Link to Profile Semperoper, Dresden Sieg (auf dem Siegesäule), Berlin Brandenburg Tor, Berlin Skyline, Frankfurt am Main

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Yes, Virginia, That is Lawn Furniture in the Living Room

The Partnerin and I have a number of Code Phrases to abbreviate and lend some obscurity to the key messages we pass to one another every day. "Number One," for example, is a discreet way of saying "I love you."

I've added another one to the list ... "Number Three" means, "You were right, Honey." The sofa that I ordered delivered, with all due confidence in German efficiency despite several years of experience to the contrary, went missing, despite the fact that the store assured us it was in stock. In fact, on delivery day, one person phoned me to tell me it was on its way, while another phoned the Partnerin to tell her it was missing. Now that is the hallmark of German efficiency!

I was ready to take these bozos to court since they had clearly breached the contract, including several representations in writing that the sofa was in stock and deliverable on a given date. I think the bozos simply sold our sofa to the next people who would take delivery immediately so they wouldn't have to store it for two weeks, figuring they could tell us to pound sand for 8 weeks, which is essentially what they told us to do. I wanted blood, or at least two days of lost wages for the time it would take to resolve this. The Partnerin simply wanted out of the contract so we could go find another sofa from another store. Only time (eight weeks) will tell if that was a correct way forward. Germans don't believe in inventory.

They also don't trust in their fellow countrymen to deliver the goods on time, which is why they frequently do things we Americans would find counterproductive, like pre-positioning goods for further delivery. The countertop the Partnerin had pre-delivered arrived safely in the new flat with the rest of our goods and was duly installed. Here you see it being worked around as the kitchen is installed. The kitchen looks pretty good for a combination of old and new, and as soon as it is cleared of boxes, etc. I might post an "after" picture of it. In the meantime, you'll have to imagine something a little tidier, since I can't find either of my cameras these days. Glad I offloaded these to the laptop while the boxes were still coming in.

In the meantime, the London-sofa has found good use here, and yes, that old college standby of lawn furniture has been put into effect. Now, if I could only find that pink flamingo!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Moving Day - Tech Time

Still alive, but up to my armpits in boxes. We move today into a smaller flat in the city. What we have done remains to be seen, but as you can see from the fact that I am posting this, some things actually seem to be working well.

Telekom, for example, arrived pretty much in the middle of the 8 am to 1 pm window they gave me. That might not seem like much, but the last time I moved Telekom showed up 10 minutes before I did, and was seen leaving as I arrived 5 minutes before that window. It was then another three weeks before we could reach a mutual agreement, and the shocker back then was that that was unnecessary since all they needed to do was re-configure at the central office. Three weeks offline ... worse than withdraw from heroin. Lesson learned.

So today I was a half-hour early, and like so many things in Germany, if you are on time, there will be no urgency. That's a clumsy way of saying that the only time things here actually run on time is when you are thirty seconds or more behind schedule. So, half an hour early, and the gods smiled on me by delivering the technician three hours later. Just as well, because he really had to do some wiring today since this is a new building.

Better still, we plug it all in and it all works. I even dare to plug in the router while he is still here ... he had been ready to run out the door, but I guess in a moment of pride in his work he hung around a few minutes later to see if the internet actually works. It does. This is the first good OOBE (out of box experience) I have had with Telekom in three moves and more than a few years. This is too easy!

The cynic in me can't wait to see the first invoice so I can see if the promised savings also arrive. I kept the 6MB DSL option with ISDN, but the package deal was for roughly EUR 54 per month versus what had been nearly 90 with the same configuration on my older contract. I had considered changing tarifs a couple times in the past year, but with Telekom it is usually safer to keep a working system as is and suffer the costs in silence. The move finally pushed me to throw the dice.

I've been in Germany too long to expect things to go without a hitch. This has been too easy!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Livng in Hope

I was at the end of my rope on Saturday morning when the counter-top for our new kitchen arrived. Yes, we have not yet moved, but the Partnerin insisted on having the countertop delivered to us now so that it could be included in the the truck for delivery at the new flat. I was at the end of my rope because one guy showed up in a truck to deliver it ... turns out the deal was that we had to offload it from the truck, and let me tell you that 4 meters of countertop can be pretty heavy.

Guess I am glad we didn't go for granite after all, although we chose something called Resopal in a granite pattern, which should look good in any case even though it isn't the real thing. At roughly EUR 45 per meter of length, it was about 33% more expensive than the typical countertops you pick up in a german Baumarkt. But in the great scheme of things I think we paid a total of EUR 220 for the coutertop plus finishing accessories to be delivered, so it wasn't so bad. That plus the new sink and fixtures plus total installation on moving day will place the total kitchen cost at roughly EUR 600.

This puts us EUR 15,400 better off than one of the Partnerin's friends, who spent that much more for a designer kitchen. Worse still, that was half-off the original price since it had been a display model. I've seen that kitchen and it was not worth anything near that. To make matters worse, their EUR 3000 Lieberr fridge has apparently broken down three times in the past four months. Good thing for her it was winter, and glad we went for an LG.

I think the friend will be somewhat envious when she sees the contertop, even though the appliances underneath are still the same crappy old ones we have had for years. Part of me is wishing I had insisted on a couple of new appliances, especially after reading about Mausi's dishwasher. Time will tell.

But on Saturday morning I ... we ... were faced with moving what felt like 75 kilos of 4-meter long countertop up a flight of stairs. These are the times where you see what your relationship is made of. I am bitchy at times like these, but we don't fight ... a testament largely to the Partnerin's patience, although I am mellowng somewhat in my middle age. I still bitch and whine, but I've learned to get it out of my system much faster. In the meantime, the countertop will live in the garage until moving day.

I'd like to say that I don't know what the partnerin was thinking, but I actually do. Germans have no faith in deliveries being on time. If you take Claire's sofa experience to heart, it is a wonder that they have any faith that even the right thing will be delivered at all. At this point I need a note to my self to pray that the sofa we ordered delivered to new flat is the right one ... I put my foot down on that one and don't know if that will pay off.

That's one diffrence between Germans and Americans that I am finally beginning to understand. Americans will arrange the logistics to have everything show up at the intended point of delivery. Germans will deliver to a staging point for further delivery as a package. Maybe not all Germans, but more than a few in my experience. I never understood why before now, but having experienced deliveries in Germany I am beginning to get it.

In the meantime, at least the Partnerin has the assurance that we have the right countertop, even if it does end up warping on the garage floor. Meanwhile, I will be living in hope that the right sofa shows up on schedule. I don't know which set of worries is better.