The news continues to be full of stories around the Global Economy and how companies increasingly operate independent of national boundaries – so that one could be forgiven for believing that we really do live in a global economy.
However, as my current experience of relocating to a “First World” country – England – shows, where one would expect that things do operate in this way, the reality is very different and the Global Economy seems a long way off.
Certainly, some things work well – one can move money between bank accounts across multiple geographies easily (provided, of course, your accounts are all with one bank, otherwise it’s far more complicated). Mobile telephones also operate well across boundaries, although you pay handsomely for making and receiving calls when away from the country where your phone is registered – profiteering, perhaps?
However, the rather large holes in this Global Economy story (myth?) have really been exposed when trying to establish myself with the basics here.
- Renting a home – this is far from simple. You have to get credit reference agencies involved and they require enormous amounts of information. Simply giving them details of your bank/s and relationship managers isn’t enough: you have to do all the leg work yourself.
- Insurance – amazingly, motor insurance companies apparently don’t give credit for a no-claims driving record in countries like Dubai (an extremely challenging environment as anyone who has driven there will attest), although they are happy to do so for comparatively tame driving countries like New Zealand, so no more no-claims bonus on motor insurance…
- Telephones – it took me a week to establish that I COULD get Blackberry Services on a Pay As You Go basis (I was told by some mobile operators and some phone shops that this was impossible for the first week, but kept researching until I found it could be done).
In fact, for most general things (even using your new bank account’s debit card) the over-riding requirement is for a local Post Code (you’re asked for this the whole time), so if you’re still trying to set things up and don’t yet have a fixed abode, you end up having to borrow a post code and address from a willing friend or relative for even simple transactions.
Why is it, that with a 30+ year history of banking, credit, insurance, telephone, etc., etc., usage in countries like South Africa and Dubai (countries that have “First World” standards of traceability on such things) I have to start over? One would think this information would be available to the relevant companies and authorities in other countries, but it seems to be only the case for adverse information and anyone else is “guilty until they prove themselves innocent.”
So much for the Global Economy – or is it just a case of laziness and profiteering?
P.S. This relocation process is, of course, the reason for my lack of blogs recently – I hope to be back to regular blogging in September.
Regular readers will notice the banner picture change to reflect my new home…