It’s just shy a week since we arrived in Australia and already we have had a series of unfortuante events that are complicating our attempts at getting established here. The most unfortunate was the accident Mike was in just a few days ago. Roundabouts abound here in Australia and this particular intersection complicated it by adding light signals as well. Sometimes you come to the roundabout and the signal is ‘off.’ these are the best times to enter the intersection because we know what to do. However, when the signal is ‘on,’ it works much like a normal intersection except that you have to mind the roundabout at the same time. So, the lights will go Red to Yellow and flashing Yellow to Red. In between these patterns there are times when they will go entirely ‘off.’ One scenario is red to yellow to off.
On this day, this was the scenario Mike encountered. He was behind other vehicles so when the light went to yellow, those cars entered the interesection, as did every other car from each other direction. Mike, not aware that oncoming traffic was moving, also entered the intersection following the vehicles ahead of him. Mike hit the vehicle of a Russian woman on her way to class, scraping her passenger side pretty bad and smashing our driver side front end (headlamp, turn signal, etc). The funny part was that Mike was on his way to register the vehicle and get insurance when the accident happened. Now, we are in a holding pattern here in Sydney until the matter is resolved or at least an estimate is provided and we know how to pay for damages. 😦
Other less series but nonetheless unfortunate are a few financial situations. Apparently my escrow cost went up this year so my monthly mortgage payment went up as well. I do everything electronically and hence did not notice the change in my monthly payment until now. Yesterday I found out the mortgage company does not apply partial payments so I am getting warnings about my ‘missed’ payment and am being assessed a late fee of $61 for not paying on time. Do all mortgage companies do this? Why wouldn’t they take partial payments? Escrow is not part of my loan so why didn’t the escrow company handle the difference in debt? The way this is being handled does not seem right to me. Also, there is no easy way for me to contact my mortgage company from over seas to investigate this charge. I called once and I was forced into their Voice system with endless prompts and the telling of information to me that I was not interested in and all at a hefty price to me. When I finally got to speak to a representative, it was useless unless I wanted to make a payment by phone. The representative gave me another 1800 number to call to sort out the late fee. argh! I did find a way to email customer service, but all i got back so far was a template response saying, if you are late paying, you get a late fee. doh!
the next financial event came this morning from my credit card company. apparently, despite 3 payments this month (one in full, meeting the ‘no finance charge’ deadline and statement balance of the previous month) and two additional to help offset the February statement that isn’t due until mid-March, I am being assessed a late fee. ??? I also incured a finance charge off the last payment because the bank did not post the payment until 3 days past the deadline. argh!!! Fortunately, I have experience dealing with this bank via email and their customer service people have been really good at helping me sort out things like this in the past. *crosses fingers*
unfortunate event #4: It looks like my Audi has a flat tire. The tires are still pretty new and we drove it to the airport in seattle where when I left it, everything looked fine. My friend tells me that’s the last time it was driven so it must be a coincidence. 😦 Hopefully it only needs a patch. Mike and I just went through this with our van where we were not that lucky and had to buy another new tire after already having purchased 4 new ones.
#5: turns out we can’t register a vehicle in Australia without an address. hmmm, post offices don’t offer mail forwarding for PO Boxes and it’s a bit much to assume a residence with any of our new friends so what do we do? Fortunately, they say we can have a friend write a letter saying we are staying with them, but that means any notices will go to their home…hmmm…ditto for opening an account at a bank.
it might be time for me to apply for a skilled workers visa to offset the cost to stay here and create a more permanent address for ourselves somewhere. Downside: melbourne and sydney are 8 hours apart. Grampians and Blue Mountains are ~12.
sometimes, even though the world can feel so small, it’s times like these when it feels really big.