vrijdag 27 maart 2009

Just another bad day...

How (a bad day) day fills itself with impressions:

No parkingspace at station; GRMBL
A long walk through pouring rain to station; GRMBL ánd bad hairday...
Train 17 minutes late; GRMBL
Clerk at shop finds it necessary to 'be smart' ; JUST LISTEN AND GIVE WHAT I ASKED
Test, software not OK; HMMMM
Test2, first bug gone, second one found; HMMMM
Test3, blocking, stop testing; GRMBL
Make report using lots of bright and happy colours to make NOGO message a happy one?
Most men in 1st class coach have stupid shawls; STUPID!!!
Men with Fisherman's Friends find it necessary to smack their lips; IRRITATING!!!
Men in first class stare at you (I'm wearing jeans and sweater) because they think you are in first 'illegal', just to look outside or in the paper after the conducteur came by and 'OK-ed' my ticket; IDIOTS (and SNOBS!)
Man in first class found it necessary to wriggle himself through people on the balcony of train just to find at the station that everybody has to get out there (that was the reason everybody was on the balcony perhaps?): STUPID!!!
Long walk back to car; GRMBL
Husband has really awfull 'music' on at home; GRMBL
I'm starting to really get a cold; GRMBL

vrijdag 13 maart 2009

NS BusinessCard especially business for NS (Dutch Railways)

One of my intentions for this year is making use of my NS Businesscard optimally now this card is also available for employees of our company without a leasecar. But apparently the advantage is mostly for the Dutch Railways themselves!

I commute between Alkmaar and Amsterdam on daily bases by thirst class coach. I don’t buy a return-ticket, because it is cheaper to buy a single trip in the morning (rush hour tariff) and a single trip in the afternoon (reduced tariff) in combination with a ‘Reduction hours cars’ (dutch: voordeelurenkaart). (EUR 21,20 v.s. EUR 18,40).
With the businesscard I get a discount of 13% in the rush hour period and a reduction of 20% in the reduced tariff period. A return ticket with the business card costs EUR 18,44.
I seems cheaper to use the businesscard because the reductioncard also costs money (EUR 55,00/ year), but this isn’t entirely true.

With the businesscard, I can’t take somebody with me on reduced tariff and with the reductioncard I can. If I use the reductioncard next to the businesscard the advantage is more visible. With my contruction of buying a single trip in the morning and in the afternoon, I pay EUR 16,90. After 37 days the break-even point for my reductioncard is reached. The businesscard hasn’t given me a ‘hughe’ advantage except the 13% in rush-hour.

Now this seems a nice benefit, but not everything is like it seems. This benefit is only applicable when booked via internet. On the internet no costs are calculated, when using the phone the costs are ’10 eurocents par minute (plus the costs of your mobile provider)’. And then the misery really starts: a voice response system. I don’t know if anybody has ever used a similar system, then you probably know what menace this can be!

The computer doesn’t tolerate any backgroundnoises. It starts with the originating station. I can now tell from experience that ‘Alkmaar Noord’ apparently sounds like ‘Emmeloord’ and all other places ending on ‘Noord’ or ‘Oord’. Sometimes even stations like ‘Horst Sevenum’, ‘Schiedam’and ‘Amersfoort Schothorst’ are confirmed and I can’t imagine my speech is that miserable. I can imagine that by getting more and more frustrated you try to articulate more and more and the computer understands less and less of this (not to mention the surprised faces on the platforms). The average time a call lasts is 6 minutes, the longest call was 12 where I finally had to record my journey on a tape so a typist could insert my journey later on. ‘The computer was very sorry, but couldn’t understand my journey’, I couldn’t either: Rotterdam Blaak to Leeuwarden via AlkmaarNoord before nine o’clock in the morning. The costs for a call are from EUR 0,60 to EUR 1,20 average. My profits with the businesscard are thus reduced to ‘nihil’ when using the card for which it is intended: traveling by train.

But apparently there are also all kinds of other extra’s. Like the Hispeed Businesslounge. In Utrecht open till 22.00 (other locations 20.00), always handy when waiting on the train after a practicemeeting which lasted till ten.

Or what about the SMART that awaits on a station. Easy access; businesscard against the window (reservations to be made first), businesscard in the computer and the glove compartment opens with the fuel card, parking card and keys are inside.
How convenient… well it should for EUR 10 per hour!
Mind; at SIXX a smart costs EUR 5 per day and at the Smart dealer EUR 5 lease, per day. When reservations are made you can rent a smart at Herz (directly situated behind the station of Utrecht) for EUR 20,00 a day.

When traveling to Papendorp by bus (before 6 o’clock this is easily done) and back to the station by taxi I travel much cheaper. The bus costs EUR 2,40 and the taxi (UTC) EUR 12,50, which adds up to EUR 14,90. Last time I rented the NS Smart from 16.30 – 22.30 I paid EUR 60,- . When renting a taxi via the businesscard the taxi is more expensive mind you, because you have to book from a preferred supplier.

The OV Bike I haven’t tried yet. But because of my experiences I wonder if there is any advantage or that it is also an empty gesture.

The next huge advantage is parking at the station. Normally I park for free, but sometimes I have to park at a paid lot. A day ticket costs EUR 3.90. With the business card I pay EUR 3.40. I find this a huge profit! - NOT

The last benefit of the businesscard I tried is the HOTSPOT pre-paid account for EUR 9,95.
Ever tried to connect to the internet, make a VPN connection AND download your mail in the time a train stops at a station? You better pray that an old lady with rollator wants to get the train and the conductor is nice enough to wait.

There are even some disadvantages of using the businesscard (which is also a OV card) where I won’t get into in this blog, which is long enough already.
It’s nice to have a card which is supposed to give a lot of profit, but in this case the profit isn’t that obvious. Despite my good intentions.