Tag Archives: #AtoZ

B is for Big Business, Big Bucks

Big bucks

Recently, I posted about the imposition on consumers of ridiculous surcharges and administration fees (see here), my all-time pet-hate being the administration fee I pay to print my own concert tickets. 
 
After that post, I noticed a growing trend for companies to charge a credit card surcharge. Now, I do realise banks charge businesses a fee to accept payments by credit card, but I don’t believe this fee should be passed on to the consumer. 

Why not? Because the business that chooses to accept credit card payments gets custom from consumers they otherwise might not get if the consumer didn’t have access to credit. Both consumer and business get benefits to using credit cards and both pay for it (the consumer via annual fees and monthly interest charges). That’s fair. It’s not fair if all the costs of that transaction get shifted to one party, even though both parties benefit from the arrangement – especially if the party bearing all the costs is the smaller party i.e. powerless consumer. 

I know small businesses sometimes charge a credit card to off-set the cost of using credit cards, and I can live with that, because small businesses are usually small margin businesses. But I draw the line at big business charging a surcharge and here are my two favourites:
  • Telstra – This is Australia’s telecommunications giant. It provides home phones, internet, mobile phones and pay TV. It’s the most expensive provider of these services, although arguably a better service than other providers, though that’s not saying much – and I’m not saying it (see here for a snippet of my recent Telstra woes). And when I went to pay my bill the other day, I noticed there is a credit charge surcharge. Excuse me? Telstra can certainly afford the surcharge, so why am I paying it?

  • Virgin Australia – One of Australia’s three major airline players. For 2 return tickets to Brisbane, I paid $16 in credit card surcharges. Not only can a major airline afford to pay the costs of credit cards, but I’m sure this far exceeds the actual cost to Virgin. Pure profiteering!
My chiropractor doesn’t charge a credit card surcharge. It’s a small, three principal practice, but apparently they can afford to cover the cost to them of allowing me to use a credit card, but Telstra cannot…

It must be all the money Telstra wastes on excessive numbers of incompetent staff, who fill their hours making life hard for consumers, that does it!

This is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge Series. If you missed the previous posts, you can find them here – A.

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or subscribe to my newsletter.
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The Alarming Appearance of an Absent Friend – Fiction


I have never posted fiction on my blog before, partly because I prefer to seek paid markets for my work, and more probably in large part due to my obsessive perfectionism that prevents me from ever finishing anything (discussed here). 

As part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, however, I have decided I will post two short stories, written specifically for the challenge, to be broken in to 2 – 4 posts to keep them short. The demanding timeline of the Challenge has forced me to leave off my perfectionism for once, so these stories are effectively in first draft format, with perhaps the benefit of one or two quick edits by myself only. 
 
To kick off the event, today I’ll be sharing the first quarter of the first story. The remainder of this piece of fiction will be shared on this blog on April 5, 8 and 11, so keep a sharp eye out if you want to know what happens next!
~

A siren screeched in the bowels of the prison. Colonel Drada furrowed his aching forehead against the sound. The prison guard escorting him looked to the steel door, a few yards ahead, and back towards the stairs spiralling down into the dungeon depths. 

‘You can find your way out, sir? I really should…’ The guard glanced towards the stairs again and shuffled his feet.

Drada flicked thick-knuckled fingers. ‘Go, man. The door’s right there and I’ve been this way dozens of times. I’m sure I’ll be fine.’

The guard snapped off a hasty salute and disappeared into the dank recesses of the dungeon. The flames of the sparse torches flickered in the breeze of his passing.

The siren screeched unabated in the distance. Drada combed fingers through greying black hair and stepped towards the door.

‘Psst!’ A hand beckoned from a door to his left, cracked barely wide enough to reveal a bloodshot blue eye. The crack widened, exposing a hooked nose and creased face.  

Drada hesitated. One finger flicked the gold braid on the opposite sleeve. Noticing, he forced both hands to his sides, jerking the jacket of his uniform straight and squaring his shoulders militantly. ‘Gan? Sergeant Gan?’

‘Shhh! Don’t be telling everyone I’m here.’

‘I haven’t seen you in months.’

‘We’re not allowed to see anyone.’ The eye rolled wildly in each direction.

Drada glanced up and down the hall; there was no one to see.  ‘Not allowed?’ Drawn on by fascination, he drifted closer to the door and its eye. ‘By whom? What’s the siren?’

Gan swung the door open wider. He wore chain mail over the prison guard uniform, but no weapon hung from his belt. ‘Keep your voice down. It’s the escaped prisoner alert.’ The sergeant waved his hands as Drada reached for his sword. ‘There’s no escaped prisoner. I set it off to get you alone.’  He pulled Drada through the door, ignoring the colonel’s raised eyebrows. Closing the door, he leaned against the wood, barrel chest rising and falling rapidly. In another man, Drada would have said it was panic, but Gan didn’t panic. Drada looked closer. Gan’s skin was grey with exhaustion, his hair lank and tangled; more white now than iron-grey. He had aged years in the months since Drada saw him last.

‘What’s going on?’ Drada’s voice firmed, the voice of a colonel expecting an answer and no longer that of a man talking to a long-absent friend. In the distance, the siren cut off mid-shriek. Drada shivered in the sudden, ominous silence. 

‘People are disappearing. Prisoners, mostly. Some guards. The ones who ask the wrong questions.’ Gan’s blue eyes flickered left, right, and left again. They were in a long, unlit service tunnel. Dust and debris littered the floor. It was dark, except for a solitary candle fixed in a puddle of melted wax on the floor. ‘Amlay. Sawsey. Randlin.’ He rattled off a list of prisoners, some Drada knew, some he didn’t.

‘Sawsey was transferred. I signed the papers myself.’

‘Of course, there has to be a legitimate reason for absent prisoners. But he didn’t get on the wagon; I was there. There’ll be an ‘accident’ en route to the new prison, a body provided, and he’ll be marked down as dead on arrival. He might be dead, but it weren’t en route.’

Drada’s mouth worked but no words came. Gan was a stalwart soldier, a man formerly of his own command, reliable to a fault, but this… If it was true, it must encompass a huge number of people, not only here, but on the transport wagons, in other cities… too many to tally. ‘This is a lot to take in.’

‘You have to believe me!’ Gan thrust his face into Drada’s, his breath hot on the colonel’s skin. ‘I can show you. I know where the prisoners go.  I know what they do with them.’ A shudder wracked his big frame, and a haunted look flashed through his eyes. ‘I wish to the gods I didn’t.’ 

~

You can find other A to Z participants here. Tomorrow is the letter ‘B’ post, and don’t miss the next installment in Drada’s story here.
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or subscribe to my newsletter.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

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Should I Do the A to Z Blogging Challenge?

A to Z Blogging Challenge


I’ve been toying with the idea of doing the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I keep swinging from yes to no and back again. I’d like to do it, it sounds fun. But on the other side I have these reservations:
  • Am I going to have time for this? My husband is constantly telling me I over-commit and make myself too busy. Full-time work, I’m a mother, a wife, writing a novel, working on multiple short stories, promoting myself on Twitter, managing two blogs (yes one wasn’t enough for me), I’m usually doing writing workshops (four right now) and my latest project is to establish a newsletter (subscriptions are open if you’re interested). Perhaps he has a point?
  • If I do have time for this, I need 26 topics. I usually only blog once a fortnight on this blog, so that’s a year’s worth of topics. I think about that fact and it’s an immediate disincentive to do this challenge. Those topics could get me through the next 12 months!
  • To cut that down, I could post some fiction instead. I don’t usually post fiction on my blog, preferring to seek alternative markets for it (OK I haven’t done much of that yet, I’m working on it, all right…) but I could do some flash fiction for the blog.
So tell me in the comments what you think? Should I:
  1. Participate in the A to Z Blogging Challenge with 26 topics; or
  2. Participate with 13 topics and 13 pieces of fiction (or some other combination of your choice); or
  3. Just write some fiction for you to read and not participate at all; or
  4. If you insist, you can suggest ‘Other’.
This is the list of possible topics I have so far.

A – Achy Breaky Heart and the Perception of Country Music
B – Big Business, Big Bucks
C – Country goes City – Drizabones in Sydney CBD
D – Daylight Robbery – How My Electricity Company Steals My Solar Power
E – Etiquette of Critiques
F – Fidelity and Its Continuing Relevance
G – Gun Laws: Should Australia Relax Regulation?
H – ???
I – Intellectual Property Rights for Books Explained
J – ???
K- ???
L – ???
M- Music – In Defence of Country & Western
N – Names – Did You Change Yours?
O – Oh My God, Are You Really Wearing That?
P – Public Transport and Cityrail’s Campaign Against Undesirable Commuters
Q – Discuss With A Q – Reasons to Use This Comment Widget
R – Raising the Bar for Self-Pubbed Authors
S – Switching from Blogger to WordPress: Should You?
T – Triberr Etiquette
U – Unwinnable War? Ciara Vs Telecommunications Giant
V – Vexatious Blog Habits
W – Writing Workshops – Are They Valuable?
X – ???
Y – ???
Z – ???

Anyone for a dose of fantasy fiction?

























Feel free to suggest a topic you’d like me to rant about or some inspiration for a short story in the comments. Let me know which of these topics you’d most like to see!

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or subscribe to my newsletter.
 
 Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this. 

Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us!