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I Hate Telstra Episode 2

Telstra's wireless hotspot service failed to provide me with any access in Brisbane. So I used their online inquiry page to say 'hey, I tried, it failed, please don't bill me'. Their customer service people responded instantly but uselessly to this email. They said sorry, that was nice. But they didn't do anything. No check to see if they had charged me: "If we have charged you then please call our wireless support people to have the charge reversed". This of course was what I had asked them to do. Teflon is brand name for non-stick pan coating, and Telstra service people. So I waited. Part 3 coming soon.


To Bernard McCrea who has been appointed as National Investment Director at Money Managers. So many more people will see Bernie as he gets out on the road to promote Money Managers. He will also be teamed up with Kevin Brailey again, who was at AIA in the past.

Also to Brad Clark who has been appointed to manage the Takapuna Business Association - and instantly managed to make it pop up in the news. Brad and I worked together at Sovereign marketing and he is an energetic and entrepreneurial marketer who is bound to make things happen.

Prudential Survey of Retired People

A recent Prudential survey found that one in three retirees had underestimated costs or had unexpected costs in retirement which affected their retirement income.

Point of comparison: companies manage complex projects all the time. It is usual to accept that during the initial feasibility stage managers can be a bit enthusiastic about what they are after. This means that forecasts tend to be slightly rosy. Project managers spend a lot of time through a number of process (rolling wave planning, contingency planning) to build in sufficient margin for the inevitable unforseen events, complications, and scope creep.

Retirement is a complex project. It happens a long time in the future and many aspects of it are difficult to forecast. How long will it be? Will I suffer a degenerative disease? Will I die quickly? Can I take a world trip first? It is a bittersweet subject. Little wonder that we don't plan it very well. With the best will in the world it would hard to do so.

Two observations: for risks which are unpredictable at the individual level, but very predictable within larger groups insurance offers an effective management tool. For this market that means trauma cover before you are retired, major medical, annuities, and home equity release.

A Thoroughly Good Weekend

I was kept up by kids much of Friday night, madness due to sleeplessnes on Saturday ensued. Which was then relieved by a test-drive of the new Peugeot 407. It really brought a smile to my face.

Then: sport - brilliant. Rugby, great, Aussie on tour in England, even better, in my humble opinion - because after all if we take an african team to Dunedin we really should smack them.

Activa and Health

What is the most interesting thing going on in medical right now? I've had a quick look over at www.activa.co.nz and enjoyed the journey. First thing is how nice it is to see the data about health related spending. Private sector spending is the vast majority - and in so many ways.

People care about their health and are prepared to invest in it. It has clearly become an expression of one's lifestyle to be fussy about what one eats and drinks, how one exercises, in what clothes, with whom, and even about what sorts of minerals and vitamins one takes.

Anyone with a serious interest in healthcare knows that vitamins are considered to be of marginal benefit for anyone with a generally balanced diet - yet they remain tremendously popular. Equally, those of us that have found that a supplement has made a difference in our lives (as I have found with  echinacea) do not fancy letting go of it in spite of the equivocal reports from the medical profession.

Sadly, though, I felt that activa was a great idea - but one I would not be able to make much use of myself because of the limited partners list. Surely there are many people like me who have relationships with an existing gym, doctor, specialist, pharmacy, etc... and will find it simply not worth the effort to change.

Ralph's Journey

This Herald piece reveals, shock horror, rivalry in the mortgage market. With ANZ fingering ASB as the reason for it struggling in the past half year. With reporting like this there will soon be nothing left to know about the mortgage market ;-)

But in other news, Ralph Norris has good reason to be pleased - not just because a small part of his new empire is doing well, but because Air New Zealand staff will miss him. At Air New Zealand he will long be remembered as someone who took the company successfully through a very difficult period.

However, shareholders have not been having such a happy time. For a long time the shares have frankly been overvalued - when they were at at over $2 last year I personally felt that this was a silly price, based on the chance that governments might allow Air New Zealand and Qantas to 'collaborate' to the point of merger. Today, this is where we are at (courtesy of sharechat):

"The stock touched an intraday low of $1.20c, before recovering to trade a cent higher at $1.22.

It has dipped below $1.20 just once before, on September 24, 2001 when the shares hit 88c (in adjusted terms, following a five-for-one share consolidation this time last year) as the airline teetered on the brink of bankruptcy.

At these levels, the Government is $80-$100 million out of pocket on its $1 billion investment in Air NZ, for which it paid an average of $1.30 per share. "

But the latest lows have more to do with oil price than boardrooms or governments. With higher surcharges the market simply reckons people will fly less. That looks like a sensible conclusion - for now.

Tax Cuts Anyone?

I find it amusing that only a couple of months ago there was simply no money for tax cuts, and now there is lots of squabbling about the size of tax cuts. So someone has clearly moved the debate. Still, now you can work it out for yourself, here are the links.

Enjoy. Is Winston reading this blog? I mean the tax relief on petrol thing... isn't it awful when someone you dislike holds the same position as you?

An excellent paper on tax cuts (as recommended by the NBR) is here.

Mortgage Hype

Back in the UK, the Norwich and Peterborough Building Society is introducing a home loan which will 'help get young people on the property ladder' with the help of their parents (i.e. guarantees, loans which are longer term and for a larger proportion of the property price). I recall similar loans appearing in the 18 months prior to the UK's last big property crash...