5 Hal yang Bisa Mengisi Kesendirianmu, Demi Masa Jomblo yang Lebih Berkualitas
Procuraduría Federal del Consumidor (PROFECO), Mexico's Federal Office of Fair Trading, is the closest you can get to an American or Canadian style government administered consumer protection bureau and mediation facility. Its Oaxaca regional office is run in a relatively swift and efficient manner, meaning that it is extremely user friendly from the perspective of an expat seeking recourse against trades and businesses located both in the state and further abroad. Naturally, though, it's subject to limitations, and to idiosyncrasies to which we are not accustomed. I purchased a hot water heater made by Hidro Electrica, SA de CV (HESA), which to my amazement came with an eight-year limited warranty. Usually in Oaxaca one buys domestically produced or assembled goods with a 30 day guarantee. In the odd case it's for three months (extended warranties are rarely available, since manufacturers and insurers are aware of the lack of adequate quality control in Mexican production). Typically your widget stops widgeting within a week after expiry date ... be it a washing machine, microwave, TV, or long-life bulb. After about a year one side of the dual-tank HESA boiler sprang a leak, and then a couple of months later the other side followed suit. After six months and several phone calls to my retailer, Tubos y Conexiones, the HESA authorized repairman arrived with two pairs of replacement tanks, neither of which matched the tanks which came with the unit I had purchased. "Don't worry," Roberto assured. "I'll bring you the right tanks when they're in stock, so just choose one of these two sets for the time being so your heater will at least function." Whenever you sign anything, if you're not entirely satisfied with the service provided or product received, qualify your acknowledgment. Doing so assists when availing yourself of the resources of PROFECO. "Temporary solution pending the arrival of the elite stainless steel tanks," I noted on the work order. Anything in writing appears to be taken as gospel in Oaxaca, therefore regarded as almost irrefutable evidence. Just ask anyone who's been held in jail for two years pending trial, based on little more than newspaper clippings alleging criminal activity. Over the course of the next year I periodically attended at Tubos y Conexiones, each time pleading with my contact person, Boneque the branch manager, to help me get the proper tanks before the replacements went awry. Boneque was in fact cooperative, so much so that he admitted to me that the HESA service department had become a real pain, with complaints and lack of their resolution mounting. Hilda, HESA's Oaxaca representative, had left the company, and serviceman Roberto was no longer accepting work from the manufacturer. Three or four emails to the HESA service department went unanswered, as did the message left at HESA for its chief technician. Hearing "Mr. Levin will return your call in 15 minutes," by this time did not instill the confidence in the company I had been seeking. With my bill of sale and warranty booklet, copies of emails, the qualified work order acknowledgement, and notes of every communication or attempt at reaching a resolution all in hand, I attended at the offices of a friend, litigator Lic. Edna Franco: "Don't worry about my fee Alvin. My concern is that on a claim worth less than 15,000 pesos, the out-of-pockets will kill you. Go to PROFECO ... that's what I tell all my clients to do before they retain me." Oaxaca doesn't have a small claims court system, which means that regardless of the peso value of your claim your costs will be the same, subject to working out a deal with your lawyer for a reduced fee. Edna advised me that proceeding through the court system on your own, even for a former Canadian litigation lawyer, is an almost insurmountable task. Hence, PROFECO is the way to go, subject to your fact situation meeting its mandate and guidelines, and your willingness to use a government-run mediation facility. The Oaxaca PROFECO offices are well staffed, yet used by a relatively modest percentage of the populace, meaning that compared to government offices of transportation, immigration and taxation for example, they are a welcomed and expedient breath of fresh air. Intake reviews your documentation and advises what if anything is lacking, and how many copies are required. Your primary advisor then reviews your paperwork, asks for clarification, and prepares a claim package. Feel free to supplement the information she selects to append to your claim, by suggesting the inclusion of any additional documentation you might have. Remember that as competent and seemingly helpful as she might appear, she is nevertheless a Oaxacan civil servant: "Is it okay if we also attach copies of these notes I made over the past year?," I queried. More hard evidence. My initial September 11, 2008, attendance terminated with a hearing date I negotiated to meet my schedule, October 10, 2008. "You know," advised Aurea Guzman Palacios, "you should also name your retailer, Tubos y Conexiones, as a respondent, even though it seems like it didn't do anything wrong." I wouldn't have advised a client with a legal dispute any differently! "We'll look after serving them, but remember to make sure you're here at 10 am sharp on the October 10th." Even in Toronto we're accustomed to giving 15 minutes grace, so how could it possibly be that Oaxaca, government to boot, could possibly adhere to a more stringent and exacting timetable? Service of the proceeding and notice of the date is effected by the regional PROFECO office where the company carries on business. In the case of HESA, this meant in the State of Mexico. A Tubos y Conexiones representative attended, arriving shortly before the appointed hour. HESA was a no show. The PROFECO mediator, Javier, called the Estado de México PROFECO process server, and was advised that HESA was not served because company employees were on strike and the factory was shut down. The mediator was skeptical, indicating to me that sometimes federal government employees forget to do their jobs, or simply can't be bothered and make up stories. But in this case we should give them the benefit of the doubt and simply ask them to once again try to serve the documentation with a fresh return date, a month down the road. November 10th was set for the new appointment, with more documentation drafted, the preamble including the circumstances of the adjournment. Before conceding that PROFECO was unable to serve HESA, in the presence of Javier the conciliator and Engineer Octavio the Tubos representative, I called the HESA offices. Lorena Torres, receptionist, advised me that the employees were not on strike, nor had they been in the recent past, and that the company was functioning as normal. So much for the veracity of the State of Mexico PROFECO process server. PROFECO levies a fine against a company for each missed appointment, the amount increasing with each failed attendance. Should HESA fail to attend the next date, after having received notice, the fine would be 172.79 pesos, making it hardly a compelling reason for the company to send someone from head office. By the time November 10th had arrived, my hot water heater, wrong new tanks still in place, had once again sprung a leak, albeit a small one. The main implication is that the dripping water puts out the pilot from time to time, so unless you're constantly checking, you never know when your shower will be hot or cold. Neither HESA nor Tubos attended on the new date for the proceeding. The PROFECO mediator checked on his computer, and with the State of Mexico regional office, once again being led to believe that HESA was on strike. And once again I called HESA and confirmed that business was operating as normal, without strike. "Don Alvin," Javier assured, "we'll try to serve HESA once more, and hopefully this time the process server's supervisor will have a word with him and tell him that there is no strike." More importantly, the conciliator decided to levy a 3,000 peso fine against Tubos for not sending its representative to this second meeting.
If you have a job where you deal with international business you may struggle with how to improve your spoken English. With so many options out there it is hard to know which method is the best. There are books, tapes, online courses and traditional English classes. It is important to consider the options carefully. While books may be convenient and cheap they often fall down when it comes to improving your conversational English. For improving conversation skills it is best to consider an option that gives you the opportunity to speak with a native speaker of English. Native speakers are the best learning tool for you if you want to know how to improve your spoken English. People who grew up speaking English have an inherent understanding of the language. They can tell just by hearing something whether it is right. While someone who has learned the language can become quite proficient they never gain this inherent understanding. This understanding is critical to teaching a language especially English. There are phrases that seem like they are grammatically correct but just do not sound right. A native speaker has a distinct advantage when helping a student understand these kinds of phrases. Online tools and traditional classrooms both offer the advantage of a native speaker but for many traveling business men a traditional classroom is not an option. When on the road it is still possible to log in to an online English course. If you want to know how to improve your spoken English checking out some of these sites can be a good starting point. Most of these offer some sort of personalized instruction and many resources for language learning. With many hotels now offering wireless internet access it is easier than ever to study even on the road. Another resource for you if you want to learn how to improve your spoken English is to make friends who speak the language you want to learn. When I was studying Japanese I learned just as much about the spoken language from hanging out in bars with native speakers as I did when I was in the classroom. The one on one attention of an online English course is very similar to this since you can just speak back and forth and let the teacher correct you when you make a mistake. This will not only improve your language skills but also your confidence in speaking the language.
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