As we enter our third week of Kiwi life the thing I’ve begun to appreciate about America now that I am outside of it is how everything there is convenient.
The first thing I noticed were credit card fees. I’m not generally one to use my card for casual, daily expenses, but it was a necessity here before we got our bank cards set up. I quickly discovered that it’s common for many places to tack on a convenience fee of at least 2% to a credit purchase – and, for small purchases it might be an automatic 30-40 cents. These fees are almost universally absorbed by the store in the US.
You might be thinking, “2% – what’s the big deal!” Except, are you the sort of person who puts big purchases on your credit card purely for the points or miles, only to immediately pay it off?
Suddenly you’re paying a $20 premium for every $1,000 you pass through your card that way. $20 isn’t nothing, and if you’ve got to buy a whole new set of appliances because rental properties don’t come with them, it’s several multiples of $20.
Yes, you heard me right: rental homes don’t come with the major appliances here. No washer, dryer, or refrigerator – which are collectively known as “whiteware.”
I still haven’t heard the full history of why this is the case. It seems utterly mad to me, because as a renter you are suddenly responsible for a few thousand dollars of appliances over their lifespan of a decade or more, and if you switch homes a few times there is no guarantee they’ll fit into each subsequent house!
That’s specifically the case with dryers, which just aren’t very common in New Zealand. We’ve seen tons of places that don’t even have a spot for one, and even if they do there’s no ductwork for venting. If you want a dryer in those houses, you have to buy a super-special, super-expensive “condenser” style dryers that suck the water out of your clothes just like Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru’s farm.
The majority of people here line dry their clothes. We went on a walk to the zoo yesterday while the weather was nice and nearly every house we passed on the way had clothes hanging out on a line or a rack! [Read more…] about convenience fees