Category Archives: Uncategorized

And moving on to the bathroom…..

Last Thursday, the carpenter and his helper were scheduled to deliver the corner shelf we had commissioned for the bathroom. On Wednesday, he called to ask whether I wanted clear or pebbled amber glass for the doors. The colored glass of course. Okie Dokie then, they’d be there sometime on Thursday.

So since they weren’t there first thing in the morning, I gave them a call to see when they would arrive. The tentative time was about 6 pm that afternoon. Ok, well, that’s a little late and of course since we use solar energy, if the installation required a lot of power, this could be an issue. 

Actually, it was nearly 8 pm when they arrived. Despite our power concerns, they were able to get the installation done in less than an hour. Apparently, the vidriería (glass shop) where they get their glass was closed and that held them up. 

You can see in this picture that the door is a lighter brown than the corner cabinet.

The one issue that did come up, is the color. Despite having the entire kitchen done by them in a specific wood color, the corner shelf was considerably darker when it arrived. As my husband set this project up, I wasn’t privy to what color he specified but he didn’t seem too happy about it. 

Even though it doesn’t match the door or towel holder or anything in the kitchen, it does match the curtain rod we moved from the kitchen to the bathroom, so I am fine with it. It extends from floor to ceiling and unlike the kitchen cupboards, I can reach all but the topmost shelf, which makes me happy. 

It’s too tall to get a fill picture no matter where I stood. This is the upper half.

So my husband paid and the carpenters left. A few minutes later, I got a call saying that we had OVERPAID by $200 pesos and that we could pick the money up at the carpintería on Monday, which we did. Now how often does that happen in Mexico? 

That’s the final project we have scheduled for awhile. We need to change the bathroom sink faucet out since the one that’s there now leaks, but that’s a small thing overall. 

As far as I’m concerned, the inside of the house is completely finished. Now on to the outside!

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Doors and Windows

The same ferretería guy who did the zaguán and front window was in charge of the back door and back window at my sister-in-law T’s house. It was a full two weeks before any progress was made. 

He went twice during that time to the tortillería to ask for more money to finish the job. My husband told his sister that she was not to give him any more money until the job was finished. More than half of the total price had already been paid, which was more than enough for the material needed. So she didn’t.

Of course, that just delayed things even longer. Every time my husband went to see what day to expect them for installation, it was always “mañana.”(tomorrow). Well, mañana is a long time coming here in Mexico. 

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They did finally arrive, the one day my husband couldn’t be here. So my son was in charge of supervision. The door was installed. As you can see from the picture, it’s quite a bit smaller than the frame and will need to be cemented in place.  

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Back yard view.

The window fit a little better, but the sliding track is bent or something. It is hard to open and close it. 

And the guy had the gall to say that T owed him yet another 500 pesos on top of the balance still owed. T paid up. He offered to do the bathroom window as well. T said that his work was disappointing and that he wouldn’t get any more work nor recommendations from her. My husband was a little less diplomatic with his thoughts on the workmanship when he saw him.

So the bathroom window, the handle for the zaguán, and the aluminum trim that holds the glass in place will be done by another ferretería (metalworking shop). Meanwhile, my husband is going to add some cement and rebar in order to fix the fitting of the back door.

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What’s going on with you–(Pay)pal?

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At the beginning of September, when I opened my Paypal account to count my pennies, there was a message about some changes that would be coming up on September 25. It seemed a kind of a random date and I didn’t really understand what was going on. I sent an email to Paypal customer service to ask for clarification. This is what I received in return:

PayPal is making some changes to its User Agreement that will be effective as to all Mexican PayPal users as of September 25, 2019. We encourage you to review this Policy Update and familiarize yourself with all the changes that are being made. 

Amendments to the User Agreement

 

  • We are disabling the use of balance and implementing an Automatic Transfer feature to your Designated Bank Account (currency conversion fees may apply).
  • We are modifying the currency conversion fees for sending payments. 
  • We are disabling the Mass Payment/Payouts feature.

 

So on the morning of September 25, I signed in and manually transferred most of my balance to my Capital One 360 bank account, just in case. I then held my breath and crossed my fingers. I checked in again and the wrong bank account was scheduled to receive the automatic balance transfer. So I changed that. And waited. Everything went fine.

The next day I discovered that I couldn’t use Paypal to pay for anything. Prior to these new changes, I could use my balance (which no longer existed) or withdraw funds from my Capital One 360 account for the purchase. Not happening anymore. 

Since I am paid for one of my jobs via Paypal, on Monday of the following week, money went in and then just sat there. It wasn’t automatically transferred. I couldn’t transfer it manually. So now what was going on? I sent another message to Paypal which went unanswered. In the morning, I called them up. 

There was “a usually high number of calls” (at 7 am) but a representative would be right with me. When I did talk to one, I explained my situation. The nice young lady said there was a glitch and the money wasn’t being transferred automatically like it should be. So she told me to go to www.paypal.com/wdfunds and I could transfer from there until this problem was fixed. I did and I could. I asked how long it would be until things were back on track. Maybe this weekend was her reply but not with any real conviction. 

So what’s going on in the banking world here in Mexico? It apparently has something to do with Fintechs and the LEY PARA REGULAR LAS INSTITUCIONES DE TECNOLOGÍA FINANCIERA instituted by former president Peña Nieto in March of 2018. The law is being pushed forward by current president AMLO and includes “electronic payment processors” like Paypal. 

It seems that AMLO has this idea that money laundering is going on through Paypal. With all money being routed directly to Mexican bank accounts, the government will have a better handle on remittances and of course be able to collect taxes on those funds. 

This isn’t the first move in complete governmental control of money in Mexico. In August, AMLO was pushing to make all tolls and gas payable through CoDi (Cobro Digital), a digital payment system controlled directly by the Bank of Mexico. This new method of payment went online just a few days ago.

There are a number of reasons why this move concerns me. In Mexico, only 2 out of 5 Mexicans even have bank accounts. Making gas and other items only available for purchase with a bank card means there will be a flurry of black market items bought, things bought by those who have the bank card who then turn around and sell it for a profit to those who don’t have a bank card. 

Then there’s the fact that in order to access your digital payment platform, you need internet access, something that isn’t reliable at all in Mexico, not even in the capital where CoDi will be enforced in less than a month even among the street cart vendors

And then there is the smartphone needed to scan the barcode to make the purchase. I don’t have a smartphone. My husband doesn’t have a smartphone. My son doesn’t have a smartphone. No one I know has a smartphone. Estimates show only 40% of the entire population of Mexico own smartphones. 

Still, another issue is the overall unreliability of banks and bank technology in Mexico. In August, Banorte, HSBC and Santander customers couldn’t use their cards to make purchases because of some glitch. In May, Monex Casa de Bolsa debunked with millions of dollars, never to be heard from again. In June, Mexico froze bank assets of suspected human traffickers (which in theory sounds good however how easily funds can be seized is astonishing).

So where does that leave us? A cashless society isn’t a feasible option for Mexico and yet it’s moving along at a train wreck waiting to happen pace. So my advice is “Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!”

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Decepticons?

We’ve had our full solar capacity up and running for about a month now. Besides my son accidentally shorting out the fuse one day, everything was going well. Until the controller box melted. 

We hadn’t done anything out of the ordinary when suddenly there was a strong smell of plastic. My son called me downstairs and we sniffed and sniffed, following our noses to the battery setup we have in the garage. 

My son hopped up and turned off the power, but the smell was just as strong. Fortunately, my husband arrived home from work just minutes later and disconnected the panels from the setup.

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To our horror, the controller box warped and melted right before our eyes. Our imagination got the best of us, and we thought for sure some sort of Decepticon would spring from the wall fully formed. 

That didn’t happen. But we were in a pickle. We still had power from the fully charged batteries, but the energy from the panels wasn’t making it to the batteries to recharge them. So we needed a new controller box.

We tried to locate Shaggy, the guy who sold us our first panel, but as usual his business was closed and he didn’t answer his phone. So then we went to another guy that installs solar panels. He wasn’t really helpful. He said he didn’t carry the pieces but he could come out and look at the setup (for a fee). We didn’t need anyone to come and look at it. The melted box was obviously the issue.

We went to another lighting place. Lo and behold, the owner said they did have solar charge controller boxes in stock. However, he couldn’t find them on the shelves. He asked us whether our controller box was the correct voltage for our setup. 

Concerned that we may have added too much with the fourth panel, we decided to check the information on the panels again. Each panel is 8.17 amps and the controller that melted was 40 amps, so theoretically, it should have been fine with four panels. I think maybe we need to add one more battery to the setup, but my husband is poo-pooing that idea. 

By the time this guy “found” the controller he had in stock, my husband had already swung by Shaggy’s business again and was fortunate enough to find him there. Shaggy had a 30 amp controller box in stock. 

My husband bought the new controller box which Shaggy charged $1,200 pesos for. He said the box cost about $30 online which would have made the dollar to pesos conversion about 600 pesos. Talk about price gouging.controller

In the meantime, I ordered a 60 amp charge controller from Amazon for about $30 with shipping. It will be here in a few days. 

For me to work these few days while we wait for the new controller since it’s been delayed in customs, my husband installed the 30 amp controller box after disconnecting the fourth panel, since 30 amps would not be able to handle it. It’s working fine. No household appliances are morphing into Decepticons. And we learned a little more about solar energy setups.

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