Monday, February 04, 2008

Cheques and balances gone amok

I swiped my Luas Smart Card(tm), heard the dingggg, and after a brief wait got onto the tram. A few stops later, I got off and tried to swipe the card to mark that I was done---bzzzt, the card reader was out of order. Crap! I feared I'd be billed for the ride all the way to Tallaght and pay the full return fare of 4 Euros.

I went over to the other side, expecting that one to work. Bzzzt. Memories came flooding in of the 45 Euros I paid as the Standard Fare (hah!) when I spaced out and forgot to use my damn card---what if it wasn't just 4 Euros? (Of course when I got stuck having not paid for my ride, they weren't yet asking for any form of identification. I could have made up any name I wanted. Tsk, tsk.)

Was it worth the hassle to actually call Veolia, the sex-organ-sounding owner of the Luas, and ask? You bet.

A nice lady said I'd only be responsible for the cost of going to the next region---about 65 cents. Nothing to worry about, really. Well, just to see if they can credit your account automatically, I asked how I could be refunded the balance of 65 cents. The lady thought I was nuts. No way to do that automatically, sir. Really? That's okay, I'm not in a rush.

A week later, I received a cheque (costing 55 cents in postage) signed by two Luas employees with signature authority.

The time and effort spent making this happen? About 15 minutes.

The cost of seeing a silly bureaucratic system bending over backwards to simply fulfill its own silly rules?



  1. That is so funny!!! But on the flip side if you have that much time to waste, you should post more :-P

    Or join my commune where you can pursue "the Man" inbetween home schooling and chopping of fire wood!

  2. LMAO that is fucking excellent great story, hurrah for the celtic tiger.

  3. Although your use of the s is kinda illegal according to our European friends, tututut

  4. I've just survived a work project sent by the devil himself, a task which resisted all attempts to reach closure. This post was part of my cleansing process. Paying actual attention to my family and finally replacing the blown light fixture above my head here in my home office are my other bits of luxury. :)

  5. You sure know how to live Mister! But admit it you'd love to "shove it to the man"!

  6. Seanachie's comment about the plural of euro (which is euros) is incorrect.

    Directive (EC) No. 1103/97 of 1997-06-17 from the European Council states: Whereas ... the European Council furthermore considered that the name of the single currency must be the same in all the official languages of the European Union, taking into account the existence of different alphabets.... This Regulation shall be binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all Member States. The intent of this Directive is, obviously, not to change the natural grammatical formation of plurals in any European language. The intent of the Directive is twofold: (1) to prevent an EMU country from calling the currency something else (like the ducat or the pound or the mark or the dollar, and (2) to ensure that the banknotes were not cluttered up with a string of plurals and other forms (EURO EUROA EORĂ“NNA EUROT EUROS EIROI EURO'S EURI EVRI etc.). The only reasons the s-less plurals are found in the English of Ireland is that (1) the Commission misunderstood its own Directive and started using the invariant plurals in legislation (the silly rule that legislation continues to use these false plurals is to avoid problems in translation; a poor excuse, but there you are) and (2) the Irish Minister for Finance misunderstood the intent of the Directive and started speaking ungrammatically; the Irish Euro Changeover Board and the broadcast media picked it up, like parrots, and have broadcast it because they mistakenly believe that good little Europeans are supposed to form their plurals according to a European Council Directive. This is not the case; our co-pluralizers in Spain, France, and Portugal wisely rejected the abandonment of the s-less plural and they all happily say euros, euros, euros just like we would, had the Minister for Finance not cocked up. Make no mistake: the s-less plurals are supposed to be used only in legislation now; the European Commission itself recommends the natural plurals in all other contexts. The Irish media are doing the wrong thing. Want more proof? Klaus Regling, Director General for Economic and Financial Affairs of the European Commission said to me in a letter dated 2002-04-12: EU legislation is drafted and published by the Council in all linguistic versions. You rightly state in your letter that in EU legislation, the plurals of both "euro" and "cent" are written without an "s" in English, but that the Secretariat General of the Commission has issued a guideline recommending its translators to use the plural with "s" for both terms in documents other than legal texts. More? Pat Cox, President of the European Parliament, said to me in a letter dated 2002-05-30: I thank you for your letter of 22 March 2002 concerning the plural form of the Euro. I agree with you that the natural plural of euro and cent in English would be euros and cents and that the legislative plurals without the "s" sound unusual to English speakers. Your analysis of the current position is well-put and makes clear that no one is (or, indeed, could be) obliged to use a particular form in other contexts. Your campaign therefore provides a timely reminder that the natural plural forms are in no sense illegal and may be freely used for all other purposes.

    The European Commission Directorate-General for Translation's English Style Guide (A handbook for authors and translators in the European Commission) states: "Like ‘pound’, ‘dollar’ or any other currency name in English, the word ‘euro’ is written in lower case with no initial capital and, where appropriate, takes the plural ‘s’ (as does ‘cent’): This book costs ten euros and fifty cents."

  7. jesh I did say kinda illegal, but by jesus you have done your research on this my dear fellow, I imgine though that the singular will remain with us now we have gotten so used to it.

  8. This is exactly the sort of thing I used to love on That's Life *sigh*

  9. Euro-tastic.

    Atreus - I got a 2 euro/s/-/s/-/s/-
    cheque in the post from Aer Rianta years ago because of a magnum vending machine that didn't work.

  10. And the blog award for longest ever comment goes to........ Yay Mr Everson!!