Everybody hates moving. I don’t care how inherently nomadic you think you are, or how far you are going. Believe me, I know. I’ve moved boxes from one end of this province to another, as well as from apartment #411 to #412. The bottom line is this: getting your stuff from where it is to where it will be is always a royal pain in the ass. The key to making it a painless move is in simply realizing that there is no such thing as a painless move. You have to embrace the sheer misery of the experience and anticipate an endless shower of annoyances and unexpected surprises.

Yes – I’m bitter. I’m bitter and grouchy and jaded because I’ve lived this nightmare more times than I care to discuss. I have to admit, however, that as far as nightmares go, the move to Stephenson Ave. was a relatively entertaining one. You have to see the humour in a situation that involves collapsing floors, flooded basements, and hidden stashes of used syringes all within the first 100 hours. In addition to these little surprises, I’m amazed by how much useless junk we seem to have amassed over time. I’m sure that if I take the total amount of crap we have and divide it by the short time in which it took to accumulate, I would get a rate of acquisition that would embarrass Ivana Trump. But I digress. Where was I? Oh yes – bitter and grouchy and jaded. But this time my gloom wasn’t caused by the move itself – the entertainment factor kind of balanced that out and we actually had a great moving company. My anger and frustration comes from a parasitic little bloodsucker that sniffs around every Moving Day like a hungry rat. Its name is “SETUP FEE”.

Now, I know that moving costs money, and I have no problem handing over a thousand bucks to guys who are lugging around my TV, sofas, and piano. What I do have a problem with are utility companies – already severely bloated with red tape – whose computers automatically charge you for changing your address. There is no better way to further aggravate an already volatile Moving Day victim than by receiving a bill and realizing that they’ve incurred additional charges merely by changing postal codes. Let me give you some examples:

Bell Canada – $30.00

Toronto Hydro – $25.00

Enbridge Consumers Gas – $25.00

Rogers Cable – $89.00 (TV and Internet Services)

These charges appear innocuously under the cloak of ‘administration” or ‘reconnection’ fees. Right. Somebody tapped a few computer keys and clicked a mouse and I was reconnected and administered. Thirty bucks please. Give me a freaking break. At least buy me lunch before you bend me over and shove your greed up my tushy.

I’m not a moron. I know when I’m getting screwed, and it ain’t gonna happen without my permission. So I called up each one of the companies and asked for an explanation. Each time I got the company line… “ Sorry, sir, but these changes require administration, so blahblahblahahhahhah…” or “ we had to send someone out to your house to turn on the service yaddayaddayaddaddaddaddaddadd….”. So I let every one of them know that as far as I was concerned, if I’m willing to pay them $1000 a year for their services, the least they could do is push a few papers around to accommodate me.

But, alas, this lesson in Customer Service 101 is wasted on the person answering the phones – the logic seems to confuse them. So I’m forced to translate into a language they can understand – idle threats. These usually consist of “ If you don’t remove this charge you’ll never see me again…” ultimatums. They work great with cable and phone companies because there are alternatives out there for you to choose from, so they have to take action whether you intend to carry out on the threat or not. Sadly, they don’t work with hydro or gas because these sniveling cartels are fully aware that you need them more than they need you. That is, of course, unless you’re ready to build a power station in your bathtub or set your living room on fire. It’s not funny. I actually considered these options. I really hate monopolies.

Anyway, I eventually was appeased by an assortment of discounts, incentives, and freebies, which is better than a kick in the head. However, I couldn’t weasel my way out of the Mother of all setup fees: the Land Transfer Tax. This one’s a real hoot. If you look it up in the city’s Taxation Schedule, you’ll find the following definition:

“LAND TRANSFER TAX – a percentage of the total purchase price of a residential home levied against the purchaser for no good reason other than they are already handing out money left, right, and center to everyone else so we might as well stick our hand out too.”

Maybe it’s better just to join in the fun. Starting today, anyone I know who decides to move will face a surcharge for changing his or her phone number in my Speed Dial.

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