Adventures of a foreigner in the south of Brazil.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Worst of Breed

And once again we wait with bated breath as Banco Itaú is about to defend its title as worst bank ever. To nobody's surprise, they manage this with ease.

But let us begin at the beginning.

I had a transaction to make that required a signature. A third signature, to be precise. After having been there in person already. Difficulty number one: I was not in Brazil, so that required a fax to a foreign number. As it happened, they could not do this. After lots of negotiations, emails back and forth and with some help in Brazil I managed to get the fax (by way of a Brazilian number) and even return a signed copy by fax. Foreign machines can dial into Brazil. Total transaction time, two weeks. Total time I spent, a couple of hours.

Next, just one short day later, I made a credit card purchase, which got blocked. This is something Itaú does quite frequently. Last time (and an account manager earlier) I asked for help and got a phone number of the credit card central. And told them exactly what I thought of that. This time, I hadn't got anything back yet when I decided to just try and call. The phone numbers are, after all, on the back of the credit card: One for metropolitan areas, one for the rest, and one for the exterior, and then two more for the credit card company.

First try, the number for the exterior. That resulted in an automatic message informing me that I was not allowed to use this number from this area.

Second try, the credit card company. Very nice, but couldn't help me, as unblocking this transaction is something the bank would have to do. Fair enough, the bank blocked it. So they connected me to the authorization central of the bank. Who, after asking me for all manners of detail claimed they were not responsible and gave me a set of new numbers to call. Which turned out to be the numbers that are on the back of the credit card. Indeed, the ones that I am forbidden to use from this area, whatever that means. I did even try a second time. They still didn't work. In other words, there is no chance to make this work from outside of Brazil.

Hard to do business with? Impossible to do business with. Excuse me for being a customer.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tucholsky on satire

[...] Does satire exaggerate? Satire must exaggerate, and at its most profound it is unjust. It inflates truth to better show it, and it cannot but follow the word of the gospel: the just will suffer with the unjust.
Translated from Kurt Tucholsky, Was darf die Satire?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Moses on the mountain. An exegesis.

I have just had occasion to read a few verses of Exodus. It was - interesting. I must admit that I did not remember any details from it. But let me quote:

"And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments."

So, with a critical analysis, what does that tell you? Moses spent at least thirty-nine and a half days procrastinating, or he was the worst legasthenic ever.

A few lines further down the legasthenic theory is effectively destroyed, but an interesting new fact is raised:

"...as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God."

Couple that with the carefully described fact that Moses did not drink any water. And ate no bread. Specifically. Now you know where the Jesuits get it from. Now me, I grew up in a wine region. Believe me when I say that I know a few people who had trouble writing fast, and whose face shone, without touching bread or water. Their noses normally glowed, too. But then, that may have been too undignified for Exodus. An aptly named book.

Friday, June 05, 2009

A foggy conspiracy

So here I am, in sunny California. Uhm. Let me be accurate. I am in rainy Yosemite after coming from the foggy, soggy coast. Obviously, the gods of fog and rain are conspiring to make my days off more interesting. (The days I was working were, of course, perfect.) Given the forecast for today all I really need to know now is if bears stay inside in thunderstorms.