Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Car Rental Fees Update

So here is how my car rental looked:

The ACTUAL charge was like $142 for the week. “Fees” and taxes came to an additional $76.85. It is SO misleading when you are quoted a car rental price and it doesn’t include those charges until the final tally. It’s OK for me, it’s just what I have to do, but I remember being young, and when an extra almost $77 might have been a really bad surprise.

The check-in person asked me how I liked the car – a Ford Focus. I told her I hated it. I know it’s being advertised as ‘better than Toyota’ but it isn’t. It drives like a boat. It is clunky feeling, and it doesn’t get great pick-up. When I first got in, I had to drive those extra narrow, extra fast lanes on Seattle’s crowded I-5 going North, and it was raining and water is swooshing off the tops of trucks (who were passing me) and I just hated the car.

Toyotas are more nimble. Toyotas have better pick-up. You know, I would rather like to buy American, but first the automakers have to show me that they have a car that makes you happy to be driving.

People kid me about my Rav4, that it’s a young people’s car, but you know, I love the way it drives, I love the way it grips the road and goes anywhere, and still remains small enough and nimble enough to park in a tiny little spot. It has a much bigger feel, and is so comfortable. The Ford Focus is just clunky.

BTW, I asked the check in person if it was legal for me to rent a car for a week to get the better rate and then to turn it in early. She just laughed and said “It’s not illegal; it’s SMART!”

January 23, 2011 Posted by | Adventure, Financial Issues, Living Conditions, Marketing, Seattle, Technical Issue, Travel | 2 Comments

Scams: 419’s

My good friend John Lockerbie, from Catnaps sent me this great link on scams this morning. One of the sections has hilarious photographs of the scammers – sent by scammers to reassure potential victims of their authenticity. This is from their section describing how you can identify a scamming letter or e-mail:

Information quoted from the US Secret Service Web Site.

4-1-9 Schemes frequently use the following tactics:
An individual or company receives a letter or fax from an alleged “official” representing a foreign government or agency.
An offer is made to transfer millions of dollars in “over invoiced contract” funds into your personal bank account.
You are encouraged to travel overseas to complete the transaction.
You are requested to provide blank company letterhead forms, banking account information, telephone/fax numbers.
You receive numerous documents with official looking stamps, seals and logo testifying to the authenticity of the proposal.
Eventually you must provide up-front or advance fees for various taxes, attorney fees, transaction fees or bribes.
Other forms of 4-1-9 schemes include: c.o.d. of goods or services, real estate ventures, purchases of crude oil at reduced prices, beneficiary of a will, recipient of an award and paper currency conversion.
Nigerian Advance Fee Fraud Overview

The perpetrators of Advance Fee Fraud (AFF), known internationally as “4-1-9” fraud after the section of the Nigerian penal code which addresses fraud schemes, are often very creative and innovative.
Unfortunately, there is a perception that no one is prone to enter into such an obviously suspicious relationship. However, a large number of victims are enticed into believing they have been singled out from the masses to share in multi-million dollar windfall profits for doing absolutely nothing. It is also a misconception that the victim’s bank account is requested so the culprit can plunder it — this is not the primary reason for the account request — merely a signal they have hooked another victim.
In almost every case there is a sense of urgency.
The victim is enticed to travel to Nigeria or a border country.
There are many forged official looking documents.
Most of the correspondence is handled by fax or through the mail.
Blank letterheads and invoices are requested from the victim along with the banking particulars.
Any number of Nigerian fees are requested for processing the transaction with each fee purported to be the last required.
The confidential nature of the transaction is emphasized.
There are usually claims of strong ties to Nigerian officials.
A Nigerian residing in the U.S., London or other foreign venue may claim to be a clearing house bank for the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Offices in legitimate government buildings appear to have been used by impostors posing as the real occupants or officials.

The most common forms of these fraudulent business proposals fall into the following main categories:

Disbursement of money from wills
Contract fraud (C.O.D. of goods or services)
Purchase of real estate
Conversion of hard currency
Transfer of funds from over invoiced contracts
Sale of crude oil at below market prices

You can read much much more at this website: 419 eater

January 23, 2011 Posted by | Africa, Scams | Leave a comment