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The Curmudgeon

The curmudgeon is a miserable sod. He likes to have a moan. He tackles subjects which many foreigners living in Spain agree with but are too polite to say anything.

How to watch British TV in Spain in 2024 and beyond
Saturday, April 13, 2024

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I first moved to Spain over 15 years ago, you could watch UK TV to your heart’s content. And it was free. All you needed was a satellite dish pointed at the Astra B satellite and a receiver next to your TV set. There was no licence fee payable.

 

No licence fee

And that was the problem! The BBC didn’t like the fact that up to one million British people living in Spain were effectively licence fee dodgers. That is still a criminal offence in the UK, by the way.

So, in around 2004 they stopped making their service available via Astra B, leaving British immigrants who wished to watch UK channels without a service.

Since this is a huge market, companies sought ways around it. Streaming to a computer, laptop or tablet or even a mobile phone was a possibility, a pay service.

Other possibilities emerged. One company, Icecrypt, found that there was a small transmitter over Rota (Cádiz) where the US military have an important base, and sold a package including router for access to a restricted number of channels.

I signed up for that and for years tolerated the somewhat inadequate system up to last week, when that too was switched off (4 April 2024). The company which sold me and countless others this system, Lemm Electronica of Ronda, are not interested in helping us out. (In the UK, the retailer is liable, of course.)

It’s not really worth the hassle of pursuing Lemm, so they’ll get away with it. It would have been nice if they had at least let us know that this problem was about to occur. So, it looks like we’re on our own.

Since 4 April, the “airwaves” have been buzzing with suggestions from British punters who have found a solution. At least here in Andalucía.

My interlocutors have come up with useful suggestions, although they all cost money. Fair enough; we had to pay a licence fee in the UK back in the day. Thanks to Susan (Benaoján), Carolyn (Montejaque), Nick Flynn (Ronda), Elaine (Jimera de Líbar), Jill  (Montejaque), Freida Maybury (Ronda), Paul Whitelock (Ronda) and Julie Wilkinson (Cortes de la Frontera) for their useful contributions.

 

Jill from Montejaque sent this link, which is well worth a read: https://www.theportugalnews.com/news/2024-04-08/bbc-switches-off-satellite-signal-whats-next/87701

 

Julie Wilkinson from Cortes de la Frontera wrote: “If you have decent internet coverage, you can contract IPTV. I have a Nokia streaming box that connects to my WiFi at home and I installed the SmartSTB app (my provider charges 20€/mth and I get 100s of channels, including Sky channels for films etc.”

 

 

 

 

 

Elaine Gilfillan from Jimera de Libar uses a company called TeeVeeing for UK channels. “ I also get some French, German, etc. (I pay) 9.99€/month, no VPN required just an internet connection.”

 

Freida Maybury from Ronda: “I pay 25 a year for my VPN and 120 a year for all my TV, movies, music, etc … all languages.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nick Flynn from Llano de la Cruz has unearthed an English guy in San Luis de Sabinillas (near Estepona) who can provide a pre-loaded Amazon Firestick for 110€ with no monthly charge. After a year it’s 55€ to renew for another year.

 

STOP PRESS: Nick and I tried one out yesterday and it's very impressive. Thousands of channels from all over the world including lots of pay channels free. I'm off to the coast on Monday to collect a few; for me and other interested folk around here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carolyn from Montejaque has found a different solution: “I highly recommend my VPN supplier, Smart DNS Proxy. It’s American, and I pay $80 a year.”

 

 

 

Paul Whitelock from Fuente de la Higuera comments: “(Satellite) is no longer an option. We have to look at streaming, via fibre-optic using the mobile phone system, or Firestick. The old glory days of free TV are over, I’m afraid.”

 

 

 

How Does It Affect Me?

Personally speaking it’s no big deal for me, as I don’t watch much TV, but I do like to drop in on Match of the Day, International Rugby, the Olympics, etc, without having to traipse off to Bar Alegría in Ronda, a sports bar which shows these broadcasts, where I inevitably partake of too much of the falling-over liquid (beer).

Sometimes it’s nice in the winter to sit down in front of the telly and watch Strictly Come Dancing or Question Time or Newsnight.

On a daily basis I’m happy to watch the Spanish news on TVE1 (La 1) or the German Tagesschau on ARD or ZDF (my missus is German, and we have had no problems receiving dozens of German channels via the afore-mentioned Astra B satellite), but that’s not really the point.

 

Support in high places?

In my opinion, the many thousands (a million?) of British residents in Spain are entitled to have a decent free-to-air TV service from the UK. What is the British Embassy in Madrid doing about it? Or the British Consulate in Malaga? Not much, I suspect. What do they do all day? They no longer even issue British Passports.

What about the English-language press published here in Spain? I don’t see the EuroWeekly News lobbying on our behalf, nor SUR in English, nor The Olive Press (I thought this was supposed to be a campaigning newspaper!). The paid-for papers, like Costa del Sol News, neither. Online news services? Forget it!

So, we appear to be on our own. The best options going forward appear to be either a streaming service, a service via the mobile telephone network (fibre-optic), Firestick or VPN. What’s that? I hear some of you say.

 

Streaming

As far as I can work out from my enquiries, streamed TV means not live, and the number of UK terrestrial channels are limited. This is not what I want.

I am happy to watch UK terrestrial channels live, so I want a minimum of all the BBC output, ITV 1 to 4, Channel 4 and Five. Is that too much to ask?

 

Fibre-optic

If you have fibre-optic in your area, you can buy a package that gives you TV. However, the company I enquired with, Hitsmobile, who are part of the same group as Masmovil, only gives you channels from the USA and limited UK channels. Not for me.

 

 

 

Firestick

Please see my STOP PRESS above.

 

VPN

I’ll leave it to an expert to explain. Christopher Seward has been using the internet since 1994 and launched one of the very first VPN comparison websites in 2013. An expert in the field his reviews, testing and knowledge have helped thousands of users get the correct VPN for their needs.

Although his latest version of the article is three years old, it’s the best I could find.

 

 

 

 

What you need to watch British TV in Spain

Written by Christopher Seward

Updated on January 2, 2021 First Published December 15, 2015

“We’ve been getting a lot of requests asking us how you can watch British TV in Spain so we’ve put together this guide to help you achieve that.

“We’re going to show you how to watch British TV in Spain.

“This is especially important now the UK has left the EU as EU portability rules no longer apply.

“You’re going to need a VPN service. No technical skill is required!

“This method will let you watch BBC iPlayer, Sky Go, ITV Player and all the most popular UK TV services, plus a few lesser-known ones too."

 

“What you need to watch British TV in Spain

“From now on the easiest way to watch British TV in Spain is to do so on a computer or laptop. You can also use a tablet and if you’re desperate then a smartphone will work too.

“All of the UK online TV services are blocked outside the UK so if you try to access them in Spain, you’ll be told it’s not possible.

“To bypass this block, you need to use a totally legal service called a VPN.

“VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and is a way of encrypting your internet and routing your connection via another location.

“The upside is you assume the identity of that location and with a VPN the websites you visit will think you’re in the UK. So, TV streaming sites will let you view them because they think you are in the UK.

“Don’t Panic!

“First thing is, don’t panic, they sound more technical than they are, but thousands of people from teens to pensioners make use of them daily and with just 1 or 2 clicks you’re set-up and ready to go."

 

“Where do I get a VPN for British TV in Spain

“VPN services have exploded in recent years, and they’re now offered by thousands of different companies. Finding a good provider can be difficult in the sea of services.

“There are two critical features you need to be aware of before getting a VPN. Firstly, they have to have a “UK server”.

“Secondly because you’re streaming video all the way from the UK to Spain you need a VPN service that is fast; otherwise, you’ll end up with buffering.

“We’ve been reviewing VPN services for the past 7 years and put together our three top VPN providers to watch British TV in Spain.

“We recommend using NordVPN because they’re one of the easier services to use and they’re also one of the cheapest. Feel free to take a look around though and do your own research.

“Just click a provider’s name below or the green button to visit their website.

  1. NordVPN
  2. ExpressVPN
  3. CyberGhost VPN

 

“How do I use the VPN for British TV in Spain?

“Once you’ve signed up to a VPN provider, you’ll be given your login and password details.

“Next you should decide what device you want to watch on. You can alternate between devices so you can use it on your laptop and a tablet, you aren’t just limited to one.

“Once you’ve decided what device you want to use it on then download either their software for your PC or Mac desktop or laptop from their website or their app for Android or iOS from your app store.

“If you want to use the service on a tablet or phone then you must have the TV service apps installed while in the UK, for example the BBC iPlayer app, the ITV Player app etc.

“For a desktop or laptop the process is much simpler.

“Firstly, launch the VPN software or app and connect to their UK “Server”. Once connected all you have to do is visit the TV provider website on your desktop or laptop. If you’re on a tablet or phone just launch the TV service app.

“That’s all there is to it. You can now watch British TV in Spain and other countries."

 

Conclusion


The cut-off only happened nine days ago, so it’s early days. Clearly there are some “workarounds” already, but given the size of the potential market (around a million) I am sure some entrepreneurial types will come up with something good in the next few months.

But I’m afraid the era of “free telly” has now gone for good.

As for me, I need to get my skates on and get a new system. With the UEFA Champions League coming to a conclusion soon, the major football leagues in Europe too, and of course the FA Cup, the Olympics later in the year and General Elections all over the place, not least in the UK, where the only question really is: “HOW BIG WILL LABOUR’S MAJORITY BE?

 

PS

If any reader knows more about this, please leave a comment.

 

© The Curmudgeon

 

The Good Guys:

Carolyn 

Nick Flynn

Elaine Gilfillan

Jill

Freida Maybury

Christopher Seward

Paul Whitelock

Julie Wilkinson

The Curmudgeon

 

The Bad Guys:

BBC

British Consulate, Malaga

British Embassy, Madrid

Costa del Sol News

EuroWeekly News

Lemm Electronica, Ronda

SUR in English

The Olive Press

 

Acknowledgements:

Amazon

Charry TV

Hitsmobile

La Sexta

Wikipedia

Xataka

 

Useful Links:

Elaine Gilfillan, Qualified teacher of EFL, Jimera de Libar   Tel: (+34) 711 01 15 27

Freida Maybury, TEFL qualified English tutor   Tel: (+34) 634 33 01 51

Paul Whitelock, translator and corredor (independent estate agent)  Tel: (+34) 636 52 75 16  www.help-me-ronda.com 

Julie Wilkinson, translator and independent gestora ("fixer")  Tel: (+34) 744 60 65 03 

 

Tags:

Amazon, Android, Astra B satellite, iOS, BBC, BBC iPlayer, British Consulate Malaga, British Embassy Madrid, British immigrants, British TV in Spain, Christopher Seward, Costa del Sol News, Crazy Guy, Curmudgeon, CyberGhost VPN, desktop, Elaine Gilfillan, EuroWeekly News, ExpressVPN, Firestick, FA Cup, Freida Maybury, General Election, Icecrypt, ITV Player, Julie Wilkinson, laptop, Mac, Nick Flynn, NordVPN, Lemm Electronica Ronda, licence fee dodger, Olympics, Paul Whitelock, PC, receiver, Rota, satellite dish, Smart DNS Proxy, SUR in English, The Olive Press, UEFA Champions League, UK channels, Virtual Private Network, VPN comparison website, VPN software, Virtual Private Network, workaround

 

 



Like 1        Published at 5:39 PM   Comments (14)


"De Rodríguez" for one day
Saturday, March 16, 2024

My wife left me today ….. for the day! 

She went to the coast to San Pedro de Alcántara with her German friends, for the weekly market, to spend time on the beach there and to eat at a chiringuitoKala-Kalua, right on the same beach. 

Photo: Trip Advisor

They then went to Málaga city to take home another German friend, who had come on the bus to meet them in San Pedro. 

So, I was kind of “de Rodríguez” (footloose and fancy-free) for the day. 

 

My day “de Rodríguez” 

I took advantage of being on my own to crack on with important matters. 

 

Lawyer 

First, I went to the town lawyer to make an appointment for next week. 

Photo: Forbes

An English guy, let’s call him “Scouse Git” for legal reasons, owes me nearly 6,000€ for renovations I did to his house in Ronda, so I am taking legal steps to get a judgement in my favour and an embargo on his bank account for the money. 

It’s an open-and-shut case: I have proof of our contract, so he will have to fulfil it and pay me. 

 

Bank 

Then I went to my bank, CaixaBank, to see Jesús, and to pay, under protest, an electricity bill for said “Scouse Git”, because I was daft enough to put the connection order for his house in my name to speed things up, so we could start on the work. 

Photo: CaixaBank

I didn’t know he was going to turn nasty and refuse to pay me what he owes me. 

 

Translation 

I did a translation for Ronda Council Culture Department last December. They still haven’t paid me 3 months later!

Photo: The Olive Press

Excuse after excuse. 

Today I enlisted the help of a friend and neighbour who is a councillor in Ronda. 

Let’s hope something happens after long last. 

 

*STOP PRESS!*  They just paid me a few days ago!

 

Rogue estate agent 

I collaborated with a well-known local estate agent. The deal was, as a corredor, I would give her introductions to houses for sale, and if she sold them, I would earn a commission. 

Photo: Alamy

I “gave” her around a dozen houses. She has sold several of them but has only paid me commission on one. It’s outrageous, but I will get KP from ACH eventually. 

Although she has lived and worked in Andalucía for decades, she is not as smart as I am. I know the law; she apparently doesn’t. 

 

“Real” retirement 

As a result of all this hassle, I have decided to really retire, nearly 20 years after I actually stopped work and became a pensioner. 

No more house conversions, no more translations, no more collaborating with estate agents. 

 

China 

A quick stop at a Chinese supermarket to buy a couple of things I needed, and I was back home for midday. 

 

House and garden work

It was so hot, that unhindered by anybody else, I got my kit off and set about various tasks around the garden. We practice nudism in our private garden (FKK as it’s known in Germany, the land of my missus.) 

Photo: Amazon

I completed my repair of our car port, the roof of which was destroyed by recent storms in the area. 

I installed a celosía and planted a bush; I completed a new seating area at the rear of our large garden; I painted two shed doors; erected a new screen between us and next door; and weeded my huerto (vegetable garden). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

Photo: iStock

 

In between I had a skinny dip in the pool – bloody cold – and lit the barbecue. Had a great lunch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Paul Whitelock

 

Time was getting on, so I tidied up and went to my local for a few beers and to start this article. 

When I got home, the Meter Maid (Lovely Rita, geddit?) was back from the coast, so my día de Rodríguez was over.

 

Note: FKK stands for Freikörperliche Kultur, ie nudism.

 

©  The Curmudgeon

 

Links:

... de Rodríguez? - Secret Serrania de Ronda

PROFESSIONAL SERVICES - Help me, Ronda (help-me-ronda.com)

 

Tags:

ACH, barbecue, CaixaBank, Curmudgeon, de Rodriguez, estate agent, FKK, Freikörperliche Kultur, house conversions, lawyer, Liverpool, Lovely Rita, Malaga, Meter Maid, nudism, Olive Press, Ronda, Ronda Council, Scouse Git, Secret Serrania, skinny dip



Like 1        Published at 8:39 AM   Comments (0)


Who are the bad guys?
Thursday, January 25, 2024

We are living in troubled times. The Curmudgeon takes a look.

 

The weather and wars

Not only is the world experiencing extreme weather events, eg snow, ice, freezing temperatures, violent storms and floods in North America and northern Europe, yet, in stark contrast, drought in southern Europe…..

….. there are wars in Ukraine and Gaza Strip. Conflict in the Red Sea/Yemen region. Iran flexing its muscles and taunting the West. Unrest in Ecuador. Conflicts in Africa that are no longer reported in the West. The rise of extreme right-wing parties like the AfD in Germany, VOX in Spain and the PVV in The Netherlands. Donald Trump likely to be the next president of the United States.

And behind all this, there are increasing tensions in the Far East. China, Taiwan, North Korea spring to mind.

 

Diseases

Has the Coronavirus really been contained? Is the resurgence of measles a worry? Should we be concerned about ‘flu?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who or what is to blame?

Are all these down to human beings, politics, religious beliefs, global warming or a mixture of them all?

Human beings are culpable in all this chaos. That prompts the question: WHO ARE THE BAD GUYS?

Here is The Curmudgeon’s list in alphabetical order.

He says: “I’ll leave you to put them in order from worst to least bad. I do not dare!”

 

 

The Bad Guys

Prince ANDREW, Duke of York – disgraced royal

 

 

 

 

 

Recep Tayyip ERDOĞAN – tricky Turkish president

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boris JOHNSON – disgraced former UK prime minister

 

 

 

 

 

 

JUAN CARLOS I – disgraced ex-king of Spain

 

 

 

 

 

 

KIM JONG UN – autocratic leader of North Korea

 

 

 

 

 

 

Javier MILEI – newly elected president of Argentina. A right-wing populist

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin NETANYAHU – the prime minister of Israel; possibly a war criminal

 

 

 

 

Victor ORBAN - Hungary's longest serving prime minister, Orbán has curtailed press freedom, weakened judicial independence, and undermined multiparty democracy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vladimir PUTIN – murderous and corrupt Russian president; undoubtedly a war criminal

 

 

 

 

 

Ayatolá JOMEINÍ – leader of Iran; up to all kinds of skulduggery in the Middle East

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nicola STURGEON – disgraced Scottish ex-first minister

 

 

 

 

 

 

Donald TRUMP – disastrous former president facing 91 criminal charges; should be in gaol

 

 

 

XI Jinping -  Chinese leader. Can he be trusted? Why is he backing Putin?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, there you have it? These guys are all still alive. What about these dozen dead ones?

 

Winston CHURCHILL - former UK prime minister. War criminal and alcoholic

Jeffrey EPSTEIN - Prince Andrew's pal; a sex traffiker

General FRANCO - Spanish dictator and mass murderer.

Myra HINDLEY - Peter Sutcliffe's assistant

Adolf HITLER - need I say more?

Pol POT - Cambodian mass murderer.

Jack the RIPPER - a royal, by all accounts.

The Yorkshire RIPPER - The Moors Murderer, Peter Sutcliffe. Incompetent police allowed him to carry on longer than he should have.

Jimmy SAVILLE - deceased DJ, sex pest, paedophile, tolerated for far too long by the BBC.

Josef STALIN - worse than Hitler? Discuss.

Margaret THATCHER - the grocer's daughter that ruined Britain.

Fred and Rosemary WEST - serial killers. Fred killed himself but Rose remains in prison.

 

© The Curmudgeon

 

All photographs of "bad guys" courtesy of Wikipedia

Others courtesy of Freepik, NHS and Prime Video

 

Tags: 

AfD, Africa, Argentina, Ayatollah Jomeini, bad guys, BBC, Boris Johnson, Cambodia, China, Chinese leader, Churchill, Coronavirus, Curmudgeon, deceased DJ, Donald Trump, Ecuador, Erdogan, ex-king of Spain, extreme right-wing parties, Far East, 'flu, Franco, Fred West, Gaza Strip, Germany, grocer's daughter, Hitler, Iran, Israel, Jack the Ripper, Jeffrey Epstein, Jimmy Saville,  Juan Carlos I, Kim Jong Un, Margaret Thatcher, mass murderer, measles, Middle East, Milei, Moors Murderer, Myra Hindley, Netanyahu, Netherlands, Nicola Sturgeon, North Korea, paedophile, Peter Sutcliffe, Pol Pot, president of the United States, prime minister, Prince Andrew, Putin, PVV, Red Sea, Rosemary West, Russian president, Scottish ex-first minister, sex pest, sex trafficker, Spain, Spanish dictator, Stalin, Taiwan, Turkish president, Ukraine, UK prime minister, US president, Victor Orban, VOX, war criminal, Xi Jinping, Yemen, Yorkshire Ripper



Like 0        Published at 10:50 PM   Comments (1)


Spanish Banks – What EyeOnSpain readers think .....
Wednesday, January 24, 2024

In October 2023, frustrated by the poor service offered by a number of Spanish banks, The Curmudgeon wrote an article complaining about the Spanish banks he has used over a period of some 50 years. [See link below]. 

It provoked a strong reaction.

Most commentators seemed to agree with our grump. Here is what they wrote:

 

Graham Keen said:
Saturday, October 21, 2023 

"I bought a property in 2001 and was with Bankinter for over 20 years. Absolutely shocking service and you need to book a day off if you need any sort of consultation.

"Their couldn’t care less attitude is staggering and any trip to the bank is stressful beyond belief. Just to be able to speak to a cashier was usually an hour of a job at least and it had got significantly worse over the years especially after Brexit.

"I was paying €250 per year just for having an account!


"I closed my account in 2022 after transferring all my Direct Debits to Wise and now have a Belgian IBAN.

"I have no bank charges whatsoever now and it’s the best thing I ever did!!


 

Pamela Jakeway said:
Saturday, October 21, 2023 

"What total nonsense, I’ve been with Unicaja Bank for 10 years in Alcala La Real and there’s no finer banking service than this branch. My bank manager Isidro always goes above and beyond his duties."


 

grapow said:
Saturday, October 21, 2023 

"Our banking experience and indeed with Bankinter in Dénia couldnt be more different , we are now in our 24th year with them. Excellent service, rarely a queue of more than 2 people and by keeping a modest investment with them we remain chargeless."
 


 

macsco said:
Saturday, October 21, 2023 

"Also been on the merry-go-round of Spanish banks.

"Started with Santander, agreed a mortgage in 1999, they pulled the offer within a week of the completion, so switched to Banco de Andalucia. They imploded and I was with Banco Popular. Fees arrived so moved to Bankinter.

"After a few years Bankinter fees arrived, so left them for N26.

"No issues no fees but no physical banks, and I also have a UK Starling account ££&€€ and can happily transfer between the two fee-free."


 

roberto123 said:
Saturday, October 21, 2023 

"I was with Caixa years ago they were OK even though I had to pay but their service went downhill. Could never get any sense out of them. Compared to UK banks they are terrible."


 

Alex said:
Saturday, October 21, 2023 
 

"We are absolutely fine with Unicaja online bank (cuenta online SIN), sin standing for no costs whatsoever. However, I am not British but of EU nationality and within the EU/euro system. No hassle there.

"When I opened my account online, there was some trouble with the recognition of my passport and tarjeta verde. I went to the local bank in the village here and was excellently helped by the man there. No queues, no fees and very friendly people (it is a 2-person subsidiary). Normally you can't go to a bank counter with this online bank account, but the man was absolutely dedicated to help me. Then I wanted to convert the account to an account on 2 names (husband and I), again, no problem, we handed in all requested documents and yes, we have a joint account now which works fine, no fees whatsover if you use the standard transferring and ATM banking facilities. Moreover, they are in the 6000 RED, so you can use many ATMs from many banks in this network for free.

"As far as I know they are the only bank that is totally free of charges for everyday banking. I transfer from other EU euro accounts for free, and within seconds the amounts are visible in the other banks and v.v. I use Bizum too with this account.

"I had tried to open an EVO account (also totally free) before, but the identification process was a disaster and they only have an online help desk which is worthless and that provides NO service at all, only obstructions (they asked me for a tarjeta verde with photo, which does not exist in Spain for EU citizens!) So better stay away from these rigid only online banks that are not there for you but only for their own profits. All other online banks charge you fees for daily use, so be warned."


 

Simon said:
Saturday, October 21, 2023 

"LaCaixa was excellent until my manager changed his job. Utterly appalling now. I have a leak and made a claim on the LaCaixa insurance, Adeslas. Five months later still not fixed even though issue identified in the first week. They outsource to Homeserve who ignore what the plumbers tell them. At one branch the person controlling entry was being rude to everyone and lied to me when I asked for Hojas de Reclamación saying they didn't exist. It is a legal requirement to be provided if asked for. Director level in LaCaixa couldn't care less when notified."


 

DJF42 said:
Saturday, October 21, 2023 

"It goes to show as in many businesses, it is the employees that make the reputation of the business and has been demonstrated in the comments.

"Having a good responsible manager and staff makes all the difference."


 

oldjonesey said:
Saturday, October 21, 2023 


"I can totally relate to the author's banking issues. Having been with Caixa for several years whenever I visit the branch there is invariably an argument going on with one or more irate customers. They are more interested in trying to sell you various insurance products instead of offering a banking facility and although my account effectively runs itself they rake off hefty charges every quarter. I did try N26 but this also proved problematic but I may give them a second chance having listened to others who use them. At least this would avoid the in branch confrontations!"


 

 

 

 

Carey Michael said:
Sunday, October 22, 2023 
 

"I am banking with Sabadell. Their service is non-existent. They disconnected my online account due to clerk error. I could not access it. They refused to reactivate unless I visited the bank in person.

"I arranged flights to specially visit the bank. Arrived at the bank within opening hours to find that the bank will not see clients without an appointment. Nearest date was a week away.

"There is no customer service and staff are quite arrogant."

 

 

 

***

The Curmudgeon says: "I rest my case."

He adds: "I still have a bank account in the UK, with Santander UK, cousin of Banco Santander. Their Customer Care is outstanding, as it always was when it was Alliance & Leicester. Staff are polite and helpful and they are available 24/7.

"Unlike in Spain, where Atencion al Cliente is only on dias laborables from 9.30 to 5.30. Shocking!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© The Curmudgeon

 

See also:

You can no longer bank on your bank! (eyeonspain.com)

 

Tags:

6000 RED, Adeslas, Alliance & Leicester, banco, Banco de Andalucia, Banco Popular, Banco Santander, bancSabadell, bank, Bankinter, Bizum, Caixa, EVO, Homeserve, LaCaixa, N26, Sabadell, Santander UK, Unicaja, Wise  



Like 0        Published at 1:27 PM   Comments (0)


My Top 10 Bugbears – From Banks to VOX - REVISED & UPDATED
Monday, December 18, 2023

 

The Curmudgeon is in a bad mood. Lately a few things have been getting on his nerves. He needs to get them off his chest.

Here he lists in alphabetical order the 10 things that are p**sing him off at the moment down here in Andalucía.

 

The Banks

I wrote about this recently (click here). In summary, the big high street banks are making huge profits from OUR MONEY, yet are offering customers an ever worsening level of service. Top offenders in my experience are Santander, BancSabadell and Unicaja (numbers 1, 4 and 5 in Spain respectively). I’d be surprised if the others are any better, although up to npw I’ve had a good service from CaixaBank.

Despite making lots of money, these successful banks are charging customers maintenance fees, closing branches and trying to shift us to online banking. At least one (Unicaja) has cut its services in languages other than Spanish. It’s an absolute disgrace.

 

Cita Previa

The need to apply online or on the phone for a prior appointment to do most things official is very frustrating.

Introduced during the pandemic for obvious reasons, now that Coronavirus is to some extent under control, the system is being abused, with entities continuing to insist on one.

I had to get one recently just to pick up a letter from Hacienda!

 

 

 

 

 

Cruzcampo lager

Why do andaluces love this beer so much? It’s horrible, yet it’s ubiquitous in Andalucía – it’s only just about drinkable when served ice cold.

Well, what do you expect? Cruzcampo is owned by Heineken, which alongside Anheuser-Busch probably brew the worst lagers in the world.

Fortunately, for me and other non-andaluces, although most bars round here sell Cruzcampo on draft, they usually stock a more varied range of bottled beers (tercios). Commonly available are Alhambra Verde and Alhambra Blanca (Granada), Estrella Galicia (A Coruña), Victoria (Málaga) and If you’re really lucky you might find El Águila  (Madrid), El Alcázar (Jaen) or Turia (Valencia).

 

Damas (Bus Company)

The taquilla in Ronda Bus Station only opens for two ½ hour slots in the morning and not at all at weekends.

The booking website doesn’t work properly, in that you can’t apply discounts and if you ring either of their two advertised telephone numbers, nobody answers.

Fortunately, you can pay the driver and get the discount, but you can’t buy a return ticket, thereby missing out on the discount for booking ida y vuelta.

The final annoyance is that, despite advertising free Wi-Fi, it doesn’t work very well, at least not on the Ronda to Seville route which we used recently.

This company functioned much better when it was just plain old Amarillas.

 

 

DHL

There are loads of delivery companies that bring us our online purchases, but DHL is one of the biggest. Indeed, it runs the privatised Deutsche Post (German Post Office).

But they are quite frankly hopeless. Their local delivery driver knows full well where I live, yet last week an urgent packet could not be delivered, because the driver reported neither my house nor my street exists! Funny that, for the road has been there since medieval times – it’s a via pecuaria or cañada real (drovers’ path) and the house has been there over 30 years!

 

Guardia Civil Tráfico

Unlike the guardia civil in generalTráfico are the pits!

They just fine and fine!

Recently, they fined a 71-year-old lady friend of mine because she stopped briefly on the highway to pick up her husband, who was on foot, and they just happened to be driving past. She’d never been fined in 54 years of driving, a point which was made to the officers, but they weren’t prepared to let her off.

By the way, the lady is my wife. And guess who had to pay the fine?

When I mentioned the incident in passing to a couple of our local village guardias, whom I know, they said: “They’re no friends of ours, nor colleagues – they’re just sinvergüenzas.”

To keep the record straight, I like the “normal” guardias civiles. Of the three police bodies in Spain, they come out top in my opinion, ahead of the Policía Nacional and the Policía Local. I wrote about it here.

 

Hacienda

The sheer incompetence and intransigence of the Spanish equivalent of the British Inland Revenue never ceases to amaze me.

Every year I receive a letter accusing me of tax avoidance/evasion, because I don’t pay them any income tax on my UK pension. And every year I have to point out that my pension is a local government pension, which is taxed in the UK, so I am not liable to pay tax on it again in Spain.

I am fiscally resident in Spain, as I am a permanent resident here, but there is an agreement between Spain and the UK, so that this type of pension is not taxed twice.

You would think that somebody at the Agencia Tributaria would cotton on and save everybody time and money.

 

Partido Popular

What is going on? The PP has been in control of the regional government in Andalucía since 2017. I cannot understand it. How can a region like Andalucía that has always been socialist since the Civil War, elect a right-wing party?

And, what’s worse, it’s looking like the PP will form the next national government after the next general election in 2023, despite Pedro Sánchez, the current prime minister, having done a great job, especially in dealing with Covid and now with the cost-of-living crisis.

Look what’s happened in the UK with 12 years of a Conservative-led government. Five prime ministers (Cameron, May, Johnson, Truss and now Sunak), a ruined economyout of the European Union, a laughingstock in the rest of the world. Does Spain want something similar under the leadership of the distinctly un-charismatic and naff Alberto Nuñez Fijoo?

My big problem with right-of-centre parties is that they only look after themselves and their cronies at the expense of the poor and needy.

 

Policia Local

Like guardia civil tráfico they love dishing out parking fines, showing little sympathy and understanding. I picked up five in my village in 2021, from the same two municipales! I also picked up two in Ronda, one in Estepona and one in Fuengirola. Pretty expensive at 200€ a time (100€ if you pay quickly). I make that 900€ I’ve contributed to the annual police ball!

 

 

 

VOX

I cannot abide any political party that smacks of the extreme right.

Look what happened in the middle of the 20th Century with fascism rife in Germany, Italy and Spain. Oh, and also in Great Britain (remember Oswald Moseley?).

First the Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939) and then World War II that lasted six years (1939 – 1945). Both cost millions of lives and the repercussions are still being felt today, 80 years later.

The rise of the AFD (Alternative für Deutschland) in Germany, of Marine Le Pen and her far-right National Re-Unification party in France and VOX in Spain is a real cause for concern.

Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, for all his claims to the contrary, is an out-and-out fascist, whilst claiming that the West are the real Nazis! Around here we call him: hijo de Putin! (Geddit?)

 

© The Curmudgeon

 

Tags: AFD, Anheuser-Busch, BancSabadell, banks, CaixaBank, cita previa, Civil War, Cruzcampo, Curmudgeon, Damas, DHL, far-right, fascism, guardia civil, hacienda, Heineken, hijo de Putin, Marine Le Pen, nazi, partido popular, policía local,  Putin, Santander, tráfico, Unicaja, VOX, World War II



Like 0        Published at 6:29 AM   Comments (1)


Let there be light!
Monday, October 23, 2023

With the current weather here in Andalucia – actually the whole of Spain – heavy rainfall, storms, high winds, the Curmudgeon thinks he’s living in a third world country.

Why?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weather in 2023

For the last three days we have experienced really bad weather here on the Iberian Peninsula. Actually, if you speak to a Spaniard, good weather.

Eh?

There have been drought conditions here in southern Spain for most of this year. 2023 has endured the hottest and driest summer since records began. The reservoirs are very low on water, some are officially empty.

We northern Europeans, deprived of sunlight for most of our lives, love it? When asked why they emigrated to Spain, most will mention the weather as a factor. In Andalucia we enjoy 300 days of sunshine per year!

The locals, however, see it differently. Many andaluces are farmers, agricultural workers, fruit and vegetable producers, vintners, etc. Their crops have been poor and harvests are reduced in 2023 because of the lack of water.

So, when it rains, they love it and pray for more. They call it good weather.

I digress.

 

Power cuts

The storms keep knocking out the electricity supply, which is pretty fragile round here. The system is ancient and needs an urgent upgrade. There were 13 power cuts on Christmas Day a few years back. How we roasted our turkey I do not recall.

Those of us with “nothing to do” (Ha! Ha! I’m busier at 73 than I ever was before I retired from work, and I had a demanding job with long hours!), we can’t watch TV, can’t read, can’t use our computers, can’t brew a cup of tea, nor cook a meal.

The storms of the last three days have blown down trees, flooded streets, burst drains, played havoc in gardens, blowing down trellises and snapping tender saplings.

I’ve had enough, personally!

Sadly, the rain is insufficient to fill the reservoirs nor top up the underground springs, wells and aquifers. It won’t get the dried-up rivers flowing again and it won’t rescue the crops that have starved of water.

Yet, there are still climate change deniers. Are these the same people who are holocaust deniers?

It makes you think …..

 

© The Curmudgeon

 

Tags:

climate change denier, Curmudgeon, drought, electricity supply, flood, holocaust denier, light, power cut, rain, reservoir, storm, water

 



Like 0        Published at 8:48 AM   Comments (0)


You can no longer bank on your bank!
Thursday, October 19, 2023

The banks in Spain could well be the worst in Europe, if not the world.

They make obscene profits, yet they continue to close branches and their service gets poorer and poorer.

Here is a potted history of my experience of Spanish banks over more than five decades.

 

Banco Hispano Americano

I opened an account with this bank in San Sebastián (Guipuzcoa) in 1970 whilst on my year abroad from university. I knew a cashier there, Santi, so it made sense. After a few years I no longer needed the account, so I closed it.

Banco Hispano Americano no longer exists, having merged with Banco Central in 1991.

 

Unicaja

Having bought a property in Spain in 2001, I needed a Spanish bank account once again. On the recommendation of the estate agent who was selling me the apartment, I opened an account with Unicaja, at that time a regional (Andalucian) caja de ahorros (savings bank).

I enjoyed free banking and a trouble-free experience with Unicaja until they decided to get too big for their boots and became a bank. Then it got much more complicated …..

In 2022 Unicaja completed the takeover of Liberbank and became truly a national bank and the sixth largest in the country.

Their criteria for free banking were tightened and I no longer qualified. Post-merger coincided with a marked deterioration in their level of service. They even cancelled their service in the German language.

I cancelled my account. They charged me a fee of 50€ for the privilege!

 

BancSabadell

I opened an account with this Valencian bank around 2018 and used it as a secondary account until Unicaja and I parted company. At that point Sabadell became my main bank here in Spain.

I was delighted. I got to know the director of the Ronda branch, Carlos, and everything was fine until …..

….. the bank decided to close the branch. Despite being the fourth largest bank in Spain.

I discussed this with Carlos, and he re-assured me that the cajero automatico would remain and that he would still be contactable at his new branch in San Pedro de Alcántara, over an hour’s drive from Ronda.

I agreed to stay with them and to see if it worked for me.

Well, within a year they had removed the cajero and I could never get hold of Carlos on the phone.

At the end of my tether, I finally closed my account last week.

 

Caixabank

Around 2021 I opened an account with this Catalan bank. Its criteria for free banking were easier for me to meet than with all the other Spanish “high street” banks.

At that time there were two branches in Ronda, one in Arriate and another in Montejaque, where I spend a lot of time.

Within six months of joining Caixabank, the Montejaque branch reduced its hours of atención al cliente to two days a week. A bit inconvenient, but I can live with that.

Their “free” banking isn’t free. They charge me a monthly fee for receiving my UK pension (although that might be because of Brexit, I suppose), and also for receiving payment for any rentals of my holiday home in Montejaque paid from the UK.

They also charge 1.95€ for an immediate bank transfer within Spain.

Frustrating, to say the least.

The other day I needed to go to the counter at the main Ronda branch. As always, there was a queue for the only caja. I was about fifth. All of a sudden, the cashier disappeared upstairs with a customer, leaving the caja unattended. A colleague would take her place, she said.

After 20 minutes no-one had appeared. I went behind the scenes to find somebody and spoke to the assistant manager, Antonio, who had nobody with him.

“Why is there nobody at the caja?” I asked politely.

“The other cashier has gone for breakfast,” he replied, without batting an eyelid.

“At this time?” (It was 12.10 pm!)

“Why can’t you take over? There’s a long queue.”

“Sorry, I’m only doing citas previas (prior appointments),” he said unconcerned.

“OK. You don’t have anybody with you, can I make a cita previa for right now?”

“You have to make appointments via the cashier,” he pronounced, without realising how foolish he sounded.

“But she’s not there – she’s gone for afternoon breakfast …..!”

He just shrugged. Honestly, you couldn’t make it up!

Absolutely dreadful service!

 

Santander

A few years ago (in 2010) my wife needed to open an account with Santander in Mallorca. She never used the account, so, after a year, she closed it, for which they charged a fee!

By default, I have an account in the UK with Santander, now the largest of the high street banks there. Back then I was with the Alliance and Leicester, which Santander took over in 2010, along with Abbey National and Bradford and Bingley, making them number one.

I stayed put. I have to admit, I have no quibble with Santander UK.

Although Banco Santander and Santander UK are separate businesses, they remain “cousins”. As a result, I benefit from a special offer in that I can withdraw cash from my UK account at a Banco Santander cash machine without any costs.

That’s the only positive I can think of at the moment.

 

 

 

Banks? They’re all terrible. I must check out the space under the mattress …..

 

© The Curmudgeon

 

Further reading:

My Top 10 Bugbears – From Banks to VOX (eyeonspain.com)

The Tax Man, Spanish Banks and the Policia Local (eyeonspain.com)

 

Tags:

Abbey National, Alliance and Leicester, Arriate, banco, bank, Banco Central, Banco Hispano Americano, Banco Santander, Bancsabadell, Bradford and Bingley, Caixabank, Montejaque, Ronda, San Pedro de Alcántara, Unicaja

 



Like 3        Published at 5:41 PM   Comments (10)


BREXIT? What a huge mistake!
Monday, October 16, 2023

What has leaving the European Union brought to the United Kingdom? asks The Curmudgeon. Nothing positive at all, that’s for sure. The economy is in a mess, bureaucracy has increased, travel abroad is restricted and we've no longer any friends in Europe.

 

 

The EU referendum and Brexit

It was so obvious back in 2016 at the time of the campaign to leave and the subsequent referendum, yet our so-called intelligent electorate “f**ked it up” big-style, because they chose to believe the blatant lies of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and the rest.

They were nothing more than opportunists, desperate to get their hands on power.

Public-school educated, privileged people who were, and remain, as thick as the proverbial two short planks!

Now that this costly mistake is coming to fruition, Bojo has walked away (actually been sent packing) and reasonable politicians like Kenneth Clarke, David Gauke and others have moved on and are no longer MPs.

Current prime minister Rishi Sunak seems to have brokered a reasonable deal vis-à-vis Northern Ireland, but Brexit remains a mess.

I know a few numbskulls who still support Brexit, and many of them are residents here in Spain. I don’t get it! What planet are they living on?

 

Rejoin

As the British approach a General Election in 2024, I am disappointed that the clear leader in the race to be the next prime minister, Sir Keir Starmer (Labour), is too timid to grasp the rejoin nettle and say that a Labour government would seek re-entry.

Meanwhile, the real culprit for this debacle, David Cameron, who allowed a referendum on the issue of continued membership of the EU, has scurried off onto the sunset and is earning far more than he did as prime minister.

Rather like Bojo, who should be warming his arse as a guest of the king in Wandsworth prison, yet who gets paid huge sums of money for spouting his drivel to organisations and companies around the world.

The problem with referenda is that when you ask the people, too many of whom read the Tory gutter press, you often get the answer you didn’t want!

¡Viva Europa!

 

Personal

I intend to apply for Spanish citizenship as soon as possible; then at least I can vote in national, regional, and European elections in the country where I live and pay my taxes. I’ve been disenfranchised for the last 15 years, since I emigrated here.

By acquiring a Spanish passport, I will apparently be able to visit one more country than I currently can with my British one. I don’t know which country that is, but I bet it’s nice there …..

 

 

© The Curmudgeon

 

Photo acknowledgements:

dachser.com

El Mundo

Health Plan Spain

 

Further reading:

Brexit Three Years On (eyeonspain.com)

How to Get Spanish Citizenship in 2023 (Complete Guide) (balcellsgroup.com)

Why Can’t We Have the Vote? (eyeonspain.com)

 

Tags:

Bojo, Boris Johnson, British passport, citizenship, Curmudgeon, David Cameron, David Gauke, EU, European Union, General Election in 2024, Keir Starmer, Kenneth Clarke, Michael Gove, Rishi Sunak, Spanish citizenship, Spanish passport, referendum, UK passport



Like 2        Published at 9:08 AM   Comments (1)


The local mafia
Sunday, September 17, 2023

Algunlugar is a pretty little pueblo blanco in the mountains of the Serrania de Ronda, where the local "mafia" is in full operation.

To look at the village, you wouldn't guess at this darker side of its life. Tourists and travellers don't notice the "mafia" at work in this village of fewer than 1000 inhabitants. Of these full-time residents some 40 are guiris, foreigners, and it is a small proportion of these incomers that make up the local "mafiosi". And not one of them is Italian!

 

Don't get me wrong - these people do not kill or kidnap, but a small number think they have the right to sit in judgement on and to control the behaviour of other outsiders who choose to live here.

These people have already seen off an English photographer and his wife, and an Italian chef, and split the foreign community into two. They have tried to get rid of an English architect and a retired Welshman. To their credit the architect and his wife have decided to stay on, despite the antipathy generated by the "mafia inglesa".

The latest "victim" has not yet decided whether to stay or go. This septuagenarian loves Algunlugar, but more for the village itself and the locals, rather than the "expats".

Fortunately, this gentleman is a fluent Spanish speaker and finds the local algunlugareños less complicated than the northern European "guests".

Quite a few long-term foreign residents have sold up and moved back home in recent times, although I cannot confirm whether or not they did so, because of the malign intentions of the local "cosa nostra". There are whispers that the village ain't wot it used to be.

Algunlugar remains split. There are a small number of guiri residents who keep themselves to themselves and don't mix a lot with the others. Whether they feel shunned or not, I don't know.

All in all, I find it quite intolerable that a small group of well-to-do guiris can exercise such control. They speak little Spanish and spend their retirement drinking and complaining about those who seek to integrate into the life of the village and its people, and who actively do "stuff"!

 

 

© The Curmudgeon

 

Tags:

Algunlugar, algunlugareños, cosa nostra, guiri, mafia, mafiosi, pueblo blanco, Serrania de Ronda, 

 



Like 3        Published at 8:23 AM   Comments (4)


Ryanair – good or bad?
Saturday, July 22, 2023

I’ve been flying with Ryanair, the Irish low-cost airline, almost since they started. We fly with them regularly, as they ply the routes we currently use or have used in the past, at the most convenient times, and usually at the best price.

 

Ryanair is a controversial airline, not least because of the oft ridiculous utterings of their chief executive, Michael O’Leary. They are leaders in the field; where they introduce changes most other airlines follow.

The company also expected not to pay landing charges at tiny airfields in Spain, France and elsewhere, where the airline promised them big business. When these airfields cottoned on and suggested Ryanair might pay them, the Irish company simply walked away. I can think of Granada, Jerez de la Frontera, Carcassonne, Frankfurt Hahn and Waterloo. There are many more. O’Leary and his mates are unscrupulous and uncompromising.

The routes I have used include Liverpool to Granada, Málaga, Jerez and Sevilla, to Cologne, Düsseldorf Weeze and Frankfurt Hahn. Since I moved to live in Spain 15 years ago, my routes have changed to Malaga, Sevilla or Jerez to airports like Baden-Baden, Hahn or Weeze and Bristol, Gatwick and Stansted.

Booking flights online these days is a nightmare. Offers and add-ons come at you thick and fast. And if you want to travel with more than a small bag, you pay extra; lots extra.

I flew from Malaga to London Stansted yesterday. I opted to fly with a carry-on bag, so I just paid for the flight. A 10kg small case would have cost me 40€ extra. I also refused to book a seat and pay a charge of anything between 10€ and 40€. I let them allocate me a random seat. I got 9D. Not bad, an aisle seat near the front of the aircraft.

So, I just paid 55€. A bargain for a 3000 km journey.

Normally I am quite happy to fly with Ryanair. I can put up with the non-reclinable seats and the tiny legroom for between two and three hours, their coffee (Lavazza) is drinkable, and their food offering has improved immensely over the years.         

More gripes about yesterday. The flight left 50 minutes late with no explanation given and no apology until we had landed and were about to disembark the plane.

More gripes, although these are not Ryanair’s fault.

At Stansted the automatic passport machines, as is often the case, were refusing scores of passengers, so we had to traipse to the manual desks, where the queue was immense. An hour to clear the airport is unacceptable. Then a 25-minute wait for a bus into London. Not my best ever flight day.

But, hey, I got here safely, albeit late for an appointment, and am now enjoying the company of my daughter and her two sons in Stratford, London. On Monday I head for Hastings to my son’s to meet my newly born grandson for the first time.

Unusually I fly back to Malaga next Wednesday with Vueling, the Spanish low-cost carrier. They’re just as much a rip-off as Ryanair. I need to book a small case to take some stuff back to Spain, which will cost me 40 pounds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

©  The Curmudgeon

 

Tags: Baden-Baden, Bristol, Carcassonne, Cologne, Curmudgeon, Dusseldorf Weeze, Frankfurt Hahn, Gatwick, Granada, Hastings, Jerez de la Frontera, Lavazza, Liverpool, low-cost airline, Malaga, Michael O’Leary, , Ryanair, Sevilla, Stansted, Stratford, Vueling, Waterloo



Like 5        Published at 10:19 AM   Comments (14)


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