How I Spent My Day
Yes, I know that headline reads like a cheesy Xanga/MySpace/MSNGroups entry, but bear with me, as I don't have any intention about telling you about what I ate for breakfast, how I slept, what kind of shampoo I used, how long it took me to get to work, what my kids watched this morning on TV, or any other stupid thing (but if you care: Cinnamon Life, fine, whatever was in the shower, far too long, The Wiggles, and I need to buy new shoes as these things are falling apart). If you want the blog randomness, there's plenty of that locally already. But if you're interested in some Qwest stupidity and tax collection lunacy, read on....
I've been trying for weeks to get our office transferred to a new DSL company. I've had nothing but trouble with my previous provider, who always seemed bothered that I was calling them or if I had technical questions, etc... and it was always a chore to get good answers from them. So I've been on the hunt for a provider for a while, but the problem is that out here in Sunriver, it's a bit of a pain to get DSL. The local cable company is just right across the street but they, as of yet, haven't been able to get me a decent upload connection. They've even offered to hook me right up to their router if I can get fiber to their office, but there's a frickin' road in the way, and I don't know if there's conduit anywhere that I could use. So I'm stuck with DSL.
My previous provider just wasn't there when I needed them, and after talking to a few folks locally and verifying they could get service here, I signed up with BendTel, who said they could get me comparable speeds at much less cost. Since my speeds were already pretty clunky (despite having a solid two-way 1mbs connection), I didn't have much to lose. So last week I fax over the letter of agency agreement (which basically gives BendTel the authority over the phone line I'm transferring to them), and they told me it'd take about a week and they'd give me a call to let me know when they were going to do the install. Great, sounds like a plan.
I walk into the office this morning, and the 'net connection is down. I walk through the usual troubleshooting -- checking the network, rebooting modem, firewall and then router -- nothing works. I call my current provider and they tell me that they got the letter of agency agreement, Qwest made the transfer at 4:00AM this morning, and it was out of their hands (basically, they didn't give a rip what I had to say, as they were losing my business). So I called BendTel, the much nicer folks answering the phone were just as confused as to what the hell happened, but realized the line was now in their hands much sooner than expected (without Qwest telling them). So they busted their butt to round up a modem, get it going with transparent bridging, and get me setup with a line. After a trip into Bend to get the modem (as I had a Qwest-specific modem that I was using before that wasn't working too well), a bit of hacking on my firewall and router to use the dedicated IP address, fixing the DNS on my main server to point to the new IP address, resetting the SMTP server configs on some of the clients here, we were back up and running within a couple hours (most of that was driving into Bend and back). The folks there were really nice, and even offered me some homemade cookies (and I'm a sucker for cookies). So if anybody is looking for connectivity services in the area, give them a jingle. I know Jon has a T1 with them and has had good luck so far, and I know my connection is already zippier at the office here. But anybody has any trouble booking a Sunriver Vacation (yes, that was a cheap Google ranking boost attempt), let me know.
So after that killed off my morning... I had to figure out how to fix the implementation of the new tax rules and regulations that went into affect on October 1st. Now not only do we have to charge the 7% county room tax on rental amounts, but we now have to charge the tax on our the cleaning fees for our homes. Why is the county requiring us to do this? A few reasons:
So basically, after this is all said and done (and we're still working on it, and it's even more of a pain with our crappy DOS-Based software) there are going to be a bunch of little $4-7 charges showing up on people's statements (and it's all itemized in a way that will probably make guests pissy as to why we're nickel-and-diming them, and not much we can do about it.
- Because the cleaning fees are "non-optional fees" so they should be taxed (even though we technically outsource our cleaning to another company that just happens to be in the same building as us).
- So they can get more money out of larger resorts. One of the main reasons this new tax change was done was because larger resorts (whose names will go unmentioned here) were able to get away with not paying as much room tax. How? Because they own a lot of the amenities they provide (like the restaurants, golf courses, clubs, etc...). So, for example, they will provide a special that might read like this: "Two Nights lodging for two people, unlimited golf, $100/night" (or something similar). What they'll do is take $20 and use that as the taxable rental amount, and filter the other $80 to the golf course, so they'll only have to pay tax on the $20. Thanks to those folks doing that kind of crap, it's screwing the rest of us legitimate folks.
- Because they suck (OK, that's not really a reason, but after trying to figure out a way to do this in our reservation system that we can actually track and not totally bulldoze our current reservations has been a chore, that's just the way I feel). But really, why is the county trying to get more tax money out of us and our guests when I could probably find 100 homeowners in Sunriver who rent their homes privately and probably don't pay a dime in room tax? They're still required to, according to tax laws. There are some folks renting some big 6 or 7 bedroom homes out here for nearly a grand a night, and while some of them are probably fine, tax-paying homeowners, I'm sure there are piles that aren't. But I guess instead of going after them, they're going to waste the time of the folks who are law-abiding instead.
So we're in the final stretch of adding all that information to our confirmations, paperwork, etc... . Hopefully we'll be done by tomorrow morning.
And then come January 1st, we have to change things all over again when the state requires 1% tax on our vacation homes (they just required it on our condos before). That'll be an (relatively) easier change, as that was just a fixed percentage applied to everybody. It was the fixed percentage applied to a variable cleaning fee that made things complicated. So that will bring the total up to 14% that guests of ours will have to pay in taxes and fees: 7% to the county, 1% to the state, and then another 6% for local recreation and maintenence fees out of our control.
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I do a lot of tech support during my day job, handling all sorts of random problems. I've posted about various spyware removal jobs I've had to do, along with... (Read More)