Hotels, Tribulations & Comfort

Sometimes you have bad days.
Sometimes you have good days.
Sometimes you have yoyo days.

Today was a bit of a yoyo day.

Yesterday I found out that the credit card payment had not been applied yet. Then today that the bank would not “clear” my check in less than 9 days since “I was new” here, so could not deposit from my California account into the Florida one where my paycheck will show up on Friday. (Neither bank has branches on the ‘other’ coast). Starting to wonder how much head room was left, I called the credit card folks who said “lots” thanks to my last payment that just cleared. Great. Except the amount was not what I’d handed over in a check… So where did that come from, I ponder? He phones home…

Turns out the spouse had “made a payment” when the bill arrived and I was on the road.

OK, lots of head room for room and board. (My first paycheck comes this Friday at the end of week two… and I’ve money in the California account I could use to write a check, IFF anyone would clear a check. Even the “electronic check” I “wrote” on Sunday for the credit card hasn’t “cleared” yet… (I suspect someone is working the float…) Oh Well. For now, it’s credit card time. On Friday, I zero it. From “downer” to “oh boy” in a couple of hours. (Yes, I could pay $100+ / year to American Express for one of their cards to have check cashing on the road. I’d not needed it for a year, so let it lapse.)

Then I’d checked out of Motel 6 this morning. All day my “stuff” bakes in the car in the tropical weather. Driving the Hotel Row on 192, it was once again Adventures In Hotel Land as strange monsters try to consume your wallet…

A workmate suggested the Seralago. Said that as a long term contractor he had stayed there last year and “got a deal” after talking to the manager {a while}. OK. I make it as far as the line in the lobby. A very small sign ( standard letter paper? Laser printer white / black) says, roughly: “Dear guests, as of {some date}, we are adding a resort fee of $6 which with {tax, license, shipping, handling, inflation, dander fee} comes to about $7 a day.” Sorry, that’s just a flavor of “Bait & Switch” and I don’t do bait and switch. Out the door…

Never even bothered to ask the price, since clearly any price stated is dubious until checkout… when all the “fees” get added.

For those who don’t know, given the “success” of fees in the airlines, hotels are getting in on the act with the Resort Fee. This can range all over the place, even well into double digits a day at high end places. It’s just a scam. You often only find out you’ve been racking up “resort fees” at checkout.

Down the road…

At the ?Orlando Palms? hotel, a nice sign says “Weekly $149” or some such with daily rate of $29 or so (and in mice type ‘mon -friday’ I think). Turns out that they are “all sold out of “long duration rooms” at the weekly rate; but, if I’m willing, they can rent me a room for $255? or something close for a week. Which turns out to be the daily rate of $29 + $55 / day for Saturday and Sunday. “Weekends higher”, she says… (No link since “Orlando Palms Hotel” pulls up dozens… but this is the one with a deep burgundy curb EVERYWHERE even in check-in parking… not clear on the meaning of “red curb”…) As I’m not a player in the Bait & Switch game, I’m out the door…

I decide to have dinner. Panda Express. Wonderful place. Cafeteria line service of decent Chinese food and fair prices. $7 to $10 for more than enough to fill up a 200+ lb or 100 kilo+ guy. http://www.pandaexpress.com/ Near Mile Marker 12 on Hwy 192 toward Kissimmee. I have the new “Samurai Surf & Turf” (a very nice blend of steak and shrimp with vegetables) and an old favorite chicken dish. Yum.

Now, feeling less hungry and with iced tea stiffening my resolve, back to The Hunt For A Bed…

I’m torn. Down the road one way are The Cheap Seats. As low as “Twenty something” a night. Back the other, a hotel I’ve liked before… I go to the Travelodge… Sign out front flashing “$42.95 / sgl” then “-$10 exp”. Now I’m wondering why they have a minus sign in front of $10 and what are they giving a $10 discount on? (Figuring some junk tickets or?… Exposition? Explanations? Explosions?) I as the clerk: “How much for a room” “How many in your party?” “Just me.” “$49.95“…

Now you might have noticed that the price quoted is $7 more than the sign… Have I mentioned lately that I don’t like Bait & Switch?…

“That’s not what the sign out front says.” “Oh, OK, I can do that…

A short while later, after handing over my drivers license, credit card, phone number, first born… I’m given a key. I then ask “what’s that $10 exp?”. Turns out that “exp” means “Extra Person” in hotel speak… The “minus sign” was really a dash, and nothing is being discounted. Off I go to “my” room. There’s a “do not disturb” on the knob. Figuring it is someone playing a prank with a sign on an empty room, I open the door with “my” key. Of the 4 sleepy people on the two beds, two look blearing at me… “Sorry, looks like they gave me the wrong key.”… Back at the front desk, the clerk is a might excited… seems his computer assures him nobody is in that room.

Long story a bit longer, I end up in a “suite”, not the cheap ass $43 room. (Perhaps the $50 room I was being baited into?…) but at the $43 rate. “I’m good with that” ;-) Now I have small fridge, microwave, credenza, Big TV with financial channels on cable, AND: Free fast wifi ;-) No longer sitting on the Starbucks patio… Two very large beds (king maybe? And a writing desk. Along with a small couch in the “living room” that’s really just a wide spot before you get to the beds.

I’m happy.

Sure, it’s $12 / day more than Motel 6; but worth it. (Don’t know if it would be worth it at $50 / day… we’ll see what happens when I try to ‘renew’ for another week ;-) I figure he tossed me into a suite either since he was out of cheap seats OR as consolation prize for walking in on a sleeping family… Whatever. I’m here now.

So now I’m “set” until Saturday. Then it will be once more into the Hotel Hunting Fray. Eventually I’ll settle on a place that I like at a reasonable price and “settle in” for the long haul. I saw some “suites” for under $190 / week on the other side of things, away from tourist attractions “a ways”. $190 is significantly less than $350 ( 7 days at $50 each – my guess at what this suite is supposed to run…); enough less for me to spend time to “check it out”.

Until then, I’m happy with my decision for this week. Even if it did come at the cost of a bit of embarrassment… though mostly for the folks in bed. I sure hope the clerk doesn’t hand out my room key to some strange guy while I’m sleeping… but I guess getting a suite for $43 is worth that risk. Besides, folks expecting a suite are likely upscale enough not to wake me up… or bother my stuff… I hope…

(I’ll add a link to their site AFTER I’m no longer here…)

With that, back to our regularly scheduled program. I can now catch up dumping the SPAM queue, reading my email, writing those lower priority article topics I has rattling around, organizing receipts, find a car tune up / repair place, and maybe even sort through some of the bag of papers I have, now that I’ve got a writing desk for a week! Doing all those things that Road Warriors of all sorts do when the folks at home picture them lounging by the pool. But first, I’m going to check out what’s on these folks cable. Last time I was here it was a much better selection than at Motel 6… and included CNBC so I can catch up on what’s happening in the financial world while I’ve been busy making money.

Do keep in mind, though, when traveling, that it pays to “shop around”. The first hotel I tried (prior to Motel 6) was a “Comfort Inn” just a bit closer to the gate. They wanted $99 for one night for one person. Yes, with taxes, over $100 a night. For a room no better than what I’m in now. Ask about resort fees. Ask about taxes. Ask what all else gets added to the bill. And don’t be afraid to walk out on Bait & Switch or other games. Or at least, to challenge them on it.

In the end, it can work out in your favor.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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43 Responses to Hotels, Tribulations & Comfort

  1. PhilJourdan says:

    I noticed the “float” as well. I have 2 banks (due to my side business). One is a credit union. They say “2 days” to make the payment, but I have yet to see it take more than a day, and90% of the time it is the same day.

    The other is a regular bank (not a top 10, but definitely top 50). They say 2, and I have never seen it faster. And if you “add” a new payee, it takes a minimum of 5 days. Yea right! Snail mail is faster.

    Most of my money is in the Credit Union.

  2. Power Grab says:

    I like to use B&B’s. All the ones I’ve used recently have free WIFI, too. Not to mention a homemade breakfast in the morning. Yum!

  3. BobN says:

    The float is a great game for the banks. I have even deposited cash to wire and the bank gives me some 3 day delay BS. Certified check in 1 state and 10 days to get it in another.
    We used to get our house payment and my wife would mail it in the next day, always a late charge. She then would take the bill, drive to the bank and pay it getting a receipt. The first few times she did that we got a late charge notice. Go to the bank and show them the receipt and they back it out, must have been a computer error. Next month, same routine. They do everything possible to get those late fees.

  4. Ralph B says:

    If it will be a couple more weeks you may way to check out VRBO.

  5. Petrossa says:

    I have standard 3 days float when i transfer from one of my accounts to another. Their dismal excuse is that it’s across the border but it’s in Europe which is a defacto federation. Anyhow i fail to see how it could possibly take 3 days to transfer monies electronically. Everybody knows they are being royally copulated, but there is nothing you can do about it. Europe is working on cutting out cash all together. The 500 bills are already being taken in by the banks. The plan is to only leave tens and 20ties, the rest only digitally. Handy for the NSA btw.

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    @Petrossa:

    We are down to $100 as the largest (so about €75 or so?) and even that is inflating toward a $20 of current money (already a $100 is only worth about what $10 was when I was a kid…)

    @Ralph B:

    What’s a VRBO?

    @PowerGrab:

    Know any B&B in Orlando?

    @PhilJourdan & BobN:

    Had an interesting one before the trip started. Paid the credit card to zero. Check “available” and find it is not full limit. Call card company: “Waiting for check to clear”. Hang one, says I. Tap tap tappty tap…. My online banking shows that check has already cleared… “Oh, well, sure, we can credit your account…”

  7. Richard Ilfeld says:

    Much of the Florida economy depends on the insensitivity and sometime inattention of tourists to fees, taxes, and even prices. Many people set aside a lump sum for vacation, and our local businesses have become adept at extracting the last nickel. There are numerous seasonal rentals available outside the theme park zone, if you care to enjoy a few minutes in your Mercedes twice a day. I have advised folks over the years that the best values can often be found advertised in Canadian Media — with many folks having good luck with the Toronto Globe and Mail want ads as that part of Canada is a source of many of our part-time residents.

  8. Ralph B says:

    VRBO=Vacation Rentals By Owner if you do a search it pops up and you can then drill down to the area you want. http://www.vrbo.com/vacation-rentals/usa/florida/central-disney-orlando/kissimmee?from-date=2013-06-16&to-date=2013-06-30&datesfirm=
    You can look further out and may catch a deal…I did see some for $40/night but not sure where your optimal area or tolerable commute is. They are fully furnished complete with silverware and plates etc. I rented a 3 BR place through them and was satisfied. You can negotiate with the owner and may get a better deal than advertised.

  9. CompuGator says:

    Florida has a state-wide tax on visitor-serving lodging (e.g.: motel-room rent) that’s known colloquially as the “tourist tax”. By state law, it’s used exclusively to “promote tourism”. The slogan is widely interpreted as justifying constructing nearly anything that lures visitors into overnight lodging, which is why the state’s hotel-&-motel owners trade association didn’t use their formidable political clout to oppose it. But what that tax typically boils down to is providing a state fund for building sports arenas for the owners of privately owned commercial sports teams (e.g.: Orlando Magic of the NBA), and building & expanding (& expanding) convention centers (e.g.: Orlando’s). Never mind how many visitors would really stay in a motel room just to see an NBA game live, or to compete in or watch amateur sports events in metro Orlando.

    By the law that created the tax, it cannot be used to mitigate the negative impacts of tourism, most notoriously, career criminals targeting tourists but also victimizing local residents, and tourist traffic on Central Florida’s roadways (the latter requiring increased maintenance and greater capacity than would be needed to serve the permanent local population).

    So it was that when Orlando and Orange Co. treated themselves to their heapingest helping of the state “tourist tax” funds ever, it was to surrender to billionaire-sports-owner blackmail (i.e.: the De Voses of Amway), to replace the only 20-year-old Orlando Arena with a $1/2 billion palatial Center for the De Vos-owned Orlando Magic. Instead of serving as a mainstream-media watchdog (e.g.: as a minimum, prominently reporting the financial liabilities & risk to which the city & county–thus resident taxpayers–exposed themselves, and being vigilant about potential replication of the deficiencies & errors in the existing building, whether from cluelessness or corruption), the surviving local daily paper instead acted mostly as a cheerleader for the project.

    In the meantime, construction will soon start on a “done-deal” that will have a substantial impact on the lives of far more residents than ever attend an NBA game: new toll-only lanes on the only local freeway: Interstate 4 (I-4). It’s been constructed and expanded in multiple stages since the late 1950s, using federal & other tax funds as available, specifically to be toll-free, but never mind that now. Keep in mind that unlike California and almost all other states, Florida has no state income tax to provide funds for such construction. The upcoming tolls are rationalized as simply creating a new premium level of “service”, and touted as generating funds to support new roads for “future growth” that otherwise couldn’t be constructed. Sometimes it’s seasoned with prim greenie praise for mass transportation. I’m sure local porkbarrel-fed construction companies are looking forward to bigger helpings at the publicly funded troughs to accomodate the extra complexity of separating toll traffic from toll-free traffic at entrance & exit ramps.

    I’m curious about how much “tourist tax” (probably itemized under a more formal & respectable name) the state helped itself to as the result of Chiefio’s lodging here. Also, whether it’s a fixed amount, a flat rate, or an escalating percentage of the cost of the room.

  10. philjourdan says:

    @E.M.Smith – I got a better one. I took a Cashiers check (supposed to be the same as cash) to a bank to pay off a car loan, so I could get the title and transfer the car (license plates expiring). The doofus told me they required 3 days to have the check clear! I went around and around with the idiots until I finally won.

  11. j ferguson says:

    philjourdan, was that in Florida? Our experience is that in Florida, an out of state Cashiers check can bounce anytime up to ten days. This includes bank drafts and other paper documents thought by most of us to be as good as cash. This is where the 9 days our hero ran into in making good his out of state check came from.

    How a cashiers check could bounce is a little hard to understand, but we had a small business that did half million dollar deals in Miami in the late 80s and 90s and I ran into this problem on a deal where our bank wasn’t going to let us spend any of a fresh cashier check deposit until the 10 days was up. It isn’t float although the effect is the same. I suspect it may be a left over from the cheap land boom days, a kind of mechanism for someone with cold feet to void a check a day or two after the transaction.

    It might be good to ask your own bank about their cashier’s checks. What if you wanted to stop payment.

    Florida is full of crooks. About one in ten applicants for an advertised position will have a criminal conviction in his background. If you are interviewing and not getting this percent, you aren’t asking the right questions or accounting for past employment sequence with sufficient care.

    I think I can say with a fair amount of direct experience, at least in South Florida, that if you think a business is honest in every way, you don’t understand what they are doing. without a whole lot of provocation, I could be enticed into relating two of the best schemes I encountered while we were working down there.

  12. Jason Calley says:

    @ j ferguson “without a whole lot of provocation, I could be enticed into relating two of the best schemes I encountered”

    I am curious. Consider yourself provoked!

  13. philjourdan says:

    I understand out of state checks (that is a popular scam). However this was in the same city. And no, not Florida, Actually in a Fed reserve city.

  14. Power Grab says:

    Here’s a starting list of B&Bs:

    http://www.bedandbreakfast.com/orlando-florida.html

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    @Power Grab:

    Thanks, I’ll give it a look.

    @J. Ferguson:

    Inquiring minds want to hear the story… poke poke; provoke! ;-)

    Besides, it looks like you have already explained why the “background check” I had was about as complete as the one to do security work at the Federal Reserve Bank…

    @ComputGator:

    Yeah, so I’m looking also for rooms NOT in Orange county… but I suspect it may not be all that much better in the adjoining counties. There is also a ‘price break’ for some hotels on “monthly” prices simply because that exits the tax…

    Some companies are making a bundle selling States on the idea they will rake in the dough by charging to use the highways. Converting freeways to money machines. I religiously avoid them whenever possible. In California they have started converting freeway lanes to “toll only” (you buy a transponder so it isn’t ‘on / off ramp’ based. Just “in the lane and transponder or get a ticket in the mail”.) Whole lot of problems with forcing folks to have transponder equipped cars… think satellites can read them and finger where every one of those cars is located?…

    @Ralph B:

    Thanks! Now I know ;-)

    @Richard Ilfeld:

    I’m fond of 192 and south. Kissimmee and such. (Osceola Parkway as a northern bound, more or less) I typically start in “any hotel I know”, then the second or third week work out to “as good by cheaper”, and at the “month or two mark” start looking for “monthly rate, comfortable and low cost” longer duration things. Once the contract is clearly being extended.

    I know a store near here that sells British and Canadian newspapers ;-)

  16. jim2 says:

    Hey EM – you might contact a realtor and see if there are any cabins, houses, yurts, whatever, for rent or lease.

  17. Gail Combs says:

    I really hate toll roads too.

    NC just put in their first toll road from Apex to ~ RDU airport area. I made the mistake of taking it with a livestock trailer. The SOBs don’t TELL you what the cost is you just get the bill in the mail. Unfortunately the trailer had a flat (no spare) and by the time the flat was fixed and I was off that darn road it was over $30 in tolls for less than forty miles round trip. Two axle livestock trailers are charged the same as an 18 wheeler….

  18. Sera says:

    A furnished apartment costs about the same as ‘extended stays’, and you don’t have to worry about people in your room every day. Of course, you have to do your own housework. If you plan on staying more than three months, speak to a local realtor (or two) and just keep looking for a deal. You WILL find many in that area. My sis has a three bed in Poinciana- probably too much for you, and too far away, but there are good deals out there.

    Good luck!

  19. j ferguson says:

    E.M.
    When you get down to more permanent digs, think of not owning – ever again. We’re selling the boat after ten years of living aboard running up and down the east coast. This means land, and in this case Del Ray Beach. The plan is to rent a small apartment and a storage garage/workshop. We think the era of making money on real-estate may be in remission and would like to avoid the hassle. I’m not sure about the economics, but we did well buying and selling homes from 1969 up to the last one, a condominium on South Beach which we sold in 2003 when we moved on the boat. That place is again for sale with higher asking price than we got, but if you add in the fees, taxes, assessments, and other costs we’ve done better with our investments including factoring in the equivalent life support costs of living on the boat.

    Our intention is never to own again. Someone who reads this may be able to show we’re nuts and if so I’d like to hear why.

    My scam stories are true. One was never detected by the authorities and so I’ll need to disguise the details a bit. The other was whistle-blown and 26 nice folks were indicted, convicted and two got serious jail terms.

    MIA (Miami International) has a fuel farm for jet-fuel. It has tanks and receives its fuel via a pipe-line from Port Everglades where the fuel is off-loaded from tankers. Jet fuel expands and contracts with temperature (like everything else). The flow into the tank farm was metered with an older device which was not temperature corrected. There was a thermometer which was read and readings recorded while transfers were in progress. The energy in fuel is a function of weight not volume. The API standard is to correct to 68F (IIRC). It was discovered that with the monthly flow down this pipe, an error in reading the temperature of 1 1/2 degrees could mean 10,000 gallons could “disappear.” I don’t know how they doctored the books with the tanker people, but somehow they had this covered. They did the same thing when the fuel was pumped into airplanes. The load into the airplanes would have obviously been a bit light per plane for what they were charged. But in the volumes carried by planes, the difference might not have been apparent.

    You might ask, how they got the 10,000 gallons off-site and where did it end up. Easy. Large fuel tanks collect water and sludge which can no longer be pumped into the nearest ditch thanks to Nixon and the EPA. Large tank trucks arrived twice a month to remove water and sludge from tanks and incidentally portions of the “excess” fuel. It was hauled to an “environmental” firm in Ft Lauderdale where it was cleaned up and sold for marine diesel.

    When this activity was finally revealed – revealed not discovered since it had been going on for years, paying for children’s higher education, Sea Rays for use in Biscayne Bay etc. – the marvel was how something with so many people involved could continue for so many years, possibly decades. That’s a good question. It could have been because the incumbent scam manager at the time the whistle sounded was a convicted murderer and ex-cop. He was an employee of the contractor managing the fuel farm for Dade County and of course had been through all of the airport’s security clearances as they were applied in the late ’90s.

    Or it could have been because it was just another scam.

    So far as I know there was no involvement by any off-site organization – only a local activity.

    I’m in England right now and the trickier to tell scam will have to await my return to US.

  20. Ralph B says:

    Ferg,
    To each his own when it comes to buying vs renting. I bought, not for an investment because historically real estate is not a great money maker, but because if I want a dog I can have one, if I don’t like the plants I can change them, if my kids write on the walls or want to paint their room black (no they dont…just an example) I can let them. I hope to keep this house till I expire…no guarantee of course but that is the plan.
    Some folks like renting some don’t. Having different people around is what makes the world an interesting place.

  21. j ferguson says:

    Ralph,
    moving out of 220 square feet – although with 360 degree glazing gives us a pretty broad range of what could work. one of the reasons the 36 foot trawler worked was extensive built-ins and mods and a cockpit which could handle the requirements of a small shop – hence requirement for a separate shop.

  22. Ralph B says:

    Ferg,

    My hat’s off to you for making that work. Me, I need lots of horizontal space to clutter (I am a former submariner so I know how to live in tight places, just too lazy). My desk is a mess…my garage, the same. My spouse is a neat person at times accusing me of marrying her cause I need a maid.

  23. R. de Haan says:

    Don’t know the Florida situation but many hotels/motels provide great prices if you make your booking via the Internet.

    I had a hilarious situation when I had a last minute meeting in Lisbon and booked a flight without booking the hotel that offered a 40% rebate if you booked by the internet. So I arrived at the lobby and asked for a room. Of course the receptionist, a nice looking lady, offered me the highest price and when I asked for the 40% rebate, she told me she was very sorry but there was a conference gong on which in Hotel jargon means “no room for price negotiation”. However, had I booked via the internet…. So I asked the lady if she had a lap top at hand. No, she replied, but I ask will ask my colleague. One minute later I had a laptop and made the booking by the internet at the 40% rebate, payed by credit card and received the automatic confirmation. I handed the laptop back to her with the confirmation still on the screen and asked for the key of the room. She stood there with open mouth unable to speak a single word. She gave me the key, produced a forced grin and when I told her, don’t worry I won’t tell anyone, as I just demonstrated the concept of a “do it yourself check in”, she just smiled.

  24. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.: For sure your last name is Smith and not Rockefeller or Rothschild, though that makes you an immortal being it is a bit troublesome. :-)

  25. Petrossa says:

    @adolfogiurfa completely OT: cat’s claw works miracles. After 2 weeks 60% less inflammation pain. Expensive though. Tnx for the tip!

  26. Dennis Dunton says:

    If you like Doo Wop or 50’s early 60’s Rock n Roll….head down to Old Town tonight from 6:00 till 9:00 PM and listen to “The Dukes”. It’s free and they have cold draught on tap.

  27. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Petrossa: Thanks for remembering it to me. I´ll prepare a tea of it right now.

  28. dearieme says:

    I got a cheque (check) for a consulting job with Dupont about thirty years ago. Having spare time, I walked into a branch of the bank that issued the cheque, in Philly. No they wouln’t cash it. Hmph!

    The next Saturday I was in a small town in the Scottish borders and walked into a bank branch waving the cheque. The cashier looked up her list of transaction charges, exchange rates, and commissions, and gave me the sterling into my very hands. It helped that I’d been at school with her, but still.

    A couple of our banks have proven to be rotten investment banks but as retail banks ours seem far superior. In Britain nobody pays their mortgage with cheques. We make regular payments electronically: for fixed monthly (or weekly, quarterly, fortnightly, annually or every 28 days) amounts using Standing Orders; for variable amounts, such as utility bills and propery tax, you pay electronically with Direct Debits. If you want to move money from one account to another (at another bank) you go online and use Faster Payments: they claim that transfers can take up to two hours but in practice it seems to be more like two seconds.

    You’ll be telling me next that you chaps still sign slips of paper when you use credit cards!

  29. Gail Combs says:

    dearieme says
    .

    …..You’ll be telling me next that you chaps still sign slips of paper when you use credit cards!
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    No I use cash. I just paid the electric bill by stopping in and handing them the statement and $$$. Sears lets me pay my phone bill the same way, with cash.

    The only reason we pay the mortgage by internet is because my husband insists on doing it that way.

  30. Petrossa says:

    Over here paying in cash is only allowed to the amount of 1500 Euro. No way you can pay your uitility bills in cash. Cheques are accepted. Strangely enough the IRS is exempt, you an pay whatever you want in cash :)

  31. Gail Combs says:

    Petrossa, my bill for electric for a month was less that $200 USD or ~ 150 Euro and the phone is less than $100USD (I remember when both were $10/month) so not a problem.

    Given the ‘Cyprus Haircut’ and the fact that every dollar I put in to the bank they can use to generate nine more, I do not use the banks any more than I have to.

    Obamacare tried to push small businesses into using credit cards but it flopped do no doubt to Walmart/Sam’s Club, Lowes & Home Depot nixing it. (Too much paperwork for them) They all sell ‘Wholesale’ to small businesses. SEE: Obamacare’s 1099 reporting requirements must be repealed for why this got part of Obummercare got the ax.

  32. j ferguson says:

    Dearieme,
    The cards with chips continue to be unavailable in the US. I couldn’t get one for my recent visit to civilisation either, even though my bank does issue them to its European customers. So you are correct, people all over England now know that i can’t sign my name.

    Is anyone interested in how to skim money with a trade school, how a hotel can be used as a laundry by the mob, or how a world-class swindler works?

    It could be that i was the only one enchanted by the MIA jet-fuel theft scheme.

  33. crosspatch says:

    Even the “electronic check” I “wrote” on Sunday for the credit card hasn’t “cleared” yet

    I once waited 3 days for a CASH deposit to “clear” at a bank in Virginia.

  34. philjourdan says:

    @Crosspatch – maybe it is just Virginia? ;-)

  35. Verity Jones says:

    @jferguson – very interested. And I certainly did appreciate the jet-fuel scam. I just did’t get around to commenting.

  36. CompuGator says:

    Chiefio posted (11 June 2013):

    A very small sign […] says, roughly: “Dear guests,
    as of [some date], we are adding a resort fee of $6 which with [tax, … handling, …] comes to about $7 a day.” Sorry, that’s just a flavor of “Bait & Switch” and I don’t do bait and switch. Out the door [….] For those who don’t know, given the “success” of fees in the airlines, hotels are getting in on the act with the Resort Fee. This can range all over the place, even well into double digits a day at high end places. It’s just a scam. You often only find out you’ve been racking up “resort fees” at checkout.

    What timing! Did you happen to see to see the Orlando Sentinel‘s front-page article (albeit below-the-fold), just 1 day earlier (printed on Monday, June 10, p. A1, A4; posted on 9:53 p.m. EDT, June 9, 2013)? “‘Resort fee’ starts popping up on more hotel bills“, by Sara K. Clarke (staff writer)?

    Ranging in Orlando from just a few dollars to as much as $30 a day, these catchall hotel fees are catching on in the nation’s second-biggest hospitality market and in other popular travel destinations nationwide. [….] But these resort fees, which might cover things such as Internet access, a fitness center or pool, are usually mandatory and, if combined with a daily parking fee, can increase the cost of a vacation or business trip by hundreds of dollars a week.

    There was an unattributed table on the paper’s Web site (posted on “9:53 p.m. EDT, June 9, 2013”): “Orlando’s biggest resort fees, parking fees“. Worst daily (overall): $30 Nickelodeon Suites Resort. Worst overnight parking: $18 self-serve, or $25 valet, at the pretentiously ‘e’-terminated Grande Lakes (Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott).

    One source used by the Sentinel might be worth keeping an eye on for some readers here:

    FeeZing.com, an upstart Internet site that has begun tracking such fees. Bill Maloney, the site’s founder, started by focusing on the nation’s two largest hotel markets, Las Vegas and Orlando. The site also compiles fees charged by the major U.S. airlines.

    (Note to Chiefio: I’ve salted my submitted E-mail address in a style that I trust you’ll know how to restore to the one I previously used. A matter for me to comment on later under one of your earlier privacy topics.)

  37. CompuGator says:

    Ooops! The ‘strong’ tag immediately (and ironically) before “Worst” should’ve been ‘/strong’.

    Isn’t there some way to preview the formatting and other aspects of the appearance of my comments before I post them?

    Feel free to answer this in private e-mail and delete this in-topic correction & inquiry.

  38. j ferguson says:

    Ok Verity. Here is how the trade school skim works. You establish a trade school which has a variety of courses and paths leading to various arts degrees. Over the years you get the certifications appropriate to this sort of institution and teach marketable skills especially attractive to young people throughout the western hemisphere. In addition to the course material the students also benefit from the opportunity to tune up their English, and if the school is in Miami, plenty of shopping and fraternization with other countrymen.

    The scheme which I describe below would only make sense if the school is a private, for-profit institution. There are many like this in the US. It also must be very profitable. I know several which are – with almost unbelievable margins.

    The problem to be solved is how not to share too much of the profits with the tax people.

    In the ’80s and ’90s when this scheme was in use, credit was not uniformly reliable across national borders. For this reason and several others many students would pay their tuition and fees with CASH.

    This cash is collected and cash-paying students registered by trusted family members of the school’s owner. The cash goes overseas by attache case and the students are put on full-ride scholarships unbeknownst to them. It is critical that they don’t find out. The books show the cost of their scholarships but do not show their cash payments. The school’s apparent profitability is reduced and with that the tax burden. And there is the off-shore accumulation of cash unknown to the revenue folks.

    Obviously the school must be wildly profitable. Old buildings, no ivy, and unusually poorly paid faculty. Sound familiar? Unusually poorly paid faculty means faculty having some character defect or “history” which makes them unemployable in a more traditional institution. And this does not in any way suggest that they are not competent. Many of them are outstanding in every aspect affecting educational work.

    If interest in these tales continues I’ll go on to how to launder ill-gotten gains with a hotel.

  39. Verity Jones says:

    @jferguson
    I obviously had a very sheltered upbringing :-0

  40. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jim2:

    Don’t know as a Yurt is sturdy enough in places with gators ;-)

    @Sera:

    Thanks!

    I’m presently running about $900 / month with everything I need, utilities included, and maid service. Oh, and I’m 5 to 9 minutes from work… It may be hard to beat that…

    @J. Ferguson:

    I’d be glad to live on a boat… other than that I think the A/C might be a bit tricky to arrange ;-)

    Oh, and don’t know if there are any marinas around “inland”… but with all the lakes their ought to be…

    I’m not particularly feeling the need to ‘own’ here. Not land anyway. I haven’t got enough years to pay off a mortgage, don’t want an illiquid investment (when I can use REITs instead) and generally don’t like maintenance… So a “4 or 5 years lease” then being a vagabond would be fine…

    Interesting story on the fuel… Yes, surprising that many folks kept a secret…

    @Ralph B:

    I lived on a 27 foot sail boat for a year or two. It was the cold and damp winter and the eventual mold that got to me. (The mold ate a favored book and W.W.II long army coat…)

    @R. de Haan:

    Had a similar thing here last trip. At Red Roof Inn. Asked for best rate. Clerk says number that’s not best. I say “that’s not what I saw on the internet page”. Clerk says “need an internet reservation for that”. I say “You have a room?”. Yes, says he. I say “So I can hit Starbucks with my laptop in 3 minutes down the street…” Cluefull clerk says “I think I can give you the internet rate…”

    @Adolfo:

    It also makes me handy with a hammer… Have I ever mentioned that the Battle Hammer was the more common and more lethal weapon during medieval times? ;-)

    But yeah, I’m “living cheap”… Though I think I’d still do it if I had $Billion….

    “Enough is sufficient.” -E. M.Smith ;-)

    @Petrossa:

    OK, with a double endorsement I guess I need to go find Cats Claw…. (Though any arthritic discomfort is nearly gone now… I think it is the combo of fewer allergens and more fish / omega 3 fatty acids in the diet.)

    @Dennis Dunton:

    I like them, but it’s likely I’m a bit late now ;-)

    Unfortunately, since this is a working trip, I’ve not got a lot of free time. Between work, laundry, food, car maintenance, logistics, etc. etc. I’ve got about 2 hours a day “for me”. Some days much less…. I’m hoping it settles down in the next couple of weeks.

    @Dearime:

    Got a check from a local business just before departure. To get some pocket money, I take it to BofA (on whom it was drawn). I had to show “government ID” and they had to do something to “verify” the check and tried to talk me out of cash. I asked “It’s a local check, drawn on your bank, are you saying your checks are only good for ‘your customers’?” (They had asked “was I a customer of BofA”?) Eventually they game me the cash…

    @Gail Combs:

    Thanks to the incessant sucking up of information to be used against you by any company and government who can get to it, I use exclusively cash payments whenever possible; other than the mortgage. Spouse thinks I’m a bit daft, but it is the only way to have a tiny bit of privacy. (Nobody but me needs to know where I bought groceries tonight and what wine was in the bag with what cheese, etc.)

    I do make an exception for things where I want a tax deduction record.

    @Crosspatch:

    Ouch! Hard to top that one…

    @Verity:
    Me too….

    @J. Ferguson:

    I’m more interested in how to get ill gotten gains (any gains, actually) ;-)

    In Silly Con Vally, I once went into a music store. Crappy selection of CDs, poor stock, one very bored tattooed guy. Complained about poor stuff and observed nearly no customers. Once back outside a friend explained to me I ought not to observe such things…. The mob washed cash there. LOADS of cash sales of product that was never in the store… presumably sold for more cash at a flea market or “ordered” and never delivered from some other overseas mob outlet…

    Clearly I’m in the wrong business and have been harmed by a lifetime of honesty and morals… I could not even imagine such a thing when I was standing in it…

  41. j ferguson says:

    E.M.
    We’re selling the boat. 20 years of possession and 10 of living aboard was enough. It has become an impediment to things we want to do in the next decade, so it’s an apartment with garage in Delray Beach. Finally my very own Logan and Bridgeport.

    The hotel laundry likely worked similarly to the CD store. In the late ’70s I worked for a guy who had made a lot of money building homes and schools in south suburban Chicago after the war. He was a friend of Dave Padden, Heartland founder, who supplied the reading list of libertarian books which kept all of us up late. He was given to investments with groups of friends; land in Arizona, oil wells in Southern Illinois (a good one), and then a hotel in Hollywood, FL. The hotel looked like a very good thing, booked up almost 100% during the season and almost 70% the rest of the year. This seemed unusual. It wasn’t Tom’s way to do a lot of research and I guess his friends didn’t either, so they bought the place and quickly learned the truth when the FBI visited them in the first few weeks after the purchase. It turned out the be true that the reported booking rates were unusual and in fact were nowhere close to the truth. The previous owners had realized that they had been detected and wanted out, hence the sale.

    The symptom that all was not as advertised turned out to be the evidence which found the previous operators housing at the expense of the rest of us. It was their laundry supplies and water usage bills. They were not using enough water and detergent to wash all the sheets that would have been used had they had the number of guests they claimed. Had Tom and his friends understood the business they would have caught this anomaly when they reviewed the books. Petrossa, I remember your remark about the monitoring of water meters in the low countries to catch off the books hair dressers.

    So you can also get caught if you don’t use enough water.

    Obviously the previous owners had been booking non-existent guests, and showing what they would have paid as actually paid. This would make the money clean, allow it to be taxed, and make it available for more legitimate enterprises.

    A question which occurs to me now is how they came up with the names and addresses for the guests. Did they all pay cash?

    See the wonderful Walter Matthau movie, “Charley Varrick” for another look at this topic.

  42. E.M.Smith says:

    @J. Ferguson:

    10 years of floating and bobbing… I suppose it does get old after a while.

    Ah, the water bill… Note to self: Never launder money in a place that uses “supplies” ;-)

    Then again, if we didn’t have so many stupid laws we would not have so many folks needing money laundries. Sometimes I really wonder why people can’t just leave each other alone…

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