Help your local shop and pay with cash, not cards

YOU would think in this day and age of instant communication that the simple task of changing an address could be completed in the click of a mouse.

YOU would think in this day and age of instant communication that the simple task of changing an address could be completed in the click of a mouse.

Not so when the information has to be imparted in writing to a head office in another jurisdiction or when phone calls are routed via somewhere in the UK.

In spite of sending letters and completing the necessary forms some weeks after moving, an acquaintance ended up with her bank sending mail to two addresses. Ironically, a letter acknowledging notification of the change of address was sent to the old one!

In the end it took what should,in hindsight have happened in the first place, a visit to a small out-of-town branch for some good old-fashioned face-to-face personal interaction between two human beings in the same location to finally resolve the matter.

In spite of the morals of this tale (that when you want something done, do it in person, and that it is still good to talk), there could be a glimmer of hope that the global economic crisis is not as bad as it seems.

Debt crisis-torn countries like Greece, Italy and Spain may still have stashes of cash in their national bank vaults or invested overseas. If my friend’s frustrating tale is anything to go by, confidential correspondence may simply be going to the wrong address, or all-important phone calls could be stuck in a queue stretching for thousands of miles!

We are supposed to be moving towards a cashless society where cards will replace money, cheques will become obsolete and bank branches will gradually disappear as banking goes online.

Oh really? I wonder if the high street banks live in the real world, where old habits die hard and the poor, put-upon public would rather stuff their life savings in a mattress than hand it over to the same ‘investment specialists’ who nearly bankrupted the country, let alone their employers.

If it weren’t for the Jack Russells gradually turning the garden into a scale model of the Western Front circa the Second Battle of Ypres, I’d empty my accounts and bury the lot on the Boulivot Heights.

Is there anything more annoying than watching your pension pot shrink faster than Alice (or when you pop into the bank to pay in a cheque and the teller tries to sell you even more money-gobbling services), then it is being stuck in a check-out queue, in particular those restricted to small purchases, when a shopper flashes a card to pay for a trifling amount. Have Jersey shoppers come over all royal by not carrying cash any more?

And it doesn’t just apply to ladies who shop and the über-earners of the finance industry. Even big, butch builders decked out in muddy boots and paint-splattered overalls, stocking up for the morning break, get out a card to pay for a sandwich, cup of tea, a chocolate bar or two and a daily newspaper.

As a relieved shop owner explained recently when I handed over cash and received a welcome and unsolicited discount, every card transaction costs her 50p. So, fellow Rock dwellers, how’s about helping the local retail sector to reduce overheads and administration by paying for goods with real money? After all, we are continually being told to keep the local pound circulating.

VALUE for money is no doubt the reason why Transport and Technical Services want to ditch Connex in favour of some new boys on the bus block.

However, there are savings and there are savings, and when something is so obviously not broke and, moreover working very successfully, then leave it alone.

To all intents and purposes, Connex has done a damn good job in delivering a pretty good public transport system while also achieving what no one else has ever managed to do before: get more people using buses.

The company’s recent investment in double-deckers, so close to the end of its ten-year contract with the States, was obviously made in good faith that it would be here for at least another ten, so what has gone so wrong in such a short period of time?

Before any irrevocable decision is made, the public has a right to know who exactly made the decision not to invite Connex, as the company so confidentially expected, to participate in the final stage of the tender, and why they made it.

I don’t profess to be a bus user, as not even Connex has succeeded in getting buses on the Heights, but like many others I have grown quite fond of the company, and have come to appreciate the higher standard of driving than exhibited in the bad old days of the JMT, and the quality of the service on the rare occasions when I do take public transport.

If the quality of the service isn’t in question by the people who use it, in the interests of maintaining a decent public transport system to prize even more Islanders from behind the wheel of a car, we must question the decision to change operator before the Island lives to regret it.

Should things go belly up in the future (and, let’s face it, States departments have a reputation for screwing up at our expense, the Island could find itself in a situation where no bus operator worth its salt would want to touch us with a bargepole.