Something we in Northern Europe are not used to (as much as Americans) is questioning a price. We don’t haggle. We don’t expect discounts. And we don’t like to complain (or rather, file for complaints.)
Thus it was an eye-opener to discover that the locals in Maui actively monitor, save, and use the coupons delivered with the free Maui Wrap papers. I’ve learned from locals to go to Costco for bulk discounts, shop at Ross Dress for Less on Tuesdays to get the 10% discount for the over 55’s, use Craigslist, and ask for “kamaaina” rates.
Kama‘aina is a Hawaiian word referring to someone who has lived in Hawaii for a long time. What is long time? I consider myself a resident because I obtained a Hawaiian State Identification Card as soon as I arrived last November and had an address I could call home. By showing that ID, I was waived the tourist fee to visit the Iao Valley and got a discount at the restaurant in the Maui Ocean Centre.
Asking for discounts and kamaaina rates is one way to afford the high cost of living on the island. Another is to complain if you are not getting the right service.
After months of resetting the wireless Internet modem from my home, I finally called Hawaiian Telcom to complain of intermittent Internet access. “I’ve had to reset my modem as many as a dozen times in one hour one February morning,” I said. It got fixed within three days. It was not the modem or the wire or the Vonage phone modem. It was a damaged line outside the apartment complex — and just to my unit only. The engineer said that it was probably faulty before I even moved in last December.
Why hadn’t I reported it sooner? Since December 2010, I had to live with Internet access that was not reliable which meant that I could not make voice over IP (VOIP) calls either. Everything took longer than normal. Telephone conversations got interrupted. I was paying for services ($31 for internet and $15 for VOIP per month) that did not work properly.
It’s not Hawaiian Telcom’s fault. I am simply not used to complaining. When you have conquered all the obstacles to leave your previous existence to get to paradise, how can you possibly complain of unreliable Internet access?