Quicking Tax

Its funny that I have just bought the book “Beat the Taxman”, have a meeting with the accountants on Thursday to do guess what – yes, BEAT the taxman, and yet if a Gallup Poll is done on me right now on who has the best customer service in Canada within my experience, it will be…err..the taxman!

Ah well, Murphy’s Law at its best. The taxman’s officers have been the nicest, most helpful people on the other side of the line. They have been prompt, informative and very accomodating to all your stupid, appear stupid, appear intelligent or not-so-stupid-nor-intelligent questions you have since the fiscal year is ending. They often pronounced my name wrong – I had an ‘Okanita’ a few moments ago but hey, I don’t mind a wince because she was helpful and informative, as would any other front service officers should. Unlike….jeng jeng jeng….yes, a rant is coming. Those who are up for a feel-good Oprah style post – go ahead and change channels.

I had the most horrendous customer service experience with the not-so-quick people at Quickbooks. In North America, Quickbooks is supposed to be one of the top selling accounting software (yes, my love-hate relationship with accounting ensues!) and I was rather pleased with it on my first day of use. Then came the 2nd day. I tried to launch it, and a .dll file was missing. So kaput it goes, and there’s no reason to panic. My tech-geek,software engineer who lives, showers and sleep-talk-in-programming-codes husband is always the first to convince me to never rely on technology. And so I didn’t.

I called the customer service number and went literally, from Canada, to India, to US, to Canada and then back to India in 1 hour 45 minutes of talk time. I am not kidding.They had problems from not being able to trace my registry account with them, to not being able to understand how a Windows parallel desktop work on a Mac, to not knowing that a “XXX Crescent’ literally means that – and do not have a ‘street’ or ‘avenue’ comes with it (this unforgivable dumb and dumber faux pas was made by the call centre down south of where I am now ), to making me repeat everything I said 5 times over (in many different accents so they can understand me) and oh yes, the missing .dll file! I can go on and on, but you will be bored. At the end of the day, I cannot believe how much manhour were spent on me, and cost, and my own time over what I deem as, a very simple technical problem. And I thought the call centre standards CAME from North America. I think SingTel does it waaayy better. There.

Now with all this experience, the taxman appear like angels. But seriously, their service officers were a delight to deal with. Then again, who am I kidding. So does the VISA call centre girls, no?

I seem to forget that all who collects money are usually devils with a Rachael Ray grin.

Of cold cities

And so I am finally back in the quiet, serene world of Ruskin. The sounds of water flowing from the creek behind our yard never sounded so beautiful, and peace in the country seems so alluring.

10 days, 3 cities and almost many meetings later is no fun for anyone.It felt like the Duracell Bunny, on and on and on. I hardly had time to get out of the hotel in Washington DC, a whopping total of 5 hours was all I had,that is also because we had to get out of the hotel food cycle. There is only so much crabcakes I can take, delicious as they were.

We had great meetings in Washington, the summit was fruitful but the toll on our coordination skills were killing. There were times when a colleague who was with me addressed a NatGeo executive as a Discovery director, you get the idea. Shows we have done slipped like butter, and my HappyBerry did not help (that’s Blackberry for you non-geeks). I soon learn to hate that red flashing light indicating an incoming email or SMS, while you are thick in a meeting.

Montreal, I must say is gorgeous. The fashion is marvellous. It was a good thing I was focused not to shop, or I would have hurt my wallet. I did succumb and bought a silver belt but other than that, the snow falling on old ancient buildings facing wrought-iron statues, nestled in between oak benches were romantic enough. Sad that I was walking with ZB, we were both drowned in thoughts on how we wish our husbands were with us instead.

The big surprise was Toronto. My Singaporean instinct used logic to predict the weather, so I thought Montreal being way east would be welcoming me with a nasty winter . I was warned of frozen eyelashes when one visit Montreal in winter.

But I was wrong. Toronto, as energetic as it is – came blasting with -30 degrees. The windchill were biting, it felt like a bulldog who refused to let go of your leg. We dont walk in Toronto, we jog. TV news warned of frostbites, and the idea of having a finger chopped off while walking in the streets is not very funny.

Back in Vancouver, the 8 degrees is oh-so-warm. Like hot chocolate with marshmallows. Yes, THAT warm. Delishhh…

Someone from Singapore recently asked why Canadians like to talk about the weather. Oh well.

My niece got her O level results yesterday. I was as anxious as her, even though 18,000 miles away. I fell sleep and was woken up by her call at midnight and her tears. No fun, this O levels !Couldn’t sleep, and kept thinking of her options. When I asked her what she wanted to do and liked, she said journalism.

Oh dear. What have I done. But I know my niece, she has a lot of spunk and I know that didn’t come from me. She had always been a hyper kid since young. She thinks she is not a writer, and I am adamant that she is. She is. Mark my words.

What an exciting time for her, I wish I am a teen again. At least, I dont have to travel through cold cities in winter and be warm to people all at the same time 🙂