyone got any suggestions for pre-pay phone providers who don't rape you for modest data requirements? All I want is to be able to sync my calendar and occasionally do some light browsing while waiting for a bus or whatever.

Real estate dictionary

We're looking at houses and we've encountered plenty of real estate jargon. Here's some handy descriptions to benefit others.

  • cute and cosy: tiny
  • easy maintenance courtyard: concrete courtyard
  • stroll to shops, transport and ameneties: on a major road
  • great for first-home buyers: a lifetime of repairs or knock it down and build your second home on the land (courtesy of Kaz)
  • studio: answer the door, put the kettle on, change channels on the telly and surf the net all without having to get up off the toilet (ripped off from Guardian some years ago)

Got any more to add?

Private health insurance redux

James Hamilton points out that the government has a new site for comparing health funds, kind of on the road to what I described.

The problem is, the information it gives you is extremely limited, and isn't anywhere near comprehensive enough for consumers to make an informed decision. For example, it gives no information about which hospitals you can use with each fund. It's not much point finding a great, cheap health fund that covers everything you want when the only hospitals covered are in Dubbo and you live in Sydney.

The database Choice had (and will have again in July) attempted to resolve this particular problem with some measures of hospital coverage. The problem they have is they're trying to rationalize information from master obfuscators, and in that battle the obfuscators will always win as they have the information advantage.

The government site is a good start, but they need to go much, much further in forcing the insurers to supply information in standardized ways so that direct comparisons can be made.

I'm still waiting on the paperwork from the fund I chose. I suspect they're going to try and give me as little of the one month cooling-off period as possible so that I can't sit down and analyze the fine print. If it hasn't arrived by the end of next week, I'm inclined to cancel it on principle.

Private health insurance is a joke

I've just signed up for private health insurance. The system has changed so remarkably in Australia that you're effectively forced to sign up to one. If I didn't I'd end up paying an extra 1% income tax, which between the two of us would be more than the cost of the insurance.

The problem is, this is possibly the worst Confusopoly around. Everything about the way the insurance companies provide information is geared towards forcing you to select the wrong options and stopping you from making direct comparisons. There are sneaky weasel words, exclusions and options all over the place. There's just no way for the average consumer to make an informed choice!

What's worse is there aren't any decent consumer tools out there to help you make the right choice. In the UK most confusopoly industries have excellent services like uSwitch and MoneySavingExpert that actually allow ordinary consumers to make an informed decision, cutting through the weasel words and fine print to allow direct comparisons.

Choice did a reasonable job but their information is now out-of-date and won't be fixed until July. Having read some of this fine print, I imagine it's a big job.

If our ruling junta are going to force us into health insurance, there needs to be a way for consumers to make an informed choice. I would suggest a government- or industry-funded independent comparison service, perhaps operated by a trusted third-party like Choice, with all insurers required to submit timely information in a pre-defined format so that cross-industry comparisons can be made. It's the only reasonable way forward.

Of course it was all a lot easier when we had a high quality public healthcare system, but Howard and his cronies seem intent on bleeding that once-great institution until we end up with an American-style healthcare system where the poor just die from treatable health problems.

It should be pointed out that Americans pay twice as much for their healthcare, both through the government and with private insurance. The Economist ran a great graph about a year ago showing comparitive costs separated out by private and government expenditure. America's "government" segment of the graph was as big, per-capita, as the UK's. They then paid as much again in private expenditure, while the UK has a very small private healthcare expenditure. Hardly the cost-effective way to do healthcare!

Anti-phone spam list opens

The Australian Do Not Call register has finally opened so you can register to not have phone spam. Of course our government in their infinite wisdom has exempted charities, organizations peddling superstition and political parties. So if you're working in an outbound call centre and phone me on behalf of any of these kinds of organizations after the end of this month, you can expect a torrent of abuse. Yes, you're just trying to make a living, but so are pimps and crack dealers.

Justifiable homicide?

Does having an annoying, very loud ring tone on a phone that rings every five minutes in an open-plan office qualify the owner for removal from the gene pool? Is that qualification increased when he's also on his desk phone while letting it ring for thirty seconds? Repeatedly?

I'll just get my baseball bat.

Real estate agent making threats

I had a couple of phone calls from the real estate agent who got us into this house yesterday. He made vague threats about my web page, which details our troubles with them.

Fortunately the defamation law in NSW has changed in the last couple of years to be less corporation/rich/powerful-friendly. You no longer have to prove "truth and public interest" as a defence, merely "truth". As all I've done is report the truth, and give my own opinion, I don't see any problem.

We're lucky that the lease is actually between us and the landlord directly, so we don't have to deal with this company any more. The landlord himself is a lovely bloke and lives just up the road.

Keith Urban: you're an arsehole

It seems crappy country singer Keith Urban is is sueing oil painter Keith Urban for owning and using the domain name of his own name. Nowhere on his site does painter Urban claim to be a country singer, alcoholic or married to a redhead.

This is the thing about these high profile wankers sueing. If they asked nicely, they could probably come to some arrangement. For example, put a prominent link on the front page pointing to the other Keith Urban's site, for people looking for the lousy alcoholic country singer. Instead, they start out with legal letters.

So warbling country loser Keith Urban, you're an arsehole.

Oh and if you're a somehow more famous Rumble, take this as a warning. Legal letters will get you nowhere.