Category Archives: Organizations

Westpac FAIL

Mood: Unimpressed

Oh Westpac, how you have FAILED me.

At the end of May, J and I went into a Westpac branch to open a joint account. Now that we are living together, a joint account was deemed necessary to pool our weekly contributions towards all the bills and other incidentals. Prior to opening the account, J and I had long discussions about which bank we would open the account with; J is long term Westpac customer, while I have been using NAB for about 15 years.

In the end, as I was getting a bit dissatisfied with NAB, we decided to go with Westpac.

So one drizzly Saturday morning, we took ourselves to the Chatswood branch of Westpac and found a helpful cheery customer service person to help us open our account. As J is an existing Westpac customer, it took no time at all to verify his details. The last Westpac account I held was closed nearly 20 years ago, and I knew Westpac would need to verify my details, so I made sure I brought many forms of identification on the day.

Sure enough, I was asked to produce my drivers licence, my Medicare card, and one other form of ID (I think I gave them my NAB credit card). I met all the proof of identity requirements, and our account was opened on the spot. We received a letter of confirmation with our Branch and Account numbers, which also stated that we would be receiving our debit cards within 5 working days by post.

At this point, I should mention that just after our account was opened, the computers in the bank branch suffered a meltdown. We waited and waited for the computers to come back online, but in the end, the customer service person assured us that all was taken care of and she had everything she needed to process our debit card application. We said we would wait for a bit longer, but she reassured us that there was no need, and we should shortly receive our cards in the mail.

Fast forward to yesterday, and our cards still had not arrived. We have both been putting money into the account, but without a debit card, we have not been able to use the cash to buy our groceries or pay our bills. So I called Westpac today to find out where our cards were, only to find that our application for the debit cards has been blocked, because I somehow did not satisfy the identify verification process.

Two painful phone conversations later with one apologetic but slightly incompetent person and one completely unsympathetic and completely incompetent person, I was told the matter would be looked into more closely by someone at the branch who knew what they were doing and I would receive a call later today. The second person (the unsympathetic and incompetent one) went so far as to imply that I was being hysterical for no reason ("it’s only been 10 days, so it’s really not that late"); the same person who readily admitted at the start of the conversation that she does not open accounts and is therefore not responsible for helping me, but she would try and find someone who could.

A few minutes ago, I got a call from Joe from the Chatswood branch. He told me that he had fixed up the problem by taking the block off our account and the application is now being processed. The cards should arrive within the next 2 days. When I asked why there was a block in the first place, and why we weren’t informed of the situation, he blamed the fiasco on "a computer glitch".

Westpac, you have failed to impress me. I was thinking of switching my banking requirements over to you, but now I’ll think twice before I make the big move. I just hope we see the debit cards in the mail soon.


Not Happy, Windows Live!!!

Mood: Miffed

I hate what Windows Live have done with our Spaces.

Without consultation, they made what they thought were some improvements. Admittedly, some are fairly minor, but what they’ve done with the Photos is inexcusable.

When people want to view my photo albums, they are taken away from my blog to a new place. Once there, if they want to come back to the blog, it is a very confusing and arduous task to get back to my blog.

Not only that, but I have now lost control of the sequencing order of my photos in my albums. I’m afraid to upload anything new, as I can’t edit my existing albums and I just don’t trust what will happen when I upload new photos. I upload the photos in the order I do for specific reasons, not for Windows Live to reorder them and then block me from rearranging them.

Please, if Windows Live people are reading this, please give me the option of going back to the old way, because some of your new improvements suck!!!

WYD08 – A Week of Pope & Hope

Mood: Pilgrim Dodging

For the past week or so, Sydney has been gearing up for the inaugural visit from His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for the World Youth Day Sydney 2008 celebrations. The festivities officially commenced on Tuesday 15 July, culminating in a Final Mass to be celebrated by the Pope on Sunday at the Randwick Racecourse.

Since the middle of last week, Sydneysiders have been watching with bemusement the arrival of pilgrims from all over the country and the world. Some of the key stats gleaned from the official website are listed below:

* Up to 225,000 registered pilgrims are expected to take part in WYD08 events each day, including 125,000 international visitors.
* 100,000 Australian pilgrims are expected, including 40,000 from greater Sydney.
* An estimated 2,000 clergy and 700 Cardinals and Bishops will be present.
* 3.5 million meals will be served to pilgrims.
* 100,000 will sleep in 700 schools and parishes.
* Up to 500,000 people are expected to attend the Final Mass at Randwick Racecourse and Centennial Park (which is open to all).

Significantly, this is the biggest event hosted by Sydney since the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. But unlike the Games, which were held before the horrific attacks of 9/11, the security measures around Sydney are the tightest ever seen in the city – even more so than during APEC in September last year.

Security measures aside, the ever wise, oh so popular NSW Premier Morris Iemma reassured Sydneysiders that everything would be just like it was during the Olympics – our city would be filled with a happy party spirit and there would be no issues getting around using our wonderful public transport system. (Has anyone noticed the sarcasm dripping off the screen yet?)

And whilst I enjoy a party as much as any other partygoer does, I will be very glad when the WYD08 festivities end on Sunday and the pilgrims leave Sydney for whence they came.

I can’t quite put my finger on why I’m so grouchy towards the event and the people who have converged on Sydney for the event, but I just want to scream "go home" to every person decked out from head to toe in their official WYD08 merchandise. My levels of tolerance are at an all time low (I’m not 100% at the moment physically, physiologically or psychologically), and these shiny happy people irk me.

Yesterday was the last straw. So far this week, I have waited a lot longer for a bus to pick up passengers at my bus stop, because no matter what time I finished work, all the buses that would normally take me home would be packed and consequently fly by without stopping. Mornings were only slightly better, but ever so slightly.

Yesterday morning, I boarded a bus to go to work, and found, to my amazement, a seat near the front of the bus that was unoccupied. I stopped and waited for another passenger to sit (this male pilgrim was standing closer to the seat and was laden with WYD paraphernalia) and after a few seconds, it was evident that he wasn’t going to sit down, so I gladly took up residence. I had been sitting for no later than 10 seconds when my seat buddy, a female pilgrim decided to shift her weight from her seat on to me. Yes, that’s right, she wriggled around and ended up in my lap.

I was a bit stunned by this, so I tried to push her off my lap. She pushed herself further into me, so I pushed back against her. She kept wriggling to get back into my lap, but time and time again, I pushed her off. After what seemed like an eternity of struggling against her weight, she finally moved enough to not be sitting in my lap, but that still didn’t stop her from using me as her cushion as she then sprawled over me for the rest of the 15 minute bus trip.

So why did she climb into my lap? She was making room on her seat for her bag.

And the kicker? As we were nearing the end of our trip, she finally took up her seat again, only to turn to me and stare at me with a look of complete disgust on her face. I have no idea what that was for – by that point, Jackson the iPod was on so loud I’m sure the bus heard Fergie sing "Labels or Love".

Having sounded very cynical thus far, I suppose I was a little excited when the Pope’s motorcade pooped past my work building yesterday morning. But I’d be more excited by next week, when the bulk of the pilgrims would be leaving our shores!

Acts of Kindness

Mood: Philanthropic

I have always thought of myself as a charitable person. I always buy a bandanna on CanTeen’s National Bandanna Day. I boast a small army of Bandage Bears. I have a terrific collection of star wands and star shaped keyrings from Starlight Day and red noses and earrings from Red Nose Day. My apartment always resembles a field of daffodils on Daffodil Day and I have quite a few pins and badges from organisations such as Jeans for Genes, Breast Cancer Australia and Legacy. I have also been collecting silicone bracelets in just about every colour under the sun.

Every few months, I give my wardrobe a thorough clean, and whatever I don’t fit into any more (or I haven’t seen or worn for at least 6 months) and is still in good condition, I donate the clothing to St Vincent de Paul. And I never ever walk past a Salvation Army donations box without putting in a few gold coins.

Since 2000, I decided that these random acts of kindness weren’t enough. So I began donating my time to a few charities at their events. These are just some of them.

The company I work for has a long history with this charity and since 2004, Redkite has been my main charity. Over the years, I have volunteered at the Corporate Quiz nights in both Sydney and Newcastle, and have helped to raise funds for Redkite through other company functions at both the corporate and staff levels.

“8 years ago, 8 young professionals had 1 big idea: they wanted to throw a fresh, vibrant and memorable party that would make a difference to the lives of children with cancer. This is how the Redkite Y4K Colour Ball was born." The event is aimed at gathering young Sydney professionals for a sophisticated cocktail party to raise funds for kids with cancer. I was part of the committee for a short period this year. In any case, I have now attended 2 balls – last year’s "Green with Envy", this year’s "Solid Gold". I can’t wait until next year’s ball when I’ll be dressed in Electric Blue. (In case you’re wondering, Y4K = "Yes 4 Kids".)

In only its second year, this event attracted over 10,000 participants and helped to raise vital funds for 4 very special charities: Heart Foundation, The Cancer Council, Beyond Blue and Diabetes Australia. The course is a 25km closed loop circuit around Sydney Harbour and crosses 7 bridges: Sydney Harbour Bridge, Pyrmont Bridge, Anzac Bridge, Iron Cove Bridge, Gladesville Bridge, Tarban Creek Bridge and Fig Tree Bridge. I came to hear about this event through the Events arm of my company, who are the organisers of this event. For both years of this event, I have acted as the Village Manager for Brennan Park.

Some of my colleagues are quite fit and healthy and love to test their bodies with strenuous exercise. A group of them competed in the Sydney to Gong race last year and I became involved in the event as the Support Crew, driving my car down to Wollongong in support of the riders. My little yellow Holden Cruze (aka Tom, aka "The Crew’s Cruze") was easily spotted at various locations for the riders to refuel with sports drinks and energy bars. I hope to be able to support the team again this year.

I have just put my hand up to help out on the Day of Difference Foundation’s inaugural Acceptance Day. In December 2003, a terrible accident left two-year-old Sophie Delezio with horrific burns to 85% of her tiny body. It was only due to the magnificent response of medical staff on that day and in the months that followed, that Sophie survived. Sophie became the catalyst for change, the embodiment of which is the Day of Difference Foundation. Sophie has inspired so many and I for one can’t wait to meet this brave and awesome little girl. This should be a terrific event and is something I am definitely looking forward to assisting.

Movember is a charity event held during the month formerly known as November each year. In general, men lack awareness about the very real health issues they face, have a "she’ll be right" attitude and are reluctant to see a doctor about an illness or to go for regular medical checks. The aim of Movember is to change these attitudes, make male health fun by putting the Mo back on the face of fashion and in the process raise some serious funds for key male health issues, including prostate cancer and male depression. Since hearing about Movember 3 years ago, I have been involved in this initiative from a supporter’s perspective. Whilst I have not devoted time to this per se, I have supported the growth of at least 8 mos and look forward to supporting more mos!

Call me a philanthropist! I’m loving it!

Recommended Website: Rave About It

This website was developed by my friend Mark Rimmer and his mate Tim Griffin to provide an enjoyable way in which users can search, rate and discuss what they think of services in their local area and beyond. Here, reviewers can provide in-depth reviews of any type of business – products and services that were physically, mobile or internet based. Check it out!