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Reichette

Surprise Rules, Laws And Practices

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It would be interesting to hear of other people's surprise discoveries of oddities as far as road rules, city laws or whatever is concerned. Things that you really didn't know beforehand and that you either have discovered just in time to keep you out of trouble, or maybe only discovered after you were already in some kind of trouble... Or maybe just the discovery of some strange way that something works here as opposed to the way one would expect it to.

 

I'll mention a few that I had encountered so far:

 

The first and most obvious was the "strange" rule of giving way to traffic that comes off the freeway and onto the parallel running service road - it works opposite in South Africa. Related to that, is the rule requiring oncoming traffic on a two-way rural service road to come to a stop so that you may cross their lane in order to get onto the parallel running highway. (I'm so glad someone told me of that one before I wandered outside the city limits for the first time!).

 

After moving into our house, we had a ton of empty boxes to get rid of. Since I have never seen any neighbors putting theirs out with the trash bins, and realizing that even if I did try to cut them up and place them out once a week with my other trash in the one and only trash bin we had it would literally take me months to clear it all, I opted to seek out a dumpster at one of the nearby businesses... As it turned out, only after having dumped them all, my eye caught sight of the sign that boldly declared it illegal and that the dumpster is filmed and that they WILL prosecute! So it cost me half a day the next day to research the managing agent for the business park and to confess to them my infraction that may have resulted in a misdemeanor (i.e. criminal record)! Luckily they appreciated my sincere forthcoming and told me just not to do it again. In the state of Texas it is considered a "theft of service" to make use of a dumpster that someone else is paying for. (I guess it very logical (how dumb can you get, I hear you say) and maybe it just reveals my "dark illegal" past of occasionally dumping excess stuff in a nearby business dumpster while we were still living in JHB... :-) ).

 

Another surprise discovery: The longer the term of one's electricity contract, the more expensive it gets. 3 Months cheapest; 24 months most expensive.

 

How about this one: Prepaid cellular is often cheaper than contract phones (in our case anyway). We bought a couple of smart phones off Craigslist and have always just been on prepaid with unlimited data and unlimited calls ($70pm for two lines). We use Skype to call internationally if needed.

 

Here's another one: Forget about going to the Dr to get antibiotics for a flu or common cold. They're very shy of dishing out antibiotics here and you have to be near dead in order to get some prescribed. So we - like most other people - have just learned to wait it out for a couple of days until we feel better again.

 

One of the biggest misconceptions new job seekers from SA has, is the notion that once your Resume is submitted with a Recruiting Agency they will look out for a job for you. The truth is that they run it against their current openings and if no immediate match, they will more often than not, discard the resume right there. They may still keep your contact details on record, but will seldom or never continue to actively look for a job for you. That remains your responsibility.

 

O yes, and most everyone here still writes and accepts checks or credit card details sommer over the phone. You will almost NEVER be provided the banking details of a company, i.e. direct EFT from your bank account into a creditor's account is virtually non-existent in the US. That was a big eye opener for me, I must admit. Health providers will most always have an online facility through which you pay your bill by providing your credit card details. Online merchants may accept Paypal as well, but you'll never get given any of their banking details - EVER!

 

Many people here - me included - have a policy of not answering ANY calls that are unfamiliar, even if their number displays on the screen. Legitimate callers know this and they would always leave a message whereupon you know it was a safe call that can be returned. The problem with answering an unknown number right away is that, more often than not, it turns out to be a Telemarketer. Once you answered that call - often placed by calling robots - your number gets flagged as an active and responsive number which then gets sold on to be marketed to by other similar companies... So every missed call, if no message was left, gets Google'd since there are a number of web sites keeping track of all these pest callers. When it turns out to be one of them, I'd move their number to my phone's "reject" list.

 

There are many other oddities, especially when it comes to home ownership with permitting required to do some basic work, strange city ordinances, awkward HOA rules, etc. etc.

 

Would love to hear from others' experiences as well.

 

 

 

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Nice Post Reichette!

 

We often take trash to the dump over the weekend there should be a local dump in your neighborhood where you can usually dump goods including recycling of plastics and metals clothing ,books, bicycles, garden refuse and electronic equipment. They are usually open until 7:30 pm in the evening and 5 pm on weekends

its very handy to use. incorporate a drive to the dump while out shopping.

 

The garbage dumps are very well managed and very easy to offload trash etc..

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Yeah, so with time comes wisdom, I guess. Lol.

 

Have also since discovered all the wonderful services provided by our City free of charge - even free compost and dirt. I've just invested in a little 4x8 Harborfreight folding trailer to help me out with carting away the never ending garden trash... :-)

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I could not believe the archaic credit card payment process the USA (texas and florida we visited) have... When at a restaurant for example they swipe your credit card for a specific predetermined amount (which is done out of your sight) then come back with two receipts upon one you write the tip... Then you leave! And hope with all you have they eventually put the amount in that you wanted!!! You end up with many many authorisations (often 2 for each establishment you have visited) and it can take up to a month to have the excess amounts reversed... I still don't fully understand it- just thought that USA being basically the father of credit cards would be more advanced?? Or is there no credit card fraud??

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I could not believe the archaic credit card payment process the USA (texas and florida we visited) have... When at a restaurant for example they swipe your credit card for a specific predetermined amount (which is done out of your sight) then come back with two receipts upon one you write the tip... Then you leave! And hope with all you have they eventually put the amount in that you wanted!!! You end up with many many authorisations (often 2 for each establishment you have visited) and it can take up to a month to have the excess amounts reversed... I still don't fully understand it- just thought that USA being basically the father of credit cards would be more advanced?? Or is there no credit card fraud??

 

It's been a while since we did our Look-See-Decide trip to Maryland in 2011. If I recall correctly, our SA credit cards were also billed with a reserve that was later revised - even up to a few weeks later only. So I'm not sure if it is something that is more common with out-of-country credit cards. One would think VISA is VISA wherever you go.

 

What I do remember clearly is that some restaurants we visited had the "audacity" to bill you for a minimum service fee (tip), whether you liked it or not. It was always mentioned in their menus though.

Where we live, all the restaurants will swipe you card only after the meal. They'll issue the slip in duplicate. One is for you to keep, the other is obviously for the restaurant. Note, the card only gets swiped once. They would typically bill you right away for the cost of the meal and then maybe a couple of days later revise the amount for the inclusion of the tip. By the time the expense clears in your credit card account, it will be all inclusive.

 

We have never had any trouble with credit card fraud before. But what has happened many times already, is that the Bank will send you a replacement credit card out-of-the-blue on a good day, stating that they have picked up some or other irregularity. As I have said, we have never lost any monies, nor experienced being the victims of fraudulent tip amounts, etc. The laws are very strict in TX and a person will get locked up pretty good if they tried that.

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The same happened with our american debit card so not too sure if it has anything to do with the credit card being out-of-country... Same story with hotels.... The problem is just when you have a linited credit you start worrying when large amount authorisations are not being reversed in time for you to have access to your credit!!

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Regarding those irritating telemarketers calls. I herd that you can download or get a Google phone account number .With this device it recognizes telemarketers and even those 1800 number callers. once you get this linked to your phone, your phone will only ring once and then the call is dropped. - I need to investigate this option more just have not had the time.

 

I hear even my family in South Africa are also getting those calls from India where they are stating that they are calling from Microsoft about the errors being transmitted from their computer.

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Regarding those irritating telemarketers calls. I herd that you can download or get a Google phone account number .With this device it recognizes telemarketers and even those 1800 number callers. once you get this linked to your phone, your phone will only ring once and then the call is dropped. - I need to investigate this option more just have not had the time.

 

I hear even my family in South Africa are also getting those calls from India where they are stating that they are calling from Microsoft about the errors being transmitted from their computer.

 

 

Thanks for sharing that, Oscar.

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I herd that you can download or get a Google phone account number .With this device it recognizes telemarketers and even those 1800 number callers. once you get this linked to your phone, your phone will only ring once and then the call is dropped. - I need to investigate this option more just have not had the time.

I have a GoogleFi number and wasn't aware of this - is there anything I need to do to activate what you described or does it happen automatically?

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Hi Superkruz,! I will try to get some more information from my colleague in the IT department. He mentioned that this was working for him.

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Things that were a pleasant surprise:

Internet is properly fast. No more waiting for "buffering" watching videos on supposedly best SA speeds

The mail works

Amazon/USPS/FedEx etc leave parcels outside your front door...and they're still on your porch even when you were away for a long weekend

No walls or burglar bars, kids leave bicycles and stuff outside overnight and no problems

People are up in arms about crime when something gets stolen out of a car...that was left unlocked in the driveway overnight

Banks open till 6pm...without those secure doors and windows separating you from the tellers, etc

Delivery often happens 7 days a week and the guys bringing furniture etc will have overshoes, mats to protect your floors, etc

 

Things useful to know:

Stop for school buses with red lights flashing even if you are the other side of the road ...even locals get this wrong sometimes (and our bored local cops will often shadow the school buses to make sure this is enforced!)

Driving varies hugely depending where you are. LA or NY is like driving in Joburg. East Bay Area on the other hand, people will brake for you if you just look like you may be vaguely be contemplating crossing the road...

 

Things I miss most about SA:

Cheap domestic labor, jelly tots, Nandos.

 

Tinjana, never had the card issues you talk about with holds, except a few years ago on holiday when I was using one of those "travelcard" debit cards for a hotel where they did that - no other SA or US cards have done that for me - though like others I have had 'pending' transactions lower than the final where the tip is added onto the latter. Hotels will sometimes bill for possible extras too but that too comes on my account as "pending" and the final amount comes through higher or lower as necessary after checkout. No double debits.

I did have an attempted fraud on my credit card - the bank is super alert to these and it queried the transaction - cancelled my card but sent a new one overnight mail.

Also like if you're out with friends and want to split the bill, each person/couple just puts a card down and they do it automatically for you - SA restaurants won't do that

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Okay interesting.... When we got to Miami Airport we saw the first portable card machine that was brouggt to us at the table and we paid just like we do here in SA- waiter said this was the new procedure and he was totally baffled by it! So maybe oher states have started doing it the way we know (and trust! ) thank you for all the feedback!!

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Okay interesting.... When we got to Miami Airport we saw the first portable card machine that was brouggt to us at the table and we paid just like we do here in SA- waiter said this was the new procedure and he was totally baffled by it! So maybe oher states have started doing it the way we know (and trust! ) thank you for all the feedback!!

Yeah they just introduced chip cards here and boy has it caused headaches! And we're like...you know the rest of the world has been using these for a few years already :D

Someone said to me that what happens in the US is that because they start the trends and adopt the infrastructure early, they often end up with this massive infrastructure that ends up behind the advances subsequently made elsewhere...and because everyone has it installed, it becomes harder to change until they are basically forced into it. This does kind of seem like what happens. I seem to recall it was also cited as the reason that was it maybe 5 or 6 years ago the US was behind other countries in cellphone tech (re 3G back then), though that now seems sorted out as well.

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You are allowed to turn right on a red light - when it is safe to do so, of course.

 

Oregonians do not pay sales tax and it is illegal to fuel your own car. We have gas attendants.

 

It is illegal to whistle underwater. People were told for many years that such a law exists in Oregon, but it is not true. Thus, it is legal to whistle underwater...

 

Twenty-four-hour shopping! And in many states beer, wine and spirits (in big bottles) are available in supermarkets. Not in Oregon shops though, only wine and beer.

 

The biggest thing to wrap one's head around is the fact that laws and rules differ from state to state. We have a situation where a Walgreens in Portland (Oregon) and another one in Vancouver (Washington) are 5.5 miles apart, but they don't sell the same Sudafed product. Why? Well, the "real" Sudafed sold in Washington State contains pseudoephedrine, a banned substance in Oregon. The result is... Sudafed in Oregon sucks.

 

States are divided into counties and counties into cities - and they do not necessarily follow the same laws, rules or regulations. Indian reservations have there own sets of laws. And when it comes to law enforcement officers, we have State Troopers, County Sheriffs and their deputies and each city (of note) has its own police force. The FBI overrules them all.

 

One of the strangest legal situations in the USA is to be found in Moore County, Tennessee. It is a "dry" county, meaning that no alcohol is sold there, but it is home to Lynchburg, the town where Jack Daniels whiskey is distilled. Go figure!

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While not a law, one of the things that new arrivals will encounter almost immediately and frequently is the tipping system in America. Best advice: forget what, who and how much you tip in South Africa, it is totally different here.

 

Some examples: At a restaurant, 10% is an insulting tip - indicating you feel you had bad service. 15-18% is about barely the minimum acceptable, and 20% more common for your average, good service. 25% is also quite common for good service.

 

Loads of other service providers you don't necessarily tip in SA, you will be tipping here - e.g. hairdresser - around 15 - 20%. You often find restaurants offer 'free' valet parking, but a tip of $2 to $5 is expected when you get your car back etc. (but at least you don't have any car guards to tip)

 

For the newly arrived saffer with Rands, handing out a restaurant tip for a $150 meal could mean handing over the equivalent of about R450 in tip alone - and that would be totally expected/normal. So, the sooner you forget about rands, the better.

Edited by Malamute
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