People that smell the failure

I heard the original line while driving to Los Altos, for the Romanian presidential elections, round one. My wife said it out loud in the car while we were discussing attitudes towards failing and where we had all grown up, back in Eastern Europe, and connected to a message on one of the leading party’s WhatsApp group about a candidate that received over 1.7M votes.

I thought then and there that I wanted to write about the topic, about our shared trauma, as a generation that grew up in fear of this dreaded failure. There’s more to it than that, but not for today.

Today, I was also prompted by something else. Another friend of mine wrote a beautiful post (in Romanian) about admiration and how rare of a muscle this was, and to some extent, still is where we come from.

While I was growing up, I didn’t understand until later that you had to hide any kind of weakness or hint of deviation from the norm. Others did, and the way they did it was directly linked to the ones that didn’t – like me. They learned to see a blush, a tremor in ones voice, a showing of emotion and to turn that against the “perpetrator”, thereby deflecting any attention on their own failures. It’s like they “felt” when someone around them could be perceived as failing and took the opportunity to point the first finger, and so positioning themselves in a safe space, as the accuser, not the accused.

Memories of public micro-moments where I failed, trying to ask girls out, speaking up against bullies, speaking out on topics I enjoyed, playing basketball, and later in work environments, both in companies and as an entrepreneur or consultant, they all share the same thing – one person or, usually, a group of people constantly looking for ways to tell you how you’re failing or you are going to fail.

It’s an incredibly toxic culture that pushes people to close up, create a large wall, a persona to hide behind and only come out when things are “perfect”, or not come out at all because they do not fell “worthy” or “enough” to face the scrutiny of the finger-pointers. This breeds insecurities and the imposter syndrome. This also breeds fake people, that are risk averse to anything that might tear down the wall or pierce the vail.

If I look inside and am very honest with myself, it was less about economic opportunity when I left Romania, it was more about escaping this cultural context where failure was ridiculed and constantly tracked. It still is, and probably will be until enough people speak up and tell those people off.

It’s ok to fail, it’s ok to try and not always win, it’s ok to show that you’re human.

I admire people who start something knowing that it’s highly likely they will fail.

Where I come from, it takes real guts to do that.

What is Libra: a big step towards building the first super-country

I started this though process on Twitter a while ago and an event by Blockchain for Good helped me crystalize the “Facebook as a country” theory.

In an age where “the world’s largest taxi firm, Uber, owns no cars, (…) the world’s most valuable retailer, Alibaba, carries no stock, and the world’s largest accommodation provider, Airbnb, owns no property,” (source) it’s possible to consider a country that has no land.

  • If Facebook were a country, it would be the largest in the world. It now has over 2.4B users and it’s still growing.
  • Once it launched its Marketplace in 2016,  Facebook started having its own economy – and that’s besides the advertising economy it had by selling user data and attention.
  • Facebook has a system of laws and rules, deemed in the terms of service, which get enforced by teams of moderators. It also has a network of robots that evaluate accounts periodically to weed out risky behavior, other bots or spammers.

There was one thing Facebook did not have – a currency – until they came up with Libra and Calibra, the network, basked-backed currency and wallet designed to replace current payment rails and change the financial system as we know it.

They have drawn significant attention and scrutiny from regulators (US, UK, Indian Government, for example), the banking system, and even made Christine Lagarde shrug on camera this summer.

But is this new or revolutionary? By no means. Facebook is drawing from exsiting stuff:

  • Special Drawing Rights by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (1969)
  • The launch of the Euro currency and its success (1999)
  • Visa as a foundation for inter-bank compensation 1958
  • Every other digital wallet out there, including Venmo, Cash App (2009, 2013)

Special Drawing Rights as an inspiration for Libra

Libra will issue a stable coin (a cryptocurrency that does not fluctuate severely) backed by a number of national currencies, to enable stability and interchangeability.

For anyone who knows a little bit about macroeconomy, baskets of currencies are not new. The International Monetary fund created them to support the global credit system and shield it from single country currency risks. The underlying mechanics are simple, weighted pot sums of each participating currency are used to determine the basked currency value at any point in time.

Libra will most likely combine a series of top economies’ currencies with a few top cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and others to determine the price of Libras. Libra will most likely operate outside the traditional banking and national currency sector, given the regulatory issues surrounding its birth. It will be interesting to see what on-ramps will be allowed early on.

Countries and banks don’t like this too much for two reasons:

  1. It takes away their power to control supply and demand for their currency and influence how the economy evolves – see the Eurozone’s issues with Greece, Spain, Italy
  2. It creates a network that can circumvent fees, rules that banking systems and countries set for their citizens, such as capital controls or restrictions, removes the possibility to charge exorbitant fees due to lack of alternatives when dealing in exotic trades and unusual territories

The launch of the Euro currency and its success

I’ve written about this topic before. The Euro and its launch are the original initial coin offering, with countries participating to the biggest artificial coin issue of its time. National banks were required to initially seed, and then exchange their currencies to Euros after a transition period, effectively ascribing value to the new currency. It has been successful thanks to its use inside the system, between citizens, countries, companies, and due the fact that it is mandatory to deal in Euros when dealing with the EU.

Libra learns from this and tries to get many entities involved to seed outside money (the basket of currencies), first in a limited format, with the membership fee – $10M or equivalent. They want as much exchangeability as possible from day one, so that the currency is useful. Having it also used alongside traditional money will create the foundation for “inside the system” transactions to start growing vs money having to constantly go out of the system.

Libra and Facebook will ultimately have to hold a trade balance with the rest of the world, ensuring that there is always enough liquidity of Libras to currencies that are needed to be withdrawn from the system. This is similar to preventing a run on the bank.

If they follow the EU model, they are likely to be successful.

Visa as a foundation for inter-bank compensation

A few months ago, I ordered a book called The Birth of the Chaordic Age, by Dee Hock. For those who don’t know who he is, he created VISA, one of the most impressive and important financial organizations of our time, about 60 years ago. He wrote the book on how the organization was created and his leadership style. It’s a great read.

This is relevant for Libra because VISA, unlike the publicly traded corporation that it is today, started out as a member-owned not-for-profit organization that helped banks settle payments faster than the 6 month process they previously had and reduce fraud that resulted due to ledgers being out of sync for so long. Each member organization had equal rights to vote – decentralization – and had to participate financially to the network to be able to vote – staking. Libra called them network members and has them stake the $10M to both regulate the network and provide liquidity.

The question here for Facebook and Libra is: If this becomes profitable, will you IPO Libra, the same way VISA decided to change from a member-owned not-for-profit to a public corporation?

I’m not saying that’s bad. Dee Hock, on the other hand, is more decisive about the topic than I am – he parted ways with Visa for this reason – he wanted to keep it from becoming a profit-seeking corporation to maintain its mission to open access to financial products for everyone.

Will Libra maintain its mission, or will it turn into Visa 2.0 meets Facebook-style data mining?

Peer to peer and payment functions

Libra claims that the network itself will enable two kinds of wallets – Facebook’s (Calibra), with full identity verification and affiliated with Libra, and more self-sovereign wallets, where if you control your key, you control your Libras, without any identity checks.

The second wallet type is interesting, but likely doomed from birth – most merchants, vendors won’t accept it due to risks. Some will, in the same way they accept cash today.

Calibra, the first wallet, is interesting to mention here because it wants to ultimately connect two things – identity and payment. The most interesting and concerning part about this fact is they want to do it fee free. That means that the users and their data will be the product. If you don’t pay for the service, you’re being offered to someone who does. Fun, right?

And, yes, Calibra will compete with Paypal, Venmo, Cash App, Zelle etc.

The ethics and moral debate on Facebook and Libra

This was the topic of debate when we met in San Francisco, for Libra-themed round table.

This comes at no surprise to anyone who has seen Facebook take off from a college-themed youth social network to the global organization that it is today. It’s over 2.4B strong user base has proven to be not just a tool for people to connect with each other – which is great, but also one of the best cash cows for advertising, a mass surveillance tool for governments and, more recently, a powerful elections / political medium. I’m sure the team behind Facebook never intended for more than the first 2, but as it happens when large groups of people gravitate in one place, so does a proportional level of bad actors (both individual and institutional).

Let’s fast forward a few years into a future where Facebook is successful, and Libra is being used by 3B people globally. We now have not only the biggest social network, but it is now interconnected with the global financial system – showing to whomever wants to see who is paying whom for what and when, further enriching human metadata.

Ethics of good and bad here are debatable and my inner libertarian-leaning self tends to argue that people have the right to choose to use a tool like that, if made available, with reasonable warnings / explanations / disclaimers.

The reason we need these disclaimers / communication pieces inside Facebook and Libra is the two type of users the platform has – unconscious and conscious. The unconscious ones share everything and are easy to profile due to the almost exact resemblance of their online profile to their physical self. The conscious users are engaged in a transaction with Facebook, only sharing that what is useful for them and receiving service as a result. In their case, the online persona can differ significantly from their physical selves.

You might think you are a conscious user and that Facebook doesn’t already have most of your data, but if you think harder, you’ll see that Facebook knows if you changed jobs, bought a house, had a child, got married, divorced, moved to a new city, country, neighborhood, how often you go on vacation and where, what media you follow, what jokes you like, your sexual and social preference, what opinions you share publicly with others, and that’s all just by looking at your usage data – friends, likes, shares, comments, posts, photos (and their EXIF info).

When looking at the bigger picture and what Facebook and similar companies do to our lives, my assessment is net positive. This doesn’t mean everything they do is good, but that for the most part they have made it easier for us to keep up with people in our lives.

Maybe hiring a Director for social good will help with this ethical debate.

Image Credits: Geralt

I want to refocus this blog (again)

You stare at a blank page and you think — this is going to be my capstone, the best piece I have written so far. Then you start putting pressure on yourself to deliver and it becomes a chore, a burden. That dries up your inner writing flow and the blank page stays blank.

I have done that here. I have done that by boxing my writing into certain topics, trying to set fixed expectations when my mind is nothing but fixed. I want to change that now. 

10 years ago, when I first started writing, it was raw, unfiltered, unfettered, and it spoke to a few people. Then it spoke to more and more, soon becoming one of the best professional blogs in my country. 

But I moved to the UK in 2014 and part of me got left behind. I thought I could continue writing the same way, but I failed to recognize the fact that I couldn’t force a flow in a new language, a new industry and a world I had not experienced. 

After all, it took me 22 years to start writing in Romania, so why shouldn’t I expect at least some lead time? It only took me another 5 years to get to a point where I don’t need to box the writing in and let it flow. 

A few months ago, I wrote about how life is an improv game. Mine combines AI, blockchain, brain-computer interfaces, super-countries, social evolution and multiculturalism with a strong liberal flavor. 

If you are reading this and wondering what’s going on, look inside, let got and ride the flow. It will take you where you need to be.

For me, the show is just about to start. Act II. Yes, and…

Photo by Paul Skorupskas on Unsplash

Taxes around the world in 2019

My favorite topic: taxes

Having grown up in Eastern Europe and worked in the UK for 2 years, I know how painful it is to hand over around 50% of your gross monthly proceeds to the government. To add insult to injury, if you are a healthy, upstanding, self-sufficient, net-contributor citizen, you don’t even get to benefit from all those services you pay for every month.

In Romania, it’s easy to overlook all the social security and healthcare taxes, as they are drawn separately from income taxes and corporate taxes. They are, however, the biggest chunk of what the government takes from each salaried employee and every income-making resident. I won’t go into detail about how inefficient the system is with the ~50% they take.

The UK takes about 40% for mid-to-top earners and 45% for top earners. They offer much better services than in Eastern Europe, but the healthcare system has much to be desired, even with all the tax allocations.

The US has a more interesting system, with federal, state and local taxes. Even with all this stack, they don’t even come close to Romania or UK in terms of %. Sure, you pay for private healthcare and there are private schools and other non-state run services you’ll end up accessing. But you do that in Romania and the UK too, if you want top quality care, on top of taxes paid.

Check out this cool infographic and spot the facts that stand out for you. Maybe you can choose a country to live in based on this, or where to incorporate your next startup:

Source: Fortunly

Tweaking the (Un)Fair Isaac and Company score aka FICO

When we first got to the US, we knew that the first thing we had to do is get a credit card and build credit history so we can actually have access to goods and services like real Americans.

This is thanks to the FICO score, a thing developed in 1989, after the FCRA legislation was enacted in the 70s. That’s when Equifax was also born, which later gave way to the biggest identity heist in history, with over half of US residents affected.

What’s this FICO score? It’s what banks, real estate companies, credit card companies and other service providers use to understand if you’re going to pay your bills so they can offer credit of some sort. In principle it’s a good thing, giving access to credit to a broad part of society and allowing everyone to play the game and work towards that dreamy perfect 850 score (which is not worth the effort, by the way, as you’ll do fine with a 780+ score).

Image Source

But coming back to my issue with it, it’s very rewarding to people who were born in the US and have had credit histories their whole lives, granted they have always been on time with payments and disciplined with their finances. Sure, the ones who overextend, miss payments and default will be hit. But the ones who play the game can win at it.

Except for immigrants. 15% of the score is length of credit, so an immigrant who just arrived to the US is already way behind in the credit game. It will take them 5-10 years to get to a point where they can hope at a perfect score. This is because FICO scores +10 years of history as the best category and removes points for anyone who has less than that. This is the unfairness that I mentioned.

It could be fixed easily. By adding the word “proportional” to the way credit history linked to the moment you become a lawful permanent resident or a lawful non-migrant alien is calculated in the FICO score, they could level the playing field and give access to better credit to more people, not rob them by asking for double digit car loan terms or extremely expensive mortgage rates just because they weren’t born here. 

What’s the reason for this absolute anchor? Why having 10+ years of credit is better than having credit 100% of the time you’ve been here? Why 2 years of history is worse than 10 years? Will FICO ever change? 

I have started making the argument that credit bureaus need to rethink their business models. In an era of identity theft, hoarding customer information and selling it is no longer a sustainable business model. I should be able to own my own score, based on my own accounts. It should be in my best interest to add as much information to a secure, local datastore and then selectively share proof of these transactions whenever I need to prove my creditworthiness.

Not the other way around, to have 3rd parties store my data and share my information freely with lenders so they can advertise all those loans in my mail.

It’s time for credit scores to change. 

The conservative and progressive irony of liberals and republicans

Thinking about AI, progress, innovation and pro-business can only lead me to think about politics. Since I’ve been in the US for a while now, I’ve started to spot some interesting anomalies, contradictions in the way the two dominating ideologies tend to behave conservatively or progressively.

Why does this matter? It’s all about double standards and the idiosyncrasies that people are so comfortable living with. Harari makes it his mission in Sapiens and Homo Deus to reflect on and uncover the vast array of contradictions our society deals with every day. You might think this is a new problem, but It’s not. It’s as old as religion, the main source of contradictions – like thou shall not kill, unless they are an infidel. You get the point.

Let’s start with Phoebe, who’s a dedicated, lifelong liberal. She lives in California, works in tech, and spends her free time hiking, doing yoga and going out to brunch. Pretty familiar, no? While she values progress, at least at declarative level, she opposes change in her neighborhood, wants to regulate everything that may impact any people negatively (which, by the way, is almost everything people do out there), but claims that protects freedoms and is progressive. Progress in her mind is to protect and conserve the status quo of any kind, while slowly innovating within a government set box. She doesn’t know it, but she’s conservative.

What about Lindsey? She’s a dedicated, lifelong republican. She lives in Louisiana, works in the insurance business, spends her free time at the local social club, watches TV, likes to drive to malls and organizes regular barbecues. Also familiar, no? While she’s very conservative, at least at declarative level, she’s pro business, wants less regulations and more individual freedom for people to do whatever they want within reason and without harming others. Conservatism in her mind goes back to the constitutional rights that were put in place by the founding fathers, while everyone today can do pretty much what they like and try to find new ways to create value, without the government dictating what people can or can’t do in their communities. She doesn’t know it, but she’s liberal.

This is the main source of contradiction in the American culture today, as both Phoebe and Lindsey want the same thing, to live the best life they can with their families, their friends and within their community. They can’t seem to see eye to eye on most things because they don’t know they share a lot of things, much more than what sets the apart. So if both of them are both liberal and conservative at the same time, it is actually easy for them to connect, if they set aside the outrage TV and politicians instill in both, setting them up to hate each other. 

This time I have no solution for this, other than making people more aware that they are not so different from their political counterparts. Food for thought for 2020.

Image Credits

Surviving as an AI in the US – the most litigious nation in the world

In the past few years, AI advancements have made self driving cars mare of a reality than the remote possibility it once was. Thanks to GPU advances, algorithm improvements and lots of venture capital thrown at the problem, Waymo was the first company to release its fleet (albeit in a very limited fashion) in Phoenix, AZ.

Source

I was talking to my real estate agent there about this amazing feat, when he raised a very good point – how can companies that develop self-driving cars protect themselves from class-action lawsuits brought about by ethical dilemmas like the one where AIs have to choose to kill the driver over an oncoming car or a grandma over a baby. This is a delicate problem even for people, as we’ve seen in recent studies, where each culture determining the statistic outcome. 

We can’t decide for ourselves, so it’s unlikely we can ask the AI to do that too and make it acceptable for all cultures, with a blanket procedure. 

Here’s an example:

A self-driving car encounters a speeding human driver on the other side of the road swerving out of control. It evaluates the problem and sees that it has two options: it hits the other vehicle and throws it off a cliff, killing the other driver and its potential passengers OR it swerves out of the road and into the canyon, killing its own passengers. Regardless of what it does, the AI will kill someone. This, in the US and other jurisdictions, will likely cause the company operating the AI fleet to be sued and held responsible globally for an isolated incident that they couldn’t control anyway. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of other self-driving cars operate normally.

This kind of blanket approach will likely cripple adoption and innovation at scale, due to the highly risky nature of driving today. Yes, you are far more likely to die in a car crash than with any other means of transportation known to man.

So could be a solution here? Treat AIs like franchises, once trained. Companies like Google, Uber, Lyft, Tesla and others could treat each AI, once trained, as independent entity, under a micro LLC, where the liability of that AI is limited to a number and to certain recourse. Whomever owns/operates it carries part of the liability, as to maintenance, configuration, potential fallback mechanisms, so that if an accident were to happen in Astoria, NY, it wouldn’t affect cars in Sacramento, CA. 

Right now, car companies don’t carry all the liability for their products, as long as they operate within expected parameters, as the decisions are made always by humans at the wheel. What if you could configure your AI when you buy the car to kill the grandma over the baby or protect the passengers over the other car? Then you would effectively release the AI and its parent of that liability and enable more innovation to be adopted faster. 

I viewed 22 houses in 3 days in Arizona. Here’s what I learned

This past few days I flew all the way to Phoenix, Arizona, to check out some property there. But you live in San Francisc, you may legitimately object. The housing market in the Bay Area is so bad that even people like me, who work in tech, unless they have been at it for a very long time, have very little chance to grab a decent property even remotely close to the city.

So we’ve started looking elsewhere. 

Phoenix, AZ, is that kind of place that people rarely consider for anything other than Grand Canyon trips or retirement thanks to the weather. That makes it affordable for people that work on the West Coast and that’s what drew my attention, too. 

That being said, I set a target of 3BR/2BATH, with a 2 car garage and got in touch with my agent Matt to schedule 20+ houses over the course of 2 and a half days. We saw all but one of them and learned a ton about what I want from a house:

  1. Houses older than me are probably not a good idea, unless they have been recently and heavily renovated
  2. If the photos look meh, then the house probably is worse, especially if there has been significant effort to photoshop the pics
  3. If there are lots of lighting units in the photos and it’s day outside, then place is a dark cave
  4. 2 car garage can mean 1.5 car because of cabinets or just a very narrow garage layout
  5. Carport means driveway, usually, unless they say covered
  6. Needs work, partially renovated means old stuff still in place because they work
  7. Let your imagination run wild with the back yard usually means it’s pretty big and unkept due to that reason
  8. Recently renovated properties need to be inspected very carefully, as sometimes they get a coat of paint, often in a rush
  9. Always check for cracks, walled in former doors, water damage on ceilings and walls. Every paint splash or change has a little story worth hearing
  10. Read the CC&R of the HOA – rules that you’ll have to follow if you buy within a home owner association area; can’t get out of those unless you run for and get elected on the board
  11. If you see old wallpaper, it probably will smell bad
  12. Some people like to keep their General Electric original 1977 stoves and that’s ok. Good for them
  13. Newly renovated kitchens must be checked for alignment on the cabinets – that crooked cabinet with the crooked microwave will be very expensive to change
  14. Check the tubs in the bathrooms for wear and tear – you’ll use that in the negotiation process. A resurface can set you back $500-$600
  15. The best way to see a house is with furniture in it. Empty places feel out of proportion and a room that seems odd when empty can be turned into a very nice living space with the right furniture

My thoughts on Initiative Q, the non-crypto controversial currency project

Some of you already know about this potential new Bitcoin or so-called pyramid scheme that others warn about, called Initiative Q, started by ex-Paypal people. 

For those who don’t here’s the rundown:

Initiative Q is an attempt by ex-PayPal guys to create a new payment system instead of credit cards that were designed in the 1950s. The system uses its own currency, the Q, and to get people to start using the system once it’s ready they are allocating Qs for free to people that sign up now (the amount drops as more people join – so better to join early). Signing up is free and they only ask for your name and an email address. There’s nothing to lose but if this payment system becomes a world leading payment method your Qs can be worth a lot. If you missed getting bitcoin seven years ago, you wouldn’t want to miss this.

Here is my invite link: Initiative Q Invites

This is what they give you when you sign up and can share invites. It’s the only way to get in the network and earn so Qs. Btw, if the link still works, I still have invites.

The essence of what the suspicious ones don’t understand is that the value will come from Q being gradually accepted as a better currency, not via people putting their own money into the network, like in an actual Ponzi, like Bitconnect.

The data you share is not that useful either, for any nefarious purposes, as an email is only good for spammers and today worth close to nothing. At scale, they could make a few hundred dollars from millions of users, but what would be the point? Oh, they may ask us to do KYC at some point? Sure, but by then they would have something to show for, otherwise this whole thing will crumble.

The monetary policy is also interesting: Qs will be released gradually, so only 1% can be spent at first, so users don’t dump the Qs and walk away. They’re protecting against dumpers. 

I’m also curious to learn more about the independent monetary committee, appointed via voting by all stakeholders in the Q payment network, that will control Q. Sounds like how Visa was founded, as a member-owned, non-stock for profit corporation.

People who call this the next Bitcoin clearly don’t understand either one or the other. Initiative Q, if successful, will be like a stable coin, where medium of exchange is promoted exclusively at the expense of any store of value.

What concerns me is its anchoring to the US economy exclusively, whereas there would be an opportunity to create a global stablecoin connected to several proportionally relevant economies where the Qs would be used. That would make more sense and would remove Qs dependency on the FED, for example, and its monetary policies.

Another concern is about who will put the first external money in. My hope is that they will raise venture capital and use that to provide early liquidity in the system, not take money from the average Joe or Jane. 

I’m sure a lot of these questions can be answered while they make their way to critical mass. $1 is probably the most valuable peg today, so it was a good choice to start with.

There’s a great response to a lot of the questions everyone is asking, and it’s coming from one of the team members, after this guy wrote a long and popular article questioning the model. Check out the first comment. Also one Q’s founders responded here.

What’s missing from Ebay Argos drop-off in the UK

Ebaynorthsanjose

I recently sold something via eBay and had to deliver it to Glasgow. It was a rather large package so regular post would have costed me in the range of double digits. That’s why I chose the eBay drop-off service via Argos, which I though would ease the process and make it cheaper. How wrong I was, you’ll soon find out. There are three episodes to this, all proving that the drop-off system needs a lot more work – both on communications & on operations.

Sunday

As I said, it was a rather large package, so I spent the morning searching for something to use as packaging, as the eBay section did say that I have to do it on my own. Argos does not provide packaging, nor do they sell it, which is poor judgement, from my point of view. Anyway, I went out to ship it via the Old Street Argos, most convenient option for me, and, when I got there, the lady at the counter did not only charge me before checking if the package can be accepted, but then refused to offer me a solution other than a refund and instructions to go to the post office to get “proper packaging”. When I asked what that was and how should I have known what “proper packaging” is, she called the manager who simply said: The eBay pickup guy will not take it. She also quoted me, charged and refunded me for a “medium package”, a thing that would alter my decision making process.

Tried to get packaging at Ryman, but they only had it with the DHL delivery, which was quoted at £17, an amount I would regret to not have take later on.

Time wasted: 2 hours
Money wasted: £5 for getting there and back

Monday

On Monday, I went to the post office and got “proper packaging” for £4. Okay, over my budget, but that’s a learning point. Tried to deliver it directly via the post, but they would have charged me £16 on top of the £4 already paid. SO I decided to go to Argos at Old Street once again. Big mistake. This time the machine was not working and there was no one to fix it at the time I went to drop off the package, so I went home.

Time wasted: 30 minutes
Money wasted: £2.5 for the extra trip

Tuesday

Finally, on Tuesday morning, I decided to change the Argos and went for the one in Camden Town. Even though the other Argos had quoted and charged me for the “medium package”, this Argos rep decided that my package is actually large, so I had to pay £2 extra for the delivery. What’s more, even though the store opens at 9am, there were people standing outside of the store up to 15 past, since they were waiting for someone to open the door. And I’m not even going to mention how long it took me to wait for the package to be handled.

Time wasted: 30 minutes
Money wasted: £2.5 for the trip, £2 for the extra charge

All in all, eBay drop-off seemed like a good idea, but it’s so poorly designed and executed that it took me three days, more money and many hours wasted, whereas I could have just sent it via Ryman’s DHL, that included packaging with £17. It wasted me a total of £12 and 4 hours, plus the frustration. Good job Argos & eBay.

Image source: Wikipedia