Friday, March 22, 2013

Read this if you want to avoid at least a few misadventures in Indonesia

The first thing to keep in mind is that very few people speak English. Therefore always carry something to write with and something to write on if you want to ascertain, for example, the cost of something.

That is because unwary foreigners are likely to be confused, for example, when Indonesians say "75", whether they really mean "75", or "7500" or "75,000" (BTW, it is most likely the latter).

The second point to keep in mind is that Airport Tax not collected with your payment for your ticket, as it is in Europe or USA. At my Check In desk, after they had checked me in, they indicated through gestures that I had to go to the widow with a yellow box above it - but they didn't explain why I had to do so. On going to the long line at the window and asking several people what it was about, I finally discovered that it was to pay Airport Tax. When I tried to find out how much I had to pay, I was told "75". Now you know what's coming. Yes, I did not have "75" as I had tried to calculate exactly what I needed so I did not have much Indonesian currency on me when I left. I tried to find out if it is possible to pay by card. No, it isn't! And there is no ATM inside the departure lobby! So that meant fighting one's way out of the Departures area through security screening etc, running to the point beyond the Arrivals area where I had noticed that there are ATMs, finding an ATM that's working, running back to Departures, going through Passport Control and Security Check once again, to rejoin the end of the long line at the window with the yellow box above it - only to find that I had the WRONG "75" - no, it wasn't "75". nor was it "7500" but "75,000"... (BTW the window doesn't say "Airport Tax" in any language, it simply has a yellow colour!). Nor is the display saying how much the Airport Tax is at all clearly visible or prominent).

So the third point to keep in mind: If you are flying out of Indonesia, always allow much more than you think you need even if you think you have taken into account everything that could possibly go wrong. That's because the Indonesian public and Indonesian officials are most unsympathetic to stupid foreigners who try to request indulgence to get past queues pleading they're worried they'll miss their flight.

Did I catch the flight? Fortunately, yes... but that was because the flight was delayed, not because the system as a whole is clear or cooperative.

That is perhaps a parable which explains, at least to a certain extent, why Indonesia is still a developing country. Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, March 07, 2013

On Disintermediation, Amazon, and Google

Tobe Freeman, PhD, responds to my article "Life, Work and Careers in the Twenty-First Century" and subsequent discussion of a recent news item regarding the possibility of Google becoming a competitor of Amazone by entering the field of "delivering ordered goods" or "order fulfilment":

"Has some important insights relating to ...disintermediation.... The article points out that Google will host and coordinate third party communities of couriers to perform what the industry calls 'fulfilment': express delivery of products purchased online. This contrasts with Amazon's network of large distribution warehouses.

"Google's model will involve more parties than Amazon's. This community will involve highly coordinated activity between producers, local sellers and google as a marketing and coordination player. More intermediation made possible by cheap, top quality electronic back office infrastructure.

"The use of couriers is also an intermediation step: adding couriers to speed up the 'last mile' rather than using the postal service. The business model is great: subsidy from supplier and a premium paid by the user.

"This is exactly why I believe, despite other evidence to the contrary, that the pendulum is about to swing on 'disintermediation'.

"The weakness of my argument is that it will exclusively apply to premium services. And with rising inequality it is clear that fewer will be able to pay the premium. The last time we had such enormous amounts of cheap labour handling the intermediation of premium services was the 19th century. Marx entered and explained that this was a terrible waste of (human) capital. Industrialisation followed and the rest is history."

Sphere: Related Content