Tuesday, 6 March 2018

How do you contact Facebook?

No automatic alt text available.I have no idea how or why, but Facebook has been plundering my PayPal account. Having boosted two Facebook posts (for a small non-commercial local community meeting) for the sum of €20 each, most of which was covered by an initial credit of €40, Facebook suddenly started billing me and PayPal paid up a sum now amounting to €300. I've tried to contact Facebook for the last week, but I'm discovering that isn't as easy as it should be. PayPal recognizes I have disputed three payments and has escalated the disputes to claims, but I have not had a single response from Facebook. 
Mind you, I'm not even sure I have actually reached anyone at Facebook because if you try and report a problem, you don't get to actually get to keep what you wrote and it scrolls off the screen, so you can't screensaver it either. Then at the end, you get greeted by a message thanking me for providing feedback. Then you get pointed to the "Advertiser Support Page" where there is also no option to contact Facebook.

At last, I managed to find a page where I could dispute the payments. Namely this one.    
How does one contact Facebook? And have other people had problems with them stealing money? 😡

(NL: Ik heb rond 8 en 25 februari twee keer bij Facebook een bericht "geboost". (Het ging om twee berichten over een buurt vergadering, dus niets commercieel.) Dat zou elke keer voor maximaal €20 zijn. Dat leek goed te gaan. Op 22/2 kreeg ik een rekening voor €0,92 (!) en op 28/2 zag ik dat ik €7 uitgegeven had en dat ik €1 per dag zou uitgeven. 
Op 26/2 kreeg ik een rekening voor €20. Dat was prima. Maar toen ging het mis. Ook op 26/2 zag ik plotseling rekeningen van €40 en van €207! De eerste werd door PayPal betaald, maar de tweede niet. Ik was geschrokken en blij dat die betaling tegengehouden was en heb onmiddellijk contact gezocht met Facebook en aan PayPal laten weten dat ik bezwaar maakte tegen de rekening voor €40. 
Herhaalde pogingen om met Facebook in contact te komen zijn mislukt. Je kan formulieren invullen online, maar krijg als response alleen "bedankt voor de feedback". Van een echte klachtenprocedure of -mogelijkheid lijkt er geen sprake.
Ik was blij dat de betaling van €207 door PayPal was tegengehouden op 26/2, maar gisteren (zondag 4/3) geschrokken dat de betaling toch via PayPal doorging, ondanks mijn maiberichten aan Facebook en beroep bij PayPal. 
Hoe komt men in contact met Facebook? Hoe kunnen ze bedragen van €300 van mijn PayPal nemen terwijl er een limite van €20 op een boost was?)

Thursday, 1 March 2018

CDA Amsterdam - Leasehold for owner-occupiers

What does Honest Leasehold mean for you?
In June 2017, the ruling coalition in Amsterdam of VVD, D66 and SP agreed on a new leasehold arrangement.
The way in which the dues for your leasehold are now calculated is unjust: Amsterdam is claiming part of your home. That has to stop. And it also provides an online calculator to see what the alternative would mean for you. This text provides further information about leasehold in Amsterdam and our alternative. More and more people are realising that the present arrangement is unreasonable and unjust. After the elections, leasehold is sure to be back on the agenda. Our aim is, once and for all, to create a fair system in Amsterdam.

What is wrong with the present leasehold arrangement?
The present arrangement made by the local coalition of D66/VVD/SP comes down to the municipality taking ownership of part of your residence. At its core is the 'Buurtstraatquote' (BSQ), a percentage of the value of your house of which the municipality says: that is basically the value of the land and  belongs to us. This can amount to as much as 49 percent of the WOZ value. However, this method is completely unjust. It ignores the reality of owning a house: you can’t pick up your house and put it down somewhere else; your house and the land it occupies are inseparable. So you have to bear in mind that the ground is already in use and someone already has an existing contract for it. In addition, the municipality has already been paid in full for the value of the land. That is why the CDA wants to base the calculation on the existing contracts.
The present arrangement is unfair and leads to unreasonably high costs for homeowners. In addition, the present arrangement is completely untenable. After 2019, the costs throughout the city will explode even more dramatically.

What does the CDA want and why is that so reasonable?
The CDA wants an honest leasehold based on existing contracts. By far the most leasehold contracts have already been reviewed. So the value of the ground has been determined. Why should the value of the land be recalculated using expensive, controversial, complex and obscure calculations and charged once again? That is not logical or reasonable. The CDA is of the opinion: if you have already paid the value of the ground, you don’t have to pay it again. If it has been bought off, you’re done.  For once and for all. That’s logical.
In addition, it has to be made much more affordable to buy off the leasehold. Scientific research indicates that the value of the ground under dwellings is about ten percent of the WOZ valuation. The CDA adopts that as the maximum.
Does the council need the income? No. If the new municipal council agrees to the CDA proposal, then the council will not lose any money in the short-term. It just means that in decades to come the council has less additional income. But Amsterdam can cope with that just fine. Nearly all the other municipalities in the Netherlands also manage to function without leasehold. The City of Amsterdam has all kinds of other ways of generating income: tourist tax, its share in Schiphol airport, the Harbour and central government funds, for instance. It is unreasonable and unnecessary to ask a relatively small number of homeowners to pay extra.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Bijeenkomst voor bewoners van Amsterdam (Oud West) over de erfpacht herziening.


Door de erfpachtherziening komt er heel veel op eigenaar/bewoners af. Daarom organiseren wij een

Op dinsdag 6 maart 2018,  inloop vanaf 19 uur, aanvang 19:30 in het

Bellamy Buurt Museum (BBM)
Bellamystraat 378, Amsterdam

Erfpachter als melkkoe van de gemeenteDe bijeenkomst wordt georganiseerd door de initiatiefgroep Erfpacht in West en is gratis. De presentatie wordt verzorgd door Koen de Lange van de SEBA (Stichting Erfpacht Belang Amsterdam). Hij is een expert op het gebied van erfpacht en informeert ons over de laatste ontwikkelingen, Hij zal aan de hand van voorbeelden verschillende situaties bij ons in de buurt aan de orde stellen en laten zien hoe bijvoorbeeld de eigenaar/bewoner met een ongesplitst eigendom en verhuurde etages (sociale huur) ernstig tekort wordt gedaan.

Door de rekenmethode met WOZ en BSQ moeten deze eigenaren in de nabije toekomst een heel hoge last opbrengen. De gemeente doet u nu een aanbod op basis van de verkoopwaarde. Dat is eigenlijk heel raar. Erfpacht zou over de grondwaarde moeten gaan. Dan kom je ook veel lager en eerlijke uit. Ga naar www.eerlijke-erfpacht.nl. Dat is een erfpacht rekentool die wel eerlijk is. Koen de Lange zal hem demonstreren tijdens de bijeenkomst.

Laten we ons voorbereiden en ons laten horen en deze onaangename verrassingen zoveel mogelijk ombuigen. Geef je op voor deze bijeenkomst met een mail aan ErfpachtinWest@gmail.com.

Welkom op dinsdag 6 maart in het Bellamy Buurt Museum, en neem iedereen mee die hier belangstelling voor heeft.

Namens ErfpachtinWest

Martin Cleaver

Sommige mensen kunnen berekenen hoeveel de herziening gaat kosten bij de erfpacht site van de gemeente. Het is aan te raden om een offerte voor de overstap aan te vragen of daar of bij overstaperfpacht@amsterdam.nl.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Amsterdam has a Cycle Mayor?

Amsterdam used to be bicycle capital of the world, but it's had a hard time struggling against scooters. So it was great news last year that, having had a Night Mayor for many years, we were also going to get a Cycle Mayor.

After a glitzy show at Amsterdam's cultural centre De Zwijger, the new mayor Anna Luten got chosen. I'd like to say elected,  but I fear that doesn't quite cover this farce organised by Cycle Space (which does have a glitzy and noisy website, be warned).
Afterwards, as the city struggled to cope with scooters and tourists and massive overcrowding, it would have been great to have regular contributions from Amsterdam's new Cycle Mayor.

Just one problem.  She was completely invisible. Her Facebook page doesn't have a single posting since she became bicycle mayor. There's also been no sign of any interest in the government's Internet consultation about mopeds from her or Cycle Space. In fact all Cycle Space did was mention it once in passing while saying it was an initiative of Holland's Cyclists' Union. Cycle Space may be good at advertising and getting grants, but they're no good when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of policy and campaigning.

The only news we got about her or from was from articles in the foreign press (for instance CityLab and the Guardianwhere she made sure to advertise  her employer: the Japanese bicycle company Giant and its female counterpart Liv, for whom she just happened to be responsible for marketing.

And now she is upping and leaving in order to start up a similar project in New York. I sincerely hope she is being sent by her employer* and not by the city of Amsterdam.

But fortunately she has found  a suitable replacement, Yvonne van Laarhoven. Yvonne is obviously also a cyclist,  but her Facebook tends to suggest she is prouder of her new car, which conveniently comes from a garage that shares her name.  What a coincidence! 

It really is time for a real Cycle Mayor who represents the cyclists of Amsterdam and not commercial interests - be they of the cycle industry or the motor industry!

(And anyway, Amsterdam already has a Cycle Mayor. Completely unofficial but a lot more active than these two ladies.)

* I gather she has now left Giant. (Thanks, 

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Reclaim Bike Paths (Fietspad terug)

Amsterdam was once the cycling capital of the world. It led the way in developing and constructing the best possible infrastructure for cycling. However, it is now losing ground to scooters. An anomaly in Dutch law has made it possible for scooters (not mopeds, and hence with no pedals) to take over Dutch cycle paths.

Cars are no longer a sensible way to move around the city and they drive on average at less than 30 k/hr. In the meantime, scooters that are supposedly limited to 25 k/hr average no less than 40 k/hr. As cars get hemmed in, more and more people are taking to the cycle paths - on bikes but also on scooters. As a result, the more vulnerable cyclists - the aged and the young - are less inclined to ride a bike and that can't be good for our health. Not that cycling in scooter exhaust fumes is very good for you. The situation has reached crisis proportions. As early as 2013, the four major cities in Holland called for measures to remove scooters from cycle paths, but this vital step is no nearer realisation.

Now at last Amsterdam is getting permission to tackle the problem, but only on a piecemeal basis. The government will make it possible to banish scooters from the bike paths, but only in certain circumstances. The city is planning to move scooters off the bike paths, make their riders wear helmets and join cars on the streets, but only on streets with "the busiest cycle paths". This would mean that scooter riders have to wear helmets on some roads and not on others. The result will be chaos and impossible to police.
I live on Bilderdijkstraat. This is one of the busiest cycle streets in Amsterdam, but the cycle path is only 1.80m wide and in some places even only 1.5m. Its status as main cycle route means the cycle path should be at least 2.25m wide. However selectively preventing scooters from using the cycle path here will be difficult and will probably only mean that parallel streets will be used instead. I'm sure that residents of Da Costakade and Bilderdijkkade are not looking forward to even more scooters.

The whole situation only arose because scooter manufacturers and retail outlets exploited an anomaly in Dutch law. Mopeds and scooters with a limiter to stop them travelling at more than 25 k/hr have a blue number-plate and are allowed to use the bike paths and their riders don't wear helmets. Other scooters can drive at 45 k/hr on the road and their riders have to wearing helmets. They have a yellow number plate. However these real scooters are being overtaken in numbers and even in speed by the fake "snor" scooters. A normal 50cc scooter can drive at about 60 k/hr and without a limiter it is far less polluting. The obvious measure is to abolish the blue number plate. I'm convinced that this would also reduce the number of people on scooters. 

The minimum measures necessary to rescue Amsterdam from the current situation is a blanket ban on any motorised scooters on cycle paths in the city. The final aim must be to banish scooters from cycle paths nationwide, abolishing the ridiculous blue number plate.

Make your own contribution to the Internet Consultation.