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Yeah, yeah, I know…

Tuesday, March 28th, 2006

…I get back to my travel journal at some stage. Right now it’s about the last thing on my mind.

The staggering incompetence of Worldnomads Travel Insurance

Tuesday, March 28th, 2006

(Incidentally, names of employees have been removed by request)

I think the following email exchange speaks for itself. Most of the exchange between WN and its unfortunate clients takes place on their website, which seems to be a source of great confusion (why does Denise forward X’s decline letter to my email address now??).

Also bear in mind that this company is based in Australia. They require that I get in touch with them by snail mail both to submit a claim and subsequently take up matters with the Internal Dispute Resolution people. Phoning them to clarify matters isn’t an option.

In the future, I will at least stick to local companies!

The background story has been discussed on the BNA forums and also on LP’s Thorntree. Over 1½ thousand people have viewed these messages. WN has yet to learn anything from that.

My reply:

Further to your message from 27th March; you have attached the decline letter for claim 250053, which refers to my digital camera (separately insured). I subsequently submitted a claim for the backpack and my other belongings, stolen during the same incident, which you closed without comment. These two claims will have to be combined and I await a new reference number for use in my correspondence with IDR.

The original decline letter also refers to an enclosed brochure outlining the IDR process which I have not received. I enquired about this and received the following email on March 7th:

Dear Ms Schnapp,

The information you requested was posted to your home address on the 24th of Feb, please be aware that international mail can take up to 4 weeks to reach its destination,

Kind Regards

Client Services Consultant

Mondial Assistance House
74 High Street, Toowong QLD 4066 Australia
P. 1800 066 896
F. +61 7 3305 7016

I have still not received the information I requested.

Furthermore you have not included an address where to write to or the name of the person who will deal with this matter; which reminds me: why do you keep addressing me as ‘Miss’ and, in the case of X, even sign off with ‘Yours Faithfully’? Do I not have a name?


Oooops, look who’s forgotten to address the lovely Miss Denise in turn! That was entirely unintentional. The rest of the exchange continues with the email I replied to above. The elements of the attached letter of decline which actually refer to WN’s decision are marked in bold:
[read on]

BBC Climate Change Experiment

Thursday, March 16th, 2006

Another hiatus in my SE Asia tales. I have to pick up the thread from the Togean Islands, looking through my (badly) copied journal entries and partly write from memory and because I’m currently editing my NaNoWriMo novel, I can’t get back to it until April—unless I feel like taking a break from talking dinosaurs.

Meanwhile, here’s something completely different:

The BBC and a consortium of scientists, lead by a research group in Oxford, have embarked on the biggest Climate Change Experiment ever undertaken.

Following the example of Seti@Home, the specially customized BOINC software allegedly allows you to run a climate prediction model in its entirety on your PC—in the background.


Every time my ADSL modem hangs up, the model goes into a sulk and re-sets itself to Dec 1st 1920. Given that it is supposed to run until Dec 1st 2080, which would take it until February 2007 (yes, almost a whole year—if it’s runing smoothly), I am not optimistic that it will ever near completion.

I’m not willing to run this machine 24/7 with a permanent internet connection, tear down my security setup or back up the model continuously so that I can restore it. I don’t even have a CD burner. So shoot me.

This is a worthy experiment. It is important. Tens of thousands of data points are needed in order to arrive at a reasonable prediction, because in the end it all comes down to cluster analysis. Every individual PC counts. Together, they are more powerful than any supercomputer.

But count me out. Sorry.

However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t jon in—wherever you are in the world. These days, superfast PCs and always-on internet is common, it’s just not what I have at home. If you do, think about it.