Royal Bank of Canada Customer Service – A new corporate priority

Hmm, after a near 40 year relationship with the Royal Bank of Canada, I receive a letter from them saying (short version) a banking relationship requires trust on both sides, and we no longer feel that trust both ways. They cancel all my accounts and credit.
I’ve never, to the best of my knowledge, done anything inappropriate in my banking. This letter comes out of the blue, with no prior issues of any kind with the Royal Bank of Canada or any other bank. As one can expect, I write to them, and ask them why they take such a view. What pray tell is their reply?    It is …… we don’t have to tell you…. yep…. we don’t have to tell you. Sure, I allow that as a matter of law they don’t have to tell me, but as a matter of basic human conduct it’s the decent thing to do. It’s been almost 40 years! I recall as a little boy taking my piggy bank there with my parents and grandparents to open my first bank account. I was so very proud as a little fellow. I didn’t hold it against them when they commingled my account with my dad’s account, even though our names are spelled quite differently. I had dealt with them for my entire life. I write to them and tell them that we’ve dealt with each other for life, and that a basic courtesy is to tell me why they no longer wish to do business, and why they don’t they want to maintain that relationship, and their reply is in the nature of . … we don’t have to tell you. I go to the banking ombudsman, again looking only for a reason for this decision, and get the same reply … They don’t have to tell you. I can allow that this is so. Fair enough as a matter of law you don’t have to tell anyone what your reason is for any business action, but as a matter of practise, well, I would have thought after 40 years you’d have the courtesy to at least be fair, which includes being up front about what your issue is. nice job guys. RBC sucks.

Our national parks – Credit cards or don’t go there

While on our honeymoon in beautiful Ucluelet, B.C. Claire and I thought we’d do a bit of hiking in the nearby National Park called the Pacific Rim National Park. Claire and I are both Canadians, born and raised so to speak, but not particularly the athletic types. Okay, long walks are alright, and occassionally straight up a hill, but not all the time. I say this to observe that we are what I would describe as average walkers, just wanting to drive to the park and walk around a little.
I’ve wandered off a bit in the story, so let me say that we hop in the car and drive to the park, a few clicks down the road. We pass a sort of administration building, but it appears to be closed, and there’s no sign to suggest that we should stop there. We get to the parking lot where a short hike is alleged to be available, and there…. well… there’s where the problem starts. On pulling into the lot, there is a sign directing us to buy a ticket. I think it’s about $8.00 each. That’s okay, not going to break the bank or anything, and I’ve got the cash to pay it. But…. (yeah, there’s usually a … but … in there or I wouldn’t be writing the article” you have to have a credit card. No, not a debit card, not cash, but a credit card. The machine will only take a credit card. Respectfully, as North Americans, there’s too much reliance on credit, and we just got a good look at what excessive reliance on credit does with the crash the U.S. suffered, and our National Park requires it? I do have a credit card, but I don’t take it everywhere with me, and I didn’t have it with me, and frankly would have been annoyed at having to use it. What’s wrong with cash? Vending machines take it. What’s wrong with debit? Just about everything takes that. My credit card, no, it’s back in our room. We left.

Secret Investigations of Secret Suspects with Secret Witnesses

I was reading a news report today,  from the Canadian Press.  You can find it here: http://www.castanet.net/edition/news-story-124935-4-.htm#124935

It was a story about the federal goverment having a plan to expand the powers CSIS presently has, so as to guard against terrorist threats here in Canada.

What particularly bothered me was the following:

“The federal plan to bolster security powers follows a recent statement from the RCMP that the national police force has about 63 active investigations on 90 suspected extremists who intend to join fights abroad or who have returned to Canada.

Extending protection for informants could mean defence counsel and even judges would never have the right to question human sources who provide information on behalf of CSIS in court proceedings — such as when the government attempts to deport a suspected terrorist using a national security certificate.”

Does this read a little like Mcarthy’ism?   What’s it take to get on this list of persons to be investigated?   What sort of real test is applied?   This does not sound like the stuff of a free and democratic society to me.  It sounds instead like skulking about by boys with a bit of authority, and a real vested interest in finding targets.    Canada and the US have each had a long history of Mcarthyism like conduct.   I am saddened to see that we continue to repeat it.

For a primmer on Mcarthyism, here’s a nice wikipedia article:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mcarthyism

 

City of Vernon and Professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) – We’re a little bit safer

It’s a sunday afternoon as I write this.  I’m watching some Professional MMA (UFC) on Sportsnet 360.  It’s a great card, some well known fighters and some up and comers.  It’s also about one month after the Mayor and Council Members for the City of Vernon, British Columbia, Canada voted to pass a bylaw to prevent Professional MMA events in the City of Vernon.  You can find the bylaw here.

I’m a fan of MMA.  Great stuff, a growing sport, getting lots of television coverage, and clubs springing up all over teaching the skills that are the foundation for it.   It’s great to see.

As I understand it, in large measure this move to ban Pro MMA in the City of Vernon was based on the representation of Reg Burgess, the Superintendant of the RCMP in Vernon.  They (Vernon RCMP) say that they are concerned about links to organized crime associated with Pro MMA.  These are secret concerns, in that we as members of the public don’ t get to hear them.  They are disclosed to council only, by way of a closed door meeting.  Have there been criminal convictions associated with those running Pro MMA, or amongst the fighters?  Although Criminal convictions are a matter of public record, we don’t hear that these are the basis for Mr. Burgess representations on behalf of the RCMP in Vernon.  Soooo, I guess his concerns are based on unproven things?  Hunches, conjecture??  I dunno, it’s all too clever for me.   As a citizen, I’m just glad that they’re looking out for it and for me.   But…. I’m watching these MMA Professional fights, almost 5 hours of them, and they were held in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Yep, right here in Canada!   I’m worried about those citizens, the ones in Halifax!   Are they aware of these risks, the ones that the Mayor and Council for the City of Vernon were able to identify?   Were the Mayor and Council of Halifax informed of these terrible risks, that must prevent the holding of a Pro MMA event?

I watched the whole show, really enjoyed it.  Other that the fights in the ring I didn’t see any trouble.  I also havent’ heard in the news of any riots or other activity (hmm, I guesss because it’s not a hockey game??) occuring in the stadium or on the streets afterwards.  As I watched, I observed that Boston Pizza was a sponsor for the match.    I’ve seen Jim Treliving,  an ex RCMP officer, whom I understand to now be the CEO of Boston Pizza on the Dragon’s Den many times.    He’s a pretty straight up guy and really tries to help out the new business people that appear on the show, and I know they sponsor a lot of teams all over Canada.  Another sponsor was FRAM.   I think they make oil filters?    Scotia Bank was also a sponsor.   Scotia Bank is certainly a reputable company, they even sponsored Cricket teams, including Canada’s National Team (a subject very near and dear to my girl’s heart).

So I’m left wondering, does this sea of criminality in Professional MMA not extend elsewhere?   Or did the RCMP in Halifax not see fit to inform Council there?    What are the specifics of these concerns?   I dunno, this is for the members of council in the City of Vernon to figure out, and the Mayor too.  I’m just left knowing that I’m a little bit safer.  I think??   Hmm. I dunno?

 

Update:  2018.09.15   I hit the press a bit when I spoke up about this bylaw.   I had not wanted to.  In fact I really tried to avoid it- head down, look at the floor, come a bit early and just take your seat.   But since then I’ve been a bit haunted by comments like one from J. Pratt (whom I’ve never met) who said:

J. Pratt

Did everyone miss the irony of the fact that the only person to speak in favour of MMA events is someone with ties to organized crime?

That’s what he said. I’ve thought about this at some length, and to this I reply:

I have considered some of the comments here for some time. Wow, almost 4 years in fact. That may seem a little petty, not having much else to focus on in life? I’m not suggesting that I’ve non-stop been thinking about this, but when people come out with clever and anonymous comments those comments have an effect. I think an explanation is in order. I was well aware of the parallels that could be drawn as I made the comments that I did before city council. When I went to this council meeting I had hoped to be as anonymous as I could. I didn’t wear a sign or badge that said “gang lawyer”. I walked in quietly, tried to keep my head down in case anyone recognized me, and didn’t plan on saying anything. I had heard that city council was going to vote on a matter that concerned me, being a ban on professional mixed martial arts. Now say what you will about gangs and mixed martial arts, but I just don’t see them as being synonymous. Apparently the police in Vernon do. They are concerned enough that they make a secret presentation to council that got this whole thing started. We don’t get to hear what the concerns that they had are, that’s all “in camera”, meaning you’re never able to know it. I just heard they were having a vote to ban any MMA professional bouts in Vernon, and I thought “hey I like MMA, I think it’s a heck of a sport.” I’ve watched hundreds of matches on the TV, and have been able to attend one while on holiday in Mexico. I had tried to attend another in Vernon but the match didn’t go ahead. I believe the reason it didn’t go ahead was a lack of ticket sales? In all of those matches that I’ve watched I’ve never seen a gang symbol of any sort that I recognized. I haven’t heard any slogans/phrases that seemed to be associated to gangs, not a single one. There was never, at the close of hundreds of matches that I’ve watched, an announcement of the victory of this or that gang. I hear more gang associated stuff from professional wrestling, and no one in the world ties anything of meaning to that. The ghost of Al Capone did not call me up and say “hey, gang lawyer who’s been disgraced publicly, run down to city hall and try to oppose this bylaw that prevents our gang fund raising.” What kind of strategy would that be?? It in effect undermines the very thing you’re trying to accomplish?? Yes, I knew that. I’m not dull witted. So I went to the council meeting with every intention of being as anonymous as I could, but hoped to be in silent support of whoever might speak up against what I see as a really misguided and discriminatory bylaw. I sat quietly in my seat, I got there early as I thought that the mixed martial arts clubs in town (small struggling businesses to be sure, no sign of gang involvement that I’ve been able to detect) might put in a good presence and I wanted to be able to sit down as my back hurts if I stand for too long. I had thought there would be some lengthy debate. What happened….. No one showed up and no one stood up. Not one person spoke up. They asked if anyone had comment and there was complete silence. None of the members of Vernon city council said anything in opposition, none of the pubic said anything, silence. I looked around, and looked around, and the time to make any reply was about to be gone, so I stood up. I knew full well the parallels that would be drawn. I expected that I may well be recognized and ridiculed due to the “gang lawyer” association, but I really thought this bylaw was discriminatory and misguided and surely someone should say something???? So I did. I spoke for about a minute and a half, and talked about how I enjoyed the sport, and that there were clubs in the city that practised this very sport, to become skilled, and in some cases become professional, and how the money that was involved was so very small at the level that we would see here in Vernon, not ever even coming close to covering gym costs, and it fell on utterly deaf ears. The “in camera” presentation by the RCMP apparently had devastating effect. I was not asked a single question. No one else stood up and spoke, and Vernon city council voted 100% in favour of the bylaw, and there’s not been a professional mixed martial art bout in Vernon since then.

So there’s my explanation. I don’t see too much that’s “Ironic” in that, but I guess if you’re desperate to find it and very clever maybe you’ll get there. I note that there has never been, to the best of my knowledge, a professional mixed martial arts event in Vernon, so the whole thing is a bit of a tempest in a tea pot I guess. The one that tried failed due to a lack of ticket sales.

Public Washrooms – what is the attraction?

I’m at Save on Foods in Vernon, doing some grocery shopping.  I kind of like grocery shopping.  It helps get some meal ideas going, gets me out amongst people, it’s a good activity.    I’m finding that I need to use the washroom, and no, it’s not just to wash my hands.    Now I don’t know about you, but I usually do not think all that favourably about public washrooms.  They are often dirty, unkept, but it’s the people that drive me over the edge!  Yes, it’s the people that drive me over the edge.   The ones that use the public washrooms I mean!

How about the guy at the Provincial Campground that was sitting in the only stall, with a little boy waiting outside (who was looking more and more distressed to use the washroom) and me, while he..   yep, was reading the newspaper.   How do I know he was reading the newspaper?   I looked through the little gaps in the panneling.   What!  Great Scott, you peeked?  Yes, you’re darn right I did, and I saw this perfect twit sitting on the only stall reading the newpaper,while people are lining up to use it.   (Okay, he’d didn’t get to sit there for much longer at all, but the point is that he was doing it!)

And then there’s the guy at the gas station.  I agree, gas stations are just the worst, but if you gotta go that’s how it is.  I wait at the door, and wait, and wait and then I start pounding on the door.   If I’m standing outside in a state of extreme discomfort I’ll be darned if I’m having someone sit in a state of comfort on the other side of the wall.   After a lot of pounding, this urchin walks out.   He`s in another world, but he`s out.  I`m desperate, and there`s no time for chat, so I charge straight in, and there`s blood.  Yeah.. blood, dude`s been shooting up.   You complete a**, you`re getting high to feel good, or feel better, or whatever, (doing a thing you choose) while I`m a prisoner of my own innards standing outside that stupid door waiting for you?!?  I’d really rather that he ws doing his thing at the park bench rather than hogging the only washroom available.   I think perhaps using the washroom is about the most self centred thing that people ever do.  You may be the brightest person in the world, but if you’re needing to pee, you have one thought, and one thought only… I’ve gotta go!

I digress, what about my experience at the Vernon Save On Foods Washroom?  Well, I made my way to the far end of the store, really having by this point an urgency to attend to the washroom and…. it was signed as “Out of Order”.   That’s the guys door.   I try to be resourceful, and look to the Women’s door.  I beleive that women have a number of the same bodily functions that I may have.    AND…..it’s signed…. “Out of Order”.     I look around, and there’s not a soul, not a person or any stripe or description, moving in the area.    Cripes guys, you’re running a business where a thousand plus people a day come in your doors.   Every single one of them has various bodily functions that are percolating away, and both of your bathrooms are out of order??  When my bathroom at home goes “out of order”  I get on it immediately.  I fix it.   Have you ever been to someone’s house and been told the bathroom is out of order?   Are you kidding me??  FIX IT!!!  There’s really not that many things you can do to fix a bathroom, and all are pretty readily accessible to the most untrained of persons.    Leave a plunger near the door and I’ll fix it for heaven’s sake!

I don’t know when someone fixed the washrooms at Save On Foods ..  I really couldn’t stand around, and… I had to go

Is it just me? London Drugs? What happened?

So on friday I go into London Drugs in Vernon.  It’s a good store, or I’ve always thought so, and I’m there to get a TV.   My TV broke, and Claire wants to get another TV.  So do I, but I’m not exactly a person of means these days!  In any case, we go to London Drugs to get a TV that is on sale and is listed in the flyer that just came out.  It’s the first day of the sale.   We ask for the TV referred to in the flyer, and we’re told they don’t have any, none came off the truck.     This is disappointing, but the sales fellow very helpfully checks to see if any other stores have some.  They do!  Great!, how long till it’s here?   The answer… a week?  Yep, a week.  I’m not living in the wilderness here, the nearest other London Drugs store is about 45 kilometres down the road.   Okay, we are willing to go pick it up.  The salesman very helpfully calls the Kelowna store, and arranges for one to be held for us.  Great service, thank you!  But…. why doesn’t the store have one of the TV’s that is in the flyer?   I ask to purchase the floor model of the on sale item, it looks to be in good shape (I’m looking for a price reduction as it’s not in a box and has been running for who knows how long), but I’m told he can’t make that arrangement.     Alright, we’re set.  We’ll go on sunday.

Sunday comes….  we get to the store, and they have the TV.  Fantastic.  That transaction goes well.  But… (why is there always a but??)   I’m also wanting an extended phone cord.  About 15 feet or so.  I go to that department, and there’s a spot for 6 foot ones, and a spot for 12 foot ones, both well populated with stock, but the spots for the next two sizes up are completely empty.   What?  There was a run on long phone cords on this particular day?  This seems unlikely.  When I encounter stores with a lot of empty spots where stock is supposed to be I become concerned about what’s going on at that store.   A big part of what lures me to brick and mortar stores (instead of the at home easy shopping bonus of ebay!) is the availability of the item right then, not later, not when it comes in, but right now.  When that’ not there, as it was not on two shopping inquiries most recently with London Drugs, I’m left wondering..  What happened??  But…..

Yes, there’s really another but!   A few days later I drop by London Drugs to return a battery.   I’d been by to get one for my mom’s telephone.  The clerk was very helpful, but the battery that we thought would work didn’t fit.  Don’t get me wrong here, the sales clerk did a great job, excellent customer service, but I had to return the thing.  I was okay with that.  On entering the Vernon store, I saw a large sign over a counter, saying “returns and exchanges, customer service”.  It’s a really big sign.  I get in line behind someone who seems to be purchasing all their groceries for the month.   That’s okay.  Then I get to the counter, and say I want to return something.  The clerk looks at me, looks at the item, and says “you go to electornics for that”.  I say “I want to return it.”  She says “you go to electronics for that”.   Why the heck did I just stand in a line under the sign that says returns and exchanges??  I dunno, maybe I just don’t get these things.

Odd advertising practices of Vernon Restaurants

So on August 18, 2014 I was down on Kal Lake Road in Vernon, BC , and wanted to order some pizza.   I of course consider Uncle Dave’s pizzeria, which is located on Kal Lake Road.  I go online to have a look at their menu, and I can’t.  I can’t even find a website, let alone a menu.   I look online at tripadvisor.ca (a great site that I use a lot) and see some good reviews for a place called Margheritas Pizza.  Again I’m interested, and click on a link for their website.  It seems that their website no longer exists, or perhaps never did?   It’s pizza, it’s an order it to your home sort of thing, and yet there’s no online presence at all?   I’m pretty sure that they have access to the internet from the shop, or at least have personal web access accounts, why not set something up through those?  I dunno, just seems a bit odd.

Finally I order from Uncle Dave’s – Two “meat Eaters”.   45 Minutes later, only one shows up.  I was very clear when I ordered, I wanted two, not one, two…      Sigh.  By this time I’m a bit frustrated, and refuse the order.

I decide to order from Jim’s Pizza http://jimsplacepizza.com/  (which is further away, but has a good web presence, and I’ve ordered from them before – it arrives (both pizza’s!) in about 35 minutes.  Thanks guys!

Hitchbot makes it to Victoria

I see on the news that the device known as hitchbot (sort of a walking computer looking thing, without having any real mobility) has traveled across Canada.   The couple that sent it on its way, by setting it up on the side of the highway with its thumb out, hoped that it would have numerous rides on its way, and it did.  An interesting social experiment I think, though an experiment of what I’m not entirely sure.

The above posting was made on August 18, 2014. As of August 3, 2015 I am informed that Hitchbot was torn to pieces while in Philadelphia, USA. What the he&& is wrong with people?