Bixa, I'm afraid I pay little attention to where we all live. I do remember K2/bjd have some association with a country that has bad food and a bad attitude (*gallic shrug*) and you are some distance away to the left side of the map. Mick, Cheery and Mossie live in a country that is to be excommunicated in a day or two, there are those that live upside down and others in places where you don't need a fridge/freezer for most of the year. One lives somewhere in a small country and I'd have to 'waffle' on to identify and one lives in a curious place that eats something called bunny chow but is not rabbit. There are many others and I am at a bit of a loss but more certainly can say that no, nobody needs to make up their spare bed.
Unless you happen to live in.......ATTENTION!............ATTENTION!.......... THIS IS A PUBLIC BROADCAST........ WE INTERRUPT PROGRAMMING TO SAY, REMAIN CALM, KEEP YOUR WINDOWS CLOSED AND STAY INSIDE. THE STORM WILL PASS SOON........
I know you like a challenge, Mark, but this upcoming one with your brother is certainly not the sort of challenge that you would have preferred. Still, I'm quite sure that if anybody can sort things out, it is you.
As for changing plane tickets, that was my domain, so I can confirm that it is the agency that collected the money that is responsible for any change or refund. I wouldn't say that most agencies are crooks (I would only think it in silence), but they make their living off charging additional fees and of course most corporate customers pay such things without batting an eye. But, as you found out, it is always good to check directly with the airline which in the end can do whatever it wants and damn the rules. Where I worked (but this would be true of just about any airline that I can think of), five different people would have five different reactions to a request. One would stick to the rule book, one would take into consideration the human factor, one might enjoy negotiating with you, one would do whatever takes the least work on their part, etc... And there is also a conflicting power structure between the sales department, the ticket office, the accounting office, top management, not to mention employees at war with each other. For my own travels, I have been luckier than most. I have received a free first class ticket by making a simple phone call, I was sold a Los Angeles-Paris ticket on Air France for $120 with just a hard luck story, and I travelled from Johannesburg to Paris with no ticket at all, although that required a certain amount of sorting out when I was back home. Knowing the special language of airlines was always of great assistance. Airlines are strange things and wield too much power.
bjd, over time there is a lot of talk that unfortunately gets left behind. Guatemala was also a possibility at some stage, as was returning to Egypt and a possibility of Georgia. They are three completely different countries so there is no 'theme' to where you move to. I may tease those on here but in reality, there is no chance as yet of me saying where. I'm hoping that a new contract is signed in the next few weeks, but in all likelihood, it may be months, knowing how slowly big companies act. So, best if we 'move on'.
K2, in all the times I've flown in and out of Zambia I've always used Ethiopian except once with Emirates, and that was when I originally flew here. I've always found that when I visit their office due to complications, they are always very helpful, do what they can to please and charge the minimum amount for any changes - even when one time I not only had to change a date, but fly from Frankfurt instead of originally, Cairo. Never got charged for anything other than an obligatory $100 change fee.
This, in leaving and being sorted out by Mrs M's company and their pet travel agency does make me wonder who is obeying the rules or who is short-cutting them. Is what the agency said technically correct and Ethiopian have simplified it out of kindness or something and because they have the power to do so, or is Ethiopian correct and the agency is trying to pull a fast one? Not for me to sort out as it won't be needed again anyway. But I know the agency were making calculations regarding taxes and class of ticket and what seats were available. It all sounded reasonable but completely at odds with the airline information.
Ethiopian is considered to be the best airline in Africa, so there must be several reasons for that, and one of them is probably the customer service. And obviously the airline always have the upper hand over the travel agencies, because hey, they're the ones with the planes. And in places where the competition is bad or inexistant, they have even more power. Ethiopian's strong point, besides having the most modern fleet in the region (but perhaps they bought the 737-max a bit too quickly), is that most of their routes are east-west rather than north-south. Although that is changing as they continue to expand, just about all of the other main airlines are flying north-south and therefore not necessarily offering routes suited to a lot of the clientele.
It is also true that the travel agency had no choice but to make all of the calculations that they did, because besides not having access to all available seats and having to make do with what the computer system says, if they undercharge, the airline can hit them with a charge for the difference. That was my power where I worked, and I collected huge amounts from the travel agencies for their mistakes, which they could not collect from their customers in most cases because the trip had already taken place. I also had the option of closing my eyes and letting things pass, and I will admit that I became more and more lenient over the years as the fare rules became increasingly ridiculous and unfair.
The car is gone. A 'muzungu' (white man) decided to buy it of which more in a second. This was the advert I made and posted it in various places on the internet where expats in Zambia tend to congregate. I had various photos but the text was this - (there is a reference to Zesco, which is the Zambian electricity provider and the White Book which is the registration document) -
Pearl coloured petrol 2.7 litre Mitsubishi Pajero. Year of make – 2005. First registered in Zambia, November 2016. On White Book so tax paid. 98,000km. Automatic gearbox. Shod with Goodyear Wrangler tyres. Price $9,950 or Euro 9,000.
This is business class travel for 7 people, at an economy price. The car laughs in the face of the rainy season, pot holes and road works as being four wheel drive and high clearance. Load shedding makes no difference to it as the aircon and everything else works without reliance on Zesco. Queen Elizabeth said of the car, “The smooth ride makes it effortless to wave at my subjects”. President Putin was so impressed that he’s ordered several hundred for the KGB. Donald Trump said that as it was such a good car, he’d immediately impose tariffs on it. The Prime Minister of Australia said, “Strewth! It’s bonzer mate!” Rip Van Winkle and Sleeping beauty both failed to wake up on the bad sections of road near Mazabuka, Kaoma and Shesheke. Zambia airports authority wish to use the car as their business class lounge until the new terminal opens.
The car is serviced every 5000km, never broken down and regularly put up on ramps to check everything is as it should be. And it is. Nothing leaks, nothing is falling off, body, brakes and mechanics are sound and fit for purpose. An exceptional car and even though Mitsubishi Pajeros have won the Dakar Rally twelve times, I admit they didn’t do it in this actual car, hence it is worthy of the asking price. Tel: xxxxxxxxxxxx
The man phoned me up and wanted to see it. I was willing to take it to his office as it was only five minutes away. He had a look, said it looked good and would be willing to buy it but he wanted his pet mechanic to have a look. Ok, said I, and the mechanic on another day had a look. He declared it was good apart from a leaking shock absorber.
The man phoned me and said he would buy it if I got the shock absorber done. I gave the man a verbal list of all that was good, all the major items like engine, gearbox, transmission, electrics, bodywork etc etc and said, no I'm not doing it. Especially as there were other people asking about it. He said, ok, what about knocking some money off. I said, you are welcome to find an equivalent car at an equivalent price and buy that. I know there aren't any as obviously I'd done my research first to find the right price that was attractive but still fair to me.
He relented and eventually a contract was signed and the money transferred from his European account to our European account the full 9000 Euros. I met him today, signed the necessary paperwork and he took it away. It is actually for his wife to drive who unfortunately for him, keeps getting speeding tickets. It's the first time since I don't know when that I've had no cars at all.
By the way, the man and the mechanic somehow missed that the tyres are wearing unevenly and 'thrumbing' on a smooth tarmac road, the top suspension ball joints need changing and there is oil in the coolant water denoting a potential head gasket problem. Oh dear.
I always check the coolant for "Mayonnaise", a quick way to save heaps of dosh in a few months time. I also bounce over each wheel to get an idea of the suspension, have a look at the tail pipe for how the exhaust is running. Look for rust in the usual places and turn on the radio. If it is middle of the road stuff...OK. If it is headbanging at 120dB, no thanks, you probably have bogged all the dents.How come you have only done 98,000 in 15 years? Proper spare tyre and toolkit?
Travel! Set out and head for pastures new[br] Life tastes the richer when you’ve road worn feet.[br]Ibn Battuta[br]
I didn't have the car for 15 years. Only three(ish). This is the Zambian car that I bought when I got here. I've done forty thousand or so in it. I forgot to mention that at one hundred thousand the camshaft belt needs to be changed as well. That's a pretty penny to do and the mechanic never asked about it. The car came with a wheel brace and jack but I bought another of each to be sure. Never needed them but you could be sure I would have done had I not bought and extra one, and the original would have been crap, I bet. There were no dents in it and the only scratch it had, on the bumper, I covered with a reflective tape that is obligatory here. I bought some tools which I donated to an animal welfare society for their vehicles.