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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.

My Top 10 Bugbears – From Banks to VOX
Thursday, November 3, 2022 @ 9:16 PM

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 general, Tráfico 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 economy, out 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: The Curmudgeon, banks, Santander, BancSabadell, CaixaBank, Unicaja, cita previa, Cruzcampo, Heineken, Anheuser-Busch, Damas, DHL, guardia civil, tráfico, hacienda, partido popular, policía local, vox, fascism, far-right, Putin, Civil War, World War II



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