Monday, 2 November 2009


Since I live in Belgium I buy more and more things onlince, and not because of price, but mainly because good service, quality of products and confort. It is my choice.

Consumer choice is being restricted by certain brands that are blocking the sale of legitimate products online. I would like to introduce you the campaign for consumer choice, supported by eBay, to stop unfair anti-internet trade practices.

Why should YOU get involved

Outdated laws are unfairly restricting your right to buy and sell goods freely. Even if you are reselling something you have already bought you could be targeted by brand owners for alleged illegal behaviour. This also impacts small businesses and can result in higher prices for consumers.

Take 60 seconds to watch this video about why you should support this campaign for consumer choice.

Typical welcome in a Brussels bar

In my last four years in Belgium, I think only once the waiter came to me and ask me what I would like to drink in less than a minute!!!!!

Last halloween I went with some friends (yes despite my looks I have friends) to a well-known beer bar at the centre. The room for non-smokers was almost empty, so we sat in two tables.

The owner came after 10 minutes to take the order. We were not fully ready since our discussion was very intentse, so we asked for 5 more minutes. Do you know what he replied??

"Please I need you to make your order now, I have to make business here!!!!"

We were then, completely speechless after such warm welcoming.

Welcome to Service in Brussels I said!

Changing banks is now easier....Can you believe it?

Sun 01/11/2009 - 14:50 From now on it is easier to change banks than it was before. All the customer has to do is go to the new bank and it will arrange everything for the client. One signature is all it takes from now on

Changing banks is now easy in Belgium. The customer just has to ask the new bank they want to use to arrange everything for him or her. The bank accounts will be transferred and payment facilities set up. The new bank also arranges the fixed payments that go out.

The new bank will also arrange the activation of new bank cards, and the deactivation of the former bank's cards.

The entire administrative operation takes a bit of time at the moment. From next year the entire operation should be able to be completed in 8 working days.

quoted from

Wednesday, 28 October 2009


This is so hilarious I let you read the article....
How bad has the Belgacom service must be, that someone goes to that extreme?????
How do you eat that Belgacom?

Oct 20, 2009 -- An American hacker using the name Vendetta claims to have access to all the user names of Belgacom's internet susbcribers, reports

The hacker claims to have exploited a hole in the BBOX modems provided by Belgacom and Dommel for VDSL2 lines. Even if external access to the modems is disabled, the user's password can still be read. The hacker has published some of the user details and has threatened to publish thousands more if Belgacom does not end its restrictions on bandwidth. reports that the security problem has been confirmed by another visitor to the site.


More info in French here

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Pietons traverser par ici

Brussels, rue Montoyer, does it sound familiar??

P.S. Apologies for not being very active in this blog lately. I have to find the time, it is not because I don't have the contents!!!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

The key-copy swindle for expats in Rue du Luxembourg

A friend just arrived in Brussels a few days ago, and rented an apartment close to the European Parliament. He went to make a copy of of his key to Mister Minit in Rue du Luxembourg.

This is a picture of his key:

As you can see a very standard one, rather very common type of key.

Well, he was charged 6.95 eur for one single copy of the key. Can you believe it???

He paid more than double the price normally would cost in other “more reasonable” places. Is it the law of demand-offer???? I don’t think so, it is the law of the opportunism, and ingenuity of new people in the neighbourhood.

The funny think, and I told my friend, is that in Mr. Minit, if you make two copies of the same key, you get one extra for free!!!! ....Hilarioius!!!!

Welcome to Brussels Mr. Minit!!!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Less CO2 = More Euros for ELECTRABEL

GREEN PLUS ("VertPlus") 

  • 100% renewable energy, produced in Belgium. The guarantee that for every kWh of electricity you use, 1 kWh is produced from renewable energies such as sun, wind, water or biomass.
  • Free and exclusive access to personalized services designed to cut your CO2 emissions.


First question I ask myself. Does Electrabel tell me how much CO2 I am producing with my energy consumption????   or how much CO2 will I save????  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPE

Another question: 100% renewable means 100% green????   NOOOOOOOOPE

You probably have already received their season free magazine in your mailbox "Energique". Again, I ask myself, how many tons of CO2 have they produced it to create and bring 4.5millions copies to our homes in Belgium????  They used recycled paper yes, but that does not mean anything when it comes to CO2 emissions. 

OKAY. Less CO2 emissions, but, at what price ELECTRABEL offers this? I honestly admit I am not able to calculate it exactly, but I am estimating it between 20% and 30% more expensive (price per KWh, including everything)

Well you have to read 6 documents in order to really understand it 100%:

  • Fixed price for electricity (only available in Dutch and French)
  • Fixed price for natural gas (only available in Dutch and French)
  • Indexed price for natural gas (only available in Dutch and French)
  • Special conditions (only available in Dutch and French)
  • General conditions (only available in Dutch and French
  • Appendix to the General Conditions in the Walloon Region (only available in Dutch and French) 
  • Appendix to the General Conditions in the Brussels Capital Region (only available inDutch and French)

Quite simple right????   This is because they want to hide the dark side of it.  IT IS MORE EXPENSIVE!!!!!!  So basically what ELECTRABEL is offering is: pay more for the same service, and feel.... better????


Green electricity is produced anyway in this country, and it will be more and more produced in time, whether ELECTRABEL wants it or not. It is not their decision, it is the Government decision. Will you change the world paying more for your energy?? Not with ELECTRABEL. Because they are selling smoke....CO2 smoke. 


It is no wonder why they promote energy savings among its clients in its magazine. They want us to consume less energy, but pay it more expensive!!!!


Besides, the small letter, which you always need to read carefully, says that you need to engage for at least two year period, three year if you live in Brussels. 


Still interested in paying money for nothing in the next three years????




Tuesday, 26 May 2009


Laisez-farie is a term used to describe a policy of allowing events to take their own course. The term is a French phrase literally meaning "let do". In Brussels you have the feeling it is much more that this, it is a stigma in many people. It is a way of life. They just don't care....

They see someone peeing in the metro, they keep walking.
They see some pickpoket in Montgomery....they don't say anything.
They see someone smoking in a public metro station, no one says anything

And the same type of examples apply to many services. You surely can provide more examples than myself. 
But here is a good one I had the oportunity to see last week: Look at the picture an guess...

It is a car upsde down, after an accident, in the middle of the lane that enters in the Shuman tunnels from the Leuven road.  

None of the cars on the right stopped to check, signal the accident (and avoid another one), or just see if they could help.

Is there a better example of this philosopy? (Laissez-faire)

I showed this to a beilgian friend and he was not surprised....he said "people have been educated here not to look to the bad things of is not good catholic eduation to face that, it is better to avoid reality than see its darkness"

I could not belive what he was saying, and I don't see the relationship with religion, however I see the LINKS of this philosopny and service in this city. 

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

One year of life of this blog

One year ago I started my adventure creating

I thought soon I would run out of content and ideas to keep it alive. That is why I made an agenda at the begining. Surprisingly, in one year, I did not have time to write about all topics in my agenda, and I even wrote about many more new topics inspired in my day to day life in this city. 

Thank you to Brussels for giving my so much content to write here and have fun while I kick some ass. Thank you friends and readers who participate with articles, ideas, content, comments, and emails of solidarity. We all love this city, but still, some things need to be pointed out clearly in order to motivate changes and open the eyes of some. 

Thank you everybody.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009


I told you before about what happened with the company of my friend...they did not have internet for two months. 

Well, recently a similar story happened to me, in my place. I moved out to a new appartment and I decided to look for an Internet Service Provider in Brussels. In short, I decided to take a contract with MOBISTAR because basically they had a good offer, and very important, they answered the phone when I called them a couple of times to get extra details about their service. Surprisingly some competitors did not even answer to my calls. 

So far so good. I ordered my internet ADSL, and I received in a few days the modem-router and I just had to plug it, install it and let it run for ever and ever....

Any way, thanks to the BELGACOM REGIME in this country, my internet did not work due to some problem in the line of BELGACOM. Let me explain you this. The government has forced Belgacom to sublet their lines to competitiors in order to allow market competition in the ADSL market. In other words, even though I have a contract with MOBISTAR, actually the line and some part of the cable infrastructure belongs to BELGACOM. So MOBISTAR depends and relies on the diligence of the dictator BELGACOM. 

In real terms this evolved to the game of the chicken and the egg. What was first??

Belgacom said my line was OK and it was a problem with MOBISTAR infrastructure. 
Mobistar said everything on their side was OK and BELGACOM had sompe problems activating my line. And like this during two months until the miracle happened.

Today, my internet works and I am very happy. I dont really know what the real problem was. But I don't care. 

 In favour of BELGACOM I have nothing to say. They came twice and needed a lot of time to solve the problem. 

In favour of MOBISTAR I have something positive to say. Every time I called to the customer service they answered my call relatively quickly at any time, and replied to my questions and requests very politely and efficiently (compared to others). I am very satisfied with MOBISTAR and I am thinking to change my mobile phone contract to them as well. 

Congratulations MOBISTAR. You guys are making possible the opening of the belgian ADSL market. 

Monday, 30 March 2009

Sunday, 29 March 2009


I told you already that normally I walk to my job every day (half an hour walk). I even take my bike sometimes. The main reason is not that I want to make some sport, nor I want to be a "green" environmentally-friendly guy...NO NO NO....the main reason is that I HATE PUBLIC TRANSPORT in peak times.  I refuse to use it, it is worthless. Yet walking or cyclyng can even be more challenging in Brussels, and not because the weather.

Last friday I decided to take my camera and take some pictures of the obstacles I find every day twice. Here are some samples:

End of the shall walk on the stree!!!


which one will it be???? after raining....

Bicycle friendly-environment in the European Quartier

OK....where do I cross the street? who has priority?....mmhh, not clear

More bumps??? nooooo....more stones!!!!

You need bricks at home? ...don't buy them!!! just take them from the street.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009



That is the feeling I have when I enter into a bank in Brussels, that I am being robbed and they dont even welcome you properly.

I will tell you my experience opening a normal savings account in the European area after visiting several different banks. Surprisingly many people I know share the same feeling with me. Maybe I am missing something, but this is what happened to me:(Q1 means question 1 and A1 means reply to question 1 , etc etc)

Q1)  Hello, good morning Madam/Sir, I would like to open an account
Bank1-A1) sorry you need to set an appointment for that, come next week.
Bank2-A1) Yes of course, but let me see if there is someone available to do that with you
Bank3-A1) Where do you work? Where are you form?
Bank3-A1) do you have a belgium working contract? how much is your salary
Bank3-A1) We need ocpies of your work contract, letter from your company, and copy of your flat renting contract.

Bank X...after opening my account
Q2) Can I get a credit card?
A2) yes of course, how much is your salary?....XXXX (nomatterwhatyousay) € ......Do you want a visa gold or normal one?

Q3) When will I have my bankcontact and visa card? 
A3)  in 10 days

after 10 days....
Q4) Hello I come to pick up my visa card
A4) sorry but it was lost and it was resent here, come in a few days

(in some countries you have your credit card ready the next day)

after some days...
Q5) I come to pick up my visa card
A5) Here you are.
Q6) Sorry but my name is not correctly written...
....and on and this, you can spend weeks and months.

For every single thing/service  I have asked, they have made another mistake and taken weeks to solve it. 
That, summarizes my experience with banks. 

After a few months I realized my bank offered a free account (no fees) if you open it online. So I decided to open another account online and close my old one, since I was paying some annual fees for nothing. When I did this, the person in the bank asked me....Why do you want to close the account??? Surreal. 

And that is why I try to avoid visits to the banks. I try to do everything online.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009


When you arrive for the first time at Brussels, you normally look for a place where to live...and of course, one of the first things after that is to get an internet connection at your place.

In Brussels, the first thing you need to know is: which are the ISPs (Internet Service Providers) that provide services where you live. This information is not easy to find, it is not posted anywhere, and depending to whom you ask, and you will get different responses. Ideally, your "Commune" (City Hall) should provide an official list, but it will probably take you a lot of time and hassle to get that through them.

Today I will list some of the ISPs that work in the area of Belgium, but I warn you this is not an extensive list. I will also give you some guidelines and criteria that will help you to choose your ISP.


NUMERICABLE (it was called CODITEL before)

It is important to remark that the mobile phone companies (e.g. BASE or MOBISTAR) are also offering internet access through cable or phone lines.



1) Check out carefully the information on the website. Many providers announce VERY TRIICKY offers online, but you must be very careful. I have witnessed how Belgacom announces one price lower, and then when it comes to registration the price is much higher than the announced!!!! Personally, I mistrust a provider when their website is not clear, tricky, and there is missing information (e.g. download/upload speed of the connection, monthly volume of data, etc.).
2) Call the client service to ask for further details and to compare what it says in the website and the reality. My experience showed me that in the case of Belgacom, I tried to call three times in the same day in order to get extra information about their offer, and every time I called an artificial voice told me I had to wait at least 8 minutes for someone to speak to me. Imagine, if they leave a potential new client 8 minutes waiting, what they will do when you have signed your contract with them??? Will they answer the phone if there is any problem? So, calling them will give you a better idea of how they will treat you later.
3) Try to do a “false” application online before you make the real one. In other words, start the registration process with a false name and address….you will most likely find surprising charges (e.g. activation cost, renting of modem/router, ….etc) coming up, like when you buy a flight with a low-cost company. Besides, you will notice that they will show you the links to the “CONDITIONS OF SERVICE” or any other relevant documents, once you have sent the application to them….oh my friends….TOO LATE TO GET BACK, you already applied for it!!!!! This tells you about the tricky practices they make in order to trick you, or make you pay more. Be careful and read all conditions and details before signing or applying for anything. If you have doubts you can always, try, to call them.

Friday, 30 January 2009


Today I received this from a friend who works in Dublin. 

Ireland is suffering much from this Global Crisis. Some experts forecast (minus) -4% Growth for this year. The issue is that it is a country that is not used to this kind of situation, and a whole generation has known anything but growth and wealth. 

Anyway, this video is dedicated to the Irish Ministry of Transport. But I hope other Minitries learn form it. 

I am seriourly thinking of creating a "home-made" documentary about registration of foreigners in the Schaerbeek Commune, but I need more time for it. 

Enjoy the music!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009


As I said before, I feel so happy that I do not need to take the metro in Brussels to go to work everyday.

Once upon I time....I decided to take it! like today.

This is the picture of the Metro in MONTGOMERY, and I was going towards the centre:
(click on the image to make it bigger)

As you can see above, there were 9 minutes difference between the previous and next metro.


I tried to make a picture of people inside the metro, but I couldn't move, and I almost couldn't breath. I was lucky enough to find a spot and get in. Not everyone could!!!!

In these conditions, how can authorities dare to encourage people to use public transport to go to work!!!!!!

I think that if I had to travel in the metro every day in those conditions I would never pay my tiket.

Below is the picture when I got off, the line in the other sense (outwards from the centre). It looked a bit better with maximum 4 minutes delay between metros.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

CHARLEROI AIRPORT - AĆ©roport de Charleroi Bruxelles - Sud !

Welcome to Brussels South Charleroi Airport.

That is what you read when you arrive for the first time in this small airport located 60km far away from Brussels. This distance can be a small one if we think of big capitals (London, Paris, etc). But in Belgium 60km is a big deal. Actually, if you drive double that distance, you will probably have crossed the whole country.

Being Brussels the Capital of the European Union, you would expect it to have superb connections to its airports. Well, let's be clear. Connections with public transport to the ZAVENTEM Airport are OK; however, connections to Charleroi Airport could not be worse. Only one bus every 45 MINUTES!!!!!.

Despite of the outrageous trip fare (13 euro), the buses sometimes are so full of people that you have to wait the next one, or take a taxi to Charleroi Airport (150 euro approx.) since you have no other choice to get there.

Last month, a friend booked a flight to arrive in Charleroi. His flight was scheduled early in the morning (something like 6:30 am). When the plane arrived to the sky of Belgium, everything looked grey. Yes, grey because of the intense fog that covered the country those days.

The thing is that The Brussels South Airport is not equipped with special anti-fog RADAR systems. In other words. When the weather is foggy, bye bye Charleroi Airport. It is in fact unusable under those weather conditions.

The plane of my friend remained in the sky of Charleroi turning around during almost two hours, waiting for the sky to clear up. Since they were running out of fuel, they were forced to land in the Liege Airport (I call it aerodrome). After that, a Bus took one hour and a half to go there and pick everybody up and bring them to ....Charleroi!!!!!!

I think my friend lost one whole day....he woke up 4:30am to arrive in Brussels at 5:30pm. That was indeed a long day for him.