Hey, I’m just an Aussie bloke who reckons we’ve got it pretty good here in the land down under – and I’m also pretty bloody lucky, I get to travel to all parts of the world. Sure I get home sick, but it’s not just family I miss – it’s the Australian way I miss, and for the most part I reckon countries like America could learn a lot from how great this place is.
In January, I made my annual trip to the USA for the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Over the eleven days we were in town I noticed a lot of little things that are just a touch backwards, or behind the times – and in a world where Donald Trump is the President of the United States of America I’m sure he’d appreciate all the input he can get to help Make America Great Again.
This may be unique to those pesky tourists that travel your great land, but perhaps just once someone who owns or runs a petrol station in America could try to pay for petrol at the pump with an overseas credit card. You see in America you’re required to pre-pay for petrol. Clearly crime is so bad that they don’t trust anyone, so you have to swipe a card and enter your Zip code to pre-pay.
Sadly, it’s never worked for me. Ever. 90210 doesn’t cut it either. So you need to go into the store, pre-pay with your card or cash, have the debate with the attendant about how much you want to pre-pay (not knowing for a second how much it’s going to cost for your tank) then go out and fill up, then come back and complete the transaction.
Crazy times. I’m pretty sure it’s a computer programming issue for the financial institutions who run the pump payment machines, so come on folks, get it together.
For the record to our American visitors in Australia, we’re pretty trusting, so just fill ‘er up and pay when you’re done here.
Perhaps directly relevant to my last point, but wow, you folks are way behind the times here. I was told once that Australia has the highest per-capita adoption of tap-and-go payments anywhere in the world. That’s never more evident when an Aussie visits the USA.
Pay for Petrol – swipe your card. Pay for clothes, Swipe your card. Pay for coffee, Swipe your card. Pay for anything swipe your card.
In some instances, I was asked to insert my card – oooh, fancy, using the CHIP! Security 101!.
But asking for my ID every time? Making me sign a printed receipt most times? Signing on a screen?
Come on folks, we’ve moved on – years ago. TAP AND GO. Once you visit the US and use your card to pay for stuff you realise why announcing Apple Pay was like announcing the second coming – yet it’s still almost no-where to be seen.
Visit Australia folks, we’re tapping and going all over the shop – skimmers and scammers must be having a field day in the USA.
Finally, while we’re at it with payments, who are you kidding with the paper money? All the talk of the “colour of money” and your money all looks the same, same shape, same size, same colour, different numbers. Australia isn’t Robinson Crusoe on the use of colours, and plastic. It’s all round the world. Catch up USA.
Road Safety & Speed
We did a lot of driving. A couple of thousand k’s in fact. What we noticed on the open roads, the highways and the inner-city freeways was the disregard the American motorists had for the speed limit. We’d have people fly past us on the freeway, only to notice we in fact were going over the limit ourselves.
Driving back to LA from Vegas we got talking about this, and in a time when our own Australian road-toll was looking bad, worse than in many previous years, how did we stack up against the USA?
Turns out, in Australia, our road toll rate is some 5.4 deaths per 100,000 people. In the USA that figure is much higher at 10.6 deaths per 100,000. And it’s not like that’s common among developed nations either. Frightening stuff.
We didn’t see any accidents thankfully, but given the speed on the roads, we’re left wondering if American’s should all just slow down, ease off – arrive alive folks.
Now I get that this is controversial, and the least likely to change. You can’t just suddenly pay everyone 10-15% more in their base wage to abolish something like tipping. Tipping is a culture, it’s meant to ensure great service and reward for it.
But that’s just not what I see. For a start, idiot tourists like us simply forget to tip some times, even when the service is great.
Then at other times you have arrogant fools nudge you to tell you to tip – despite the fact the service was rude and anything but good. If you’re going to have tipping, make it reward based, and not compulsory.
Some of the companies I booked with had the “Gratuity included” which for my mind is the smartest approach – in particular for tourist facing organisations.
America, you’re famous for big portions, it’s generous, it encourages over-eating and insane weight gain. When it comes to burgers and steak, we’re all for it. When it comes to coffee where did you learn to produce this beverage?
A double shot macchiato in the US (two espresso shots with a dash of milk/froth) somehow comes in a tall cup with more liquid than a can of coke. Ordering an espresso which is a super small shot of coffee appears as a long black. Also, don’t get Geoff started on the affogato issue we had, in an Italian restaurant
The coffee itself though, forgetting about size, is 90% terrible. Watery and burned. Is it a staff issue? A machine issue? We don’t know, but ultimately we think it is a training/lack of knowledge issue. Your Starbucks stores always have queues so clearly the locals like it. But it isn’t real coffee, it is unlike anything found in Europe or Australia. There are exceptions, Geoff was happy that in LA notably Blue Bottle Coffee is exceptional
I could hand over here to Aussie comic Jim Jefferies who’s “bit” on US Gun Laws goes viral every time the US has a shooting tragedy. But let me keep it real simple. You’re selling guns in Walmart. Come on folks. Right next to kids sporting equipment? That’s just crazy.
We watched as a woman handed over her ID and other required documents to apply to buy a gun at Walmart, and her kids as they walked away asked with glee “did we get the gun mummy?” – that’s just crazy folks. Crazy.
So look this may not all happen overnight, but I reckon you’ve got a good shot at making America Great Again with these first simple steps.
Just an observation:)
There’s plenty of things to like about the USA too – we’ll have a think and come back to you on that one:)
Trev is a Technology Commentator, Dad, Speaker and Rev Head.
He produces and hosts two popular podcasts, EFTM and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He also appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the resident Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show each day and appears regularly on A Current Affair.
Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave.