Posts Tagged ‘cars’

Ahhhhh, summertime in Chile. Time for beach vacations, camping in the mountains, and sitting in long lines for your annual Permiso de Circulacion. This little slip of paper is basically a statement that your car’s shit is in order. To get it, you need a safety/emissions inspection, which takes about 30 minutes and costs about $30, and mandatory “SOAP” insurance, which for the BobMobile, costs about $20 per year. With these slips of paper you take them to your city municipality of choice, pay a fee of another $20 or so, and get them to breed them into new pieces of paper which nobody ever looks at anyways.

Well, that is, if the municipalities have their shit together, which they do not. Normally all of this paper breeding must take place before the end of March. And in normal Chileno fashion, everyone waits until the last minute to do it.

So my first attempt, on the 29th of January, there was no line. Great. However, after sitting at the desk and presenting my papers, the lady told me, “These don’t expire until February.”

Oh no, another desk zombie… So I say, “Yes, I know, but February is in two days, and I am here early. Let’s just get it done, please.”

“Sorry, I can’t. You will have to come back in February,” the zombie replies, as if it is some long-distant holiday months away.

“Seriously?” I ask her.

“Sorry.”

“There is no other way?” I ask her.

“No.”

“Really? Come on now, this has got to be a joke.”

“No.”

Well shit. So, resisting the urge to decapitate her so she cannot bite others and infect them with her zombie plague virus, I collect my papers and go home to mope and rage in solitude. Perhaps she should be boxed up in her coffin and sent to Uruguay where she belongs.

The following week, I go back to the same office, IN FEBRUARY, in an attempt to repeat the process. I wait in line for an hour. Then when it is finally my turn, a new desk zombie tells me that the computer systems aren’t even ready yet, the prices for the 2014 taxes have not even been decided yet, and that I should come back next week.

So I hold down my lid so it doesn’t flip, and ask the guy plainly, “Why do I even bother to be responsible?”

He shrugs.

“Seriously. You demand that we have all of our things in order, by a set deadline, and yet you fail on your end completely, making our effort worthless and effectively turning the responsible people of Chile into Argentines,” to which all activity in the office came to a screeching halt, all heads turned, and everyone started listening.

“This is a disaster,” I continued, “I have wasted hours of my time, not just this once, but this is the second time I have been here and you have been unprepared to do your jobs. Why do you even open this office if you cannot process anything here?” to which he had no answer. Deer in headlights. “Why don’t you have a sign out front?” no answer. “Why are you even here?” no answer.

So I left. It’s cheaper for me at this point to do it Argentino, scoff at the regulations, and just let the fines accumulate and deal with them when the government removes head from ass. If I ever deal with them.

Then there’s the new parking drama.

My deal with parking where I keep my car is that I pay the gastos comunes for the owner of the space, and he lets me park there (he has no car). I inherited the space from the seller of the car, when he left Chile to go back to Canada. I simply picked up where he left off. It’s convenient, close to my apartment, cheaper than any other available spaces downtown, and it works out fine. Well, it *has* until recently.

A few days ago there was a big whoop-de-doo when the gringo with the red jeep finally showed up to drive his car, having not been seen for a couple of months. Normally this would not have been a problem, seeing as how when I first took over the space there was a big whoop-de-doo concerning whether or not I would keep it, because despite notifying EVERYONE INVOLVED, nobody seemed to retain this information, and they thought I would be leaving and had already lined up another renter for the space. And, another “normally this would not have been a problem” details: they had my email address from that point forward, written down, so that they could contact me if anything should come into question.

“Dios mio, we’re glad we found you!” they exclaimed, “Your payments on the parking space are in arrears.”

Hmm, I think to myself, I don’t think so, but I’ll check when I get home. “Give me a list of the missed payments and I’ll have a look.”

So they do, and I do, and I find that like a responsible gringo, I have paid all the time, on time, never missed a beat, and I have receipts of all the transactions going back an entire year and then some. So I email said pile of receipts to the administrador.

This does not go over well, because apparently in addition to claiming the guy’s gastos comunes weren’t paid on time, they shut off his power and water a couple of times thinking that the payments were in arrears. Which is BS, because every time I sent the money, via the bank’s website, it sent an email not only to myself, but to the administrador.

So they claim they had no way of contacting me, yet they have several of those past email receipts with my email on them. And my email which I gave them a year ago during the first big whoop-de-doo. Anyways, long story short, they have to eat crow and fix their shitty accounting. HOWEVER–

Then I received emails from both the administrador and the apartment owner in stern language talking about how every payment must be on time and yadda yadda yadda. When I have proven without argument that it was never my fault. So I sent them both a reply explaining (for the second time) that I had never missed a beat, never had to be asked, and if there was any problem it was because of poor accounting, poor communication, and poor office organization in general, clarifying further points that any and all multas (fines) for late payment be refunded to those accused, and that my intent was to keep the parking space for eternity, until otherwise stated.

I then received a nice email from the owner, in agreement and accord, for he now knew the game, and an email from the administrador asking for calmer heads to prevail. Obviously the administrador was attempting to save face by blaming it all on the gringo, and had no idea he was fluent in Spanish and could dish it out as well as they could.

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I went out to do some fixing up on the new BobMobile. It needed a new passenger side mirror because the old one took a dive off the side while I was adjusting it. It literally jumped off its little mounting bracket complete with cartoonlike popping sound, because it jammed up on something while the motor kicked it off the car. I watched it go, amazed.

Did it fall and survive, like countless cel phones and other breakable objects dropped from the same distance? No, of course not. It hit just right and shattered into a million tiny bits, and after I put it back on, it was worse than not having it at all, like looking at my blind spot through the compound eye of an insect. With one human eye and one insect eye. BrundleFlyEyeBob.

Anyhow, I went to the car repair part of downtown to see if I could find a replacement mirror, get a leaky tire fixed, and see about finding a new remote control for the car alarm, because the buttons on the old one bit the dust and all I can make it do now is panic and not let me start the damned car without hotwiring it. Meaning I have to disassemble the remote and short connections on it to re-enable the starter. Fun.

At some point I will tell you about the car repair part of town. Which is now.

So you go there, and it is chaos. Bad traffic, cars in and out of everywhere, driving and parking on the sidewalk, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria. First thing I see is a guy waving a broken mirror at me. I nod to him, and he motions for me to pull over. So I do. He takes a look, pops the mirror off, and says he will be right back. “How much you think it will cost?” I ask to his back as he runs off. Ah well, maybe he just stole a broken mirror. I know what is coming when he gets back– chamullos. MirrorBob returns in a few minutes with a nice new replacement for the old mirror, pops it in, and then tells me an absurd price, which I knew was coming. I laugh at him. “For that much I could get the whole assembly with the motor and everything.”

“Nah, that would run you at least 60,000.” he replies.

“Bullshit. Because I went yesterday and checked and they told me it was worth 35. Shall we go and ask them again?”

All of a sudden the mood changes and a realistic price emerges, which I pay. He scurries back under the rock with his other cockroaches as soon as money changes hands. New mirror: check.

I continue on to the street where every vendor sells car stereos and alarms. I am looking for a place a friend recommended, and I find it. I go in and ask them if they can replace the remote, but they can’t. It’s one of them fancy American ones which can’t be adjusted or matched, unless you send off for one with the same serial number or somesuch. Maybe if I find the shop that originally installed this one, but it’s old, and fat chance they are still selling the same ones. After some haggling and bidding wars with the neighboring shop, they agree to replace the whole alarm for 30k (USD$60) so I agree. And I get a better alarm system to boot. Fixed alarm: check.

After that I continued on to the street where tires are fixed. Total chaos. The road becomes more of a parking lot as folks pull in and out and service is done in the street. Touts ask you what you need and guide you into places which provide your specific service. It’s like a giant crazy pit-stop on a raceway, with crappy cars. In my case there was a screw in the tire and a bad valve stem. $20 and 20 minutes later it was all as good as new. Fixed tire: check.

Did I mention that I got all of this done within a couple of hours? Never would this happen in previous places which shall go unnamed.

This is a street, not a parking lot.

This is a street, not a parking lot.

The other day a lady shot out from the left side of an intersection, right in front of us. By the time we saw her coming it was already too late and we ran right into her. Fortunately nobody was injured. Her car was trashed but our truck, while the steering and front frame is bent, suffered little more than cosmetic damage. We drove home.

We did the standard insurance thing, two inspectors come out to survey the damage, information is exchanged, and then you wait to hear from your insurance company. Meanwhile you research the local laws and educate yourself on right-of-way and other sundry items.

…such as the following, which states clearly that when in an unmarked intersection, the right-of-way preference goes to the vehicle on the right, and/or the street with through-way preference.

I was both on the through-way street, *and* the vehicle on the right. So, clearly, I thought, I had the right-of-way and the other lady’s insurance will pay for the damage. Having learned the laws I felt confident when I went in to get the results from my insurance agent.

WRONG!

My insurance company is leaving me to hang. “This all depends on where you are from,” my insurance agent explains to me. Translation: because you are a gringo, you are instantly guilty. Nice. Forget the law, forget that it is much more expensive for them to pay to replace the entire front end of the car WHICH CAUSED THE ACCIDENT than it is to say, “this is the law, your client is clearly guilty, and you should pay for the damage to my client.” Forget that they will lose a customer. Forget that I am a legal resident, forget that I have a local drivers license and a locally registered vehicle and I know what I am doing and know the laws. Nah, that’s all unimportant.

The corporate office’s official excuse: Because the street I was on changes names on the other side of the intersection, I am therefore culpable. Not a note about the fact that it is the secondary throughway through town on which all the bus routes run to avoid traffic on the main road. Nor that there are no street signs to signify the change-of-name. Because the locals are too lazy to post them and also because if they did, someone would steal them (as in here and here). So I shall hang because of mismanaged data on a map.

Fortunately the agent is on my side despite the ruling from the corporate office, so he has arranged tomorrow afternoon to help me get this straightened out. He has written in to appeal the decision in corporate, and he is going with me to Crash Lady’s insurance office to see what we can wrangle out of them. We shall see what happens. I am not hopeful. If they fail to please me I shall put their name up here with a notice to boycott.

Added Aug 25, 2012:
The company in question is RSA. They are reputed to be a quality insurance company (we have multiple policies for vehicle and home coverage). However at this point, I will not renew my policy with them, and instead I shall transfer it to a different company upon its expiration.

Welcome home! I can’t wait to get the F back out of here and get back to Chile where laws are at least more respected than the Kangaroo Subjective Interpretation you get here in Uruguay backwardsland.

The Mitsubishi Wanker Jr.

Posted: March 13, 2012 in Humor, Stupidity, Travel
Tags: , ,

What an unfortunate name. It probably sounds like something cool to the Japanese, but down here in SouthAm, it means Wanker, as in, one who spanks their monkey. What’s worse, it’s Wanker Junior.

Not to be confused with the full-size Wanker model, which is simply called the Wanker.

The Mitsubishi Wanker Jr