Enlightened Nation To Banks: Either Explain Excessive Fees Or Eliminate Them

Enlightened Nation To Banks: Either Explain Excessive Fees Or Eliminate Them

Australian consumers will soon be able to challenge any bank fee that they consider “unreasonable,” thanks to a new law that could save consumers up to $1 billion. Banks that want to keep levying excessive fees for late payments and overdrafts will need to prove that the charges are reasonable by revealing the true processing costs behind the fee.

Frustrated Customer Hacks Into DSL Website, Fixes Own Customer Service Issues, Is Thanked By Company Bigwig

Frustrated Customer Hacks Into DSL Website, Fixes Own Customer Service Issues, Is Thanked By Company Bigwig

When three months of phone calls and a $44 fee still didn’t result in the name change he’d requested on his DSL account, Aussie techie Douglas decided to hop onto the website’s customer portal and fix it himself using a Firebug plug-in. Since the site was extremely poorly engineered and he is a smartypants, he found it ridiculously easy to achieve. When he proudly posted the story to a programming blog, the DSL company wrote in to congratulate him.

ID An ATM Skimmer

ID An ATM Skimmer

Here’s a 24-page PDF of a powerpoint on ATM skimmers that’s making the rounds in Australia. If you’ve been reading every ATM skimming post, most of this is review, but it contains several more examples of what skimmers can look like and what to watch out for. Though it’s from an Australian bank, most of the information is general enough to apply to any ATM. A handy document to pass around to friends and family to warn them about ATM skimming dangers.

Cascade Beer Drinkers Defeat Grocery Shrink Ray

Cascade Beer Drinkers Defeat Grocery Shrink Ray

When Fosters-owned Cascade beer (different from regular Fosters in that it tastes decent) switched to 330ml from 375ml while charging the same price, consumers let their discontent be known in a highly visible fashion: they stopped buying it. Fosters reported a 33% drop in sales and some retailers reported up to a 50% drop. In response to the steep drop-off, Fosters is going back to 375ml, the standard size for canned beers in Australia.

United's Secret Australia Sale: ~$1000 Round Trip Tickets

United's Secret Australia Sale: ~$1000 Round Trip Tickets

If you want to hit Australia like right now,United is having an unadvertised sale with roundtrip tickets for about $1000, no advance purchase required. For instance, JFK is only $973 with taxes. Usually no advance purchase required tickets cost a pretty penny. The deal is good at airports all across the nation. Qantas is price-matching the sale, too.

That Burning From Mouthwash? It's Cancer

That Burning From Mouthwash? It's Cancer

Great news, kids! Australian researcher Michael McCullough says you should stop using alcoholic mouthwashes like Listerine and Scope because they could give you oral cancer.

Grocery Shrink Ray Goes Down Under, Attacks Aussie Sprunch Hairspray

Grocery Shrink Ray Goes Down Under, Attacks Aussie Sprunch Hairspray

Looks like the Grocery Shrink Ray took a working vacation down under this summer. Reader Meg tells us that her redesigned Aussie Sprunch hairspray shriveled from 12 ounces to 10.2 ounces. Gone too is an adorable yellow kangaroo, mercilessly consumed, we presume, by the insatiable Grocery Shrink Ray.

Australian TV Investigates, Uncovers Pattern Of Abuse At "Rude Feedback" Restaurant

Apparently, the email has caused such an outpouring of similar customer service stories that the restaurant is actually closed.

http://consumerist.com/2008/02/17/like-kangaroos-flights-down-under/

Like kangaroos? Flights down under may soon cost less thanks to an open skies agreement signed by the U.S. and Australia that will smash apart the duopoly enjoyed by Qantas and United. Richard Branson’s discount Australian airline, Virgin Blue, has already submitted an application to mix things up and drive fares south. [L.A. Times]

Restaurant Gives Patron Feedback

Restaurant Gives Patron Feedback

Here’s proof that bad customer service, like haggling and buyer’s remorse, is a universal human condition. A woman in Brisbane, Australia saw an ad for 50% off the bill at Casa Flamenco, a local restaurant, so she and some friends went out for dinner. The experience wasn’t good—untrained waiter, mediocre food, small servings, long wait time, and despite the half-off coupon the meal was surprisingly expensive for the value. The woman—a restaurant marketer—wrote a polite email to the restaurant with some professional feedback and suggestions on how to improve service.

http://consumerist.com/2007/12/31/dont-bring-3000-worth-of/

Don’t bring $3000 worth of wine to Melbourne’s Tullmarine airport packed in your carry-on luggage, because they are hardcore. [News.com.au via Fark]

How The "Date Rape Drug" Was Found Inside A Children's Toy

How The "Date Rape Drug" Was Found Inside A Children's Toy

The New York Times has a great article about the doctor who figured out that the “Aqua Dots” or “Bindeez” beads were full of GHB. It reads like a summary of an episode of House, M.D.:

Doctors at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, outside Sydney, first believed that the 2-year-old boy, whose name has not been released, had an inherited metabolic disorder. But when Dr. Carpenter checked urine samples the next day for the chemical markers of the disorder, he found GHB, which can render victims unconscious and even cause death through respiratory failure.

Popular Australian Toy Filled With GHB

Popular Australian Toy Filled With GHB

A toy that won the Australian Toy of the Year award this year has been recalled because it contains small beads that are filled a glue the body metabolizes into GHB. As in gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid, a party drug popular among ravers.

http://consumerist.com/2007/09/26/add-barmaid-to-your/

Add “barmaid” to your list of toxic things to avoid in Australia. The woman, a 23-year-old former employee of a Melbourne nightclub, and someone police say is “known for her prankster-style behavior,” served a patron a shot of Pine-O-Cleen disinfectant during a 6 a.m. “drinking bout.” The victim survived but developed ulcers on his skin. The ex-barmaid now faces “four charges of intentionally causing injury.” Man, everything cool happens in Australia. [Reuters]

New Zealand And Australia Recall Chinese-Made Formaldehyde Tainted Blankets

New Zealand And Australia Recall Chinese-Made Formaldehyde Tainted Blankets

The formaldehyde-tainting scandal over in New Zealand and Australia continues today with a recall of Chinese-made blankets that are so full of formaldehyde that they could cause skin or respiratory irritation, according to the Associated Press.

Wholesale firm Charles Parsons said the level of formaldehyde in the Superlux brand of blankets ‘may cause short-term skin or respiratory irritation.’

Messiah The Cat Gets $4200 Credit Card

Messiah The Cat Gets $4200 Credit Card

Meow! Meow! That’s the sound of Messiah, a cat, charging expensive lingerie on his new credit card.

UPDATE: Vegemite Not Banned

UPDATE: Vegemite Not Banned

Reader David informs us that Vegemite, a salty, paste-like spread, and an Australian national delicacy, was never banned. It was all a hoax. We are upset; there’s nothing we enjoy more than irritated Aussies. We are further upset because we would have known it was a hoax if we had been reading the comments more closely.

U.S. Government Sparks Australian Riot, Bans Vegemite

Reminding many Americans of the salty brown discharge of a dehydrated woman with a yeast infection than any real replacement for that prince of sandwich condiments, peanut butter, the rugged Aussie thrives on the stuff. For years, Australian ex-patriates have been mollified into joining the melting pot by regularly importing the “delicacy.”