Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Driver charged over car door cyclist death

The man who opened a car door and caused a cyclist to fatally swerve into the path of a truck has been charged with the criminal charge "careless use of a motor vehicle causing death".


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Credit Card Merchant Accounts

A week or so back there was a discussion on one of the mailing lists I subscribe to about obtaining on-line merchant accounts for credit cards that would accept multiple currencies.

The answer is that New Zealand banks try to restrict their customers to only accepting NZ currency and place all kinds of barriers in the way of businesses that want to accept payments in foreign currency. No wonder so many smaller NZ businesses are forced into accepting paypal and incurring their relatively high merchant charges.

We're in a global economy and if you want to sell to people in larger countries you usually need to accept their currency. This is especially true of Americans and the English but also applies to a lesser extent to Europeans and even Australians. With information products I can sell globally, it only requires a few photons to go down the fibre cable to the world internet. Even for physical products its' possible to ship from New Zealand to the major markets of the world ... just ask the people who have been exporting cheese, meat and wool for the last 120 years.

Call me disloyal, but I get my business cards printed in Australia ... I simply can't find a New Zealand printer who can give me anything like the convenience and price of the Australian offering. They have a site and accept NZ Dollars, and it wasn't until I checked the whois on the domain before placing my first order that I even realised that I was dealing with a foreign company.

If you look at the US market, accepting credit cards is a competitive business and there are a lot of people offering this service. It took me under a minute to find Ms Merchant Account whose banner proclaims you can start accepting credit cards today with low discount rates and they are prepared to accept on-line transactions and foreign currency transactions.

So, why aren't our banks offering us services like this? Have they simply had a nod and a wink and decided not to compete?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Future of Christchurch?

The rescue operation is over. The end of recovery operation is in sight. The news media has long ended its  continuous coverage and the tone has changed from sharing our shock and reporting heroism to looking for scapegoats.

Christchurch residents are either working around the problems they are facing or are moving out of town.  Some are virtual refugees others have simply expedited already planned moves or for younger people gone on their OE to England a little earlier than they may have.

Meanwhile the centre of Christchurch is still cordoned off, but businesses have been given limited access to much of it to recover computers and vital business records. Thousands of homes have no water or sewerage and the Mayor of Christchurch used part of his press conference to talk about using chemical toilets.

Predictions are that at least ten thousand homes will have to be demolished and rebuilt and there are suggestions that entire suburbs will have to be abandoned because of the liquefaction problems so new land will be needed to build on. The Treasury has estimated that the total cost of the earthquake will be around 15 billion dollars and will take more than 4 years to rebuild Christchurch.

Meanwhile, Auckland has a large number of empty offices and shops, and builders are putting up more of these all the time only increasing presure. Every time I pass a building site, I think it would be wonderful if we could find a way to move the builders down to Canterbury, obviously someone would need to cover the out-of-pocket expenses of having them work remotely while having their homes here but I'm sure that problem can be solved.

Longer term, Christchurch will rebuild, but it's going to be a long hard slog and in the meanwhile they will need support and assistance from the rest of New Zealand.


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