Categories
Business

Don’t buy a house on the beach in Greece after the 20th of August

If you think Greece has made progress in the past three years, you really should tell me how you get informed.  I need that sort of optimism and selective perception.  I live in Greece and I breathe with Greek businesses of all sizes, shapes and forms.  Things are much much worse than they were when we started these bailouts.

Corruption is not only endemic but in our face.  That is something not measured in the international lists of corrupt countries but it matters.  The rule of law is a joke when you combine corruption with delays in decisions.  Greek courts can ruin any business endeavor.  They do.  Every day.  The so called “ease of doing business” indicator hasn’t moved much.  But companies have!  Bulgaria, Cyprus or even Brexiting UK are preferred by Greeks starting a new business.  Tax regulations change all the time.  They even applied additional taxes retrospectively which is possibly a world first.  Greece has signed up to surpluses so ridiculous that taxing anything that moves, anything that doesn’t move and anyone even looking at the scene, is the only way to conform to the demands.

The population of Greece has been babyfed government handouts for many decades.   They pay those ridiculous taxes because they still have money stashed in various guides.  The young people that don’t leave the country are the ones hoping for a job in the public sector.   So we are left with the worse kind of employee.  Unless you are a tech start up that can get by with a few bright minds, you are likely to come out of job interviews wondering what the hell these kids are thinking; demanding high salaries but not willing to put in the effort or show any kind of flexibility.  Don’t be harsh on them.  They grew up in houses with two parents living comfortably from the public sector, essentially not working.  Whatever you offer them can never be as good as that!

We have one of the worse governments on the planet.  Pretty sweeping statement but I can back it up.  They sign laws to appease our debtors but these laws are not enforced.  Worse still, and the reason I claim the world title so easily, is the amazing way they use a pseudo ideological way to dismantle anything good, decent or productive in Greece.  You can’t call them “common thieves” because thieves are not so ignorant, nor so bold.  They haven’t even managed to proceed with obvious and easy privatizations, partly because of these schizophrenic pseudo ideological concerns.  You know this is investment hell when they can’t even sell off prime beach real estate (Asteras Vouliagmenis) or develop an ideal part of the city.  (Ellinikon)

Our infrastructure is pathetic.  Yes I know the roads are better than they are in Nigeria and we have a fairly stable electricity supply.  But as has been proved time and time again by our current government, they cannot reach agreements on major issues like privatizing the grid.  They can’t control labor unions which strike because they demand the right to continue destroying the environment with lignite abuse.  So our infrastructure was OK but whether it will be able to ever get to any next phase of development is doubtful.

Probably the best place to witness all the above problems together is tourism. That great hope. Probably what you thought of when you read the title. “Invest in Greece: get a house on the beach”. Sure, after you deal with the corruption, the spoilt locals, the crazy government and the lack of infrastructure.  All sorts of people will be asking for bribes or giving bribes on your behalf to speed up proceedings. Then you will discover that the neighbor built something right in front of your house, or cut off your way to the beach and there is nothing you can do about it. Then the government will impose yet another tax on your property, a tax you have to pay every year on top of the tax you paid when you bought it. Then you will wait for a decent internet connection, sort of get it, then it will be down again.

 

I don’t think you would spend even a small amount on buying a house on the beach if you looked carefully enough.  So who the hell is stupid enough to make a real investment in Greece?

 

 

Categories
Business Communication

Mastercard hits rock bottom in advertising

The poster in the Athens metro featured a young man next to a swimming pool at Santorini.

“Waking up in the sky: Priceless 
With your MasterCard you are welcome all
in resorts, hotels, villas and spas.”

Oh really?  Welcome are you?  Whoever wrote that hasn’t travelled much in Greece, have they?  Sure, major hotels and fancy spas in major tourist locations might accept Mastercard. But that is the tip of the iceberg of course.  Most rooms to let don’t have any way to accept a Mastercard.  At best they might take you down to the tourist shop, charge the card and get cash from their friend there.  (I have done this!)  But wait, another ad:

“With your Mastercard you are welcome all over Greece, in supermarkets, fruit markets and grocery stores.”

Yeah right!  Outside of major cities and big supermarkets, if you try showing a credit card in a “fruit market” everyone will laugh at you of course.   And any small “grocery store” on an island is more likely to accept your jewellery as payment than a Mastercard!

I tried hard to think what else Mastercard might want to achieve.  Maybe they want to pressure store owners to install credit card machines.   So advertising in the summer when everyone involved in tourism isn’t in Athens to see their campaign makes loads of sense….not!   Maybe they will just run it for a couple of weeks, take pictures and then tell everybody that they did it, see if that impresses them!

Coming face-to-face with
your schoolbook pictures: Priceless®
With your MasterCard, you are welcome all over Greece,
in museums and galleries

This one cracked me up.  If I had a pen with me I would have added “if the museum is not on strike, or the keeper hasn’t left early that day, or it isn’t some weird holiday you have never heard of, or it isn’t one of those little museums with just one guard and no electricity or internet connection which doesn’t accept credit cards….”   The picture of a statue was also really weird, some angle which felt distinctly uncomfortable.  Surely not an image any one found in “schoolbook pictures”!

But the fourth advert of the series in the metro was probably the best:

Forgetting to update your status: Priceless
With your MasterCard you are welcome all over Greece
in bars, night clubs and discos

This whole campaign is some sort of weird fiction.  As if some exec in the US dreamed up a campaign in ten minutes projecting a long term goal from one of his powerpoint presentations.   It is in many ways like holding up a “everything that is wrong with Greek tourism” summary in four advertisements.   In an upside down world maybe you can go to a noisy bar and pull out a Mastercard to pay for your drink.   But surely not in Greece!

Oh, and it is impossible not to “update your status” because all the Greeks do at the club is play with their cell phones…