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A couple of weeks ago, you probably heard about the bushfires here in Victoria.  The big fire in the Bunyip State Park was pretty close, with plenty of smoke being blown across our house in Pakenham.  However, it was even closer to our family in Garfield and Drouin, who where told to evacuate.  We had a full house that weekend, as we accommodated an extra 4 adults, 2 kids, 2 dogs and 2 cats.

Thankfully our family was ok and didn’t suffer any property loss, except for ash covering everything when they returned.  Unfortunately some people weren’t so lucky, there were lots of properties and livestock lost to the fire.

Over in Churchill, my parents were affected by smoke from the nearby Yinnar South bushfire.  Churchill was on a “watch and act” alert, meaning they had to be ready to evacuate, but thankfully that wasn’t necessary.

I made a short video for my YouTube channel to show the smoke coming over our house, as I played ball with one of the evacuated dogs.  I also recommend another video from a YouTuber based in Warragul.  Hayden Pederson showed how fierce the fires were, and the devastation of a friend of his who lost everything.

A big shout out to everyone at the CFA, and other emergency services, who did an awesome job fighting the fires and keeping us safe.

Australia Day, should we change the date?

Australia Day, should we change the date?

There’s been lots of heated discussion around the date we celebrate Australia Day.  I’ve committed to posting a daily video to YouTube for 30 days, so I thought I’d make my January 26 video all about Australia Day.  I talk about alternative dates to celebrate our great nation and give you my thoughts.

Check out the video below…

If the embedded video doesn’t load, click here… 

Black Friday

Black Friday

Just like in America, Australia had big Black Friday retail and online sales last weekend.  These sales kicked off a month of Christmas shopping, but where did Black Friday come from and did I personally pick up a bargain?

Black Friday in Australia

When I was growing up in the ’70s and 80’s, the term Black Friday was used to commemorate the disastrous 1939 bush fires.  Any occurrence of Friday the 13th might also be referred to as Black Friday.  In recent years Australian retail and online sellers have adopted the term from the United States to name heavily discounted and promoted sales over the last weekend in November.

The push to use the term “Black Friday” for sales and discounts in Australia at the end of November, may have come from the American online seller Amazon, who launched their Australian operations in 2017.

Black Friday in the USA

In the United States, the Friday after the Thanksgiving public holiday has been synonymous with big sales since the early 1950s, with the term “Black Friday” being traced back to 1962. One theory for the origin of the term is that it allowed retailers to get their balance books back into he black, instead of the red ink to signify a loss of money. 

Check out the Black Friday Wikipedia page to learn more.

My Black Friday experience

Browsing on my phone at lunch time on Friday 23rd November I spotted a great deal for the new GoPro Hero 7 Black.  Normally selling for $599 in Australia, Amazon had a Black Friday price of $505, with their sale running until Monday.  My wife said I could shout myself an early Christmas present, so I logged on to Amazon that night to place an order, only to find out the same GoPro was now listed at $547.

Amazon screenshot lunchtime Black Friday

Friday 23rd, 1:33pm

Amazon screenshot Black Friday evening

Friday 23rd, 10:09pm

The next day, Saturday, Amazon Australia tweeted “only three days left” for their Black Friday bargains.  I replied asking if I could still get the GoPro at the lunchtime price, but only got a generic reply about not price matching.

Can’t see the tweets?
Click HERE (opens new tab)

Far from impressed with Amazon’s floating price and poor customer service response on social media, I started looking around at other online deals and found a good deal at Teds Cameras, $510 for the GoPro Hero 7 Black – plus a free gift!

TEDS GoPro ScreenShot

Teds Cameras Black Friday 2018 screenshot – GoPro Hero 7 Black
(click here for today’s price)


Cyber Monday

Imagine my surprise, and frustration, when I see Amazon Australia reduce the price for the GoPro Hero 7 Black on Cyber Monday. 

(The term “Cyber Monday” comes from the early days of online sales in America, when buyers would wait until they went back to work on Monday to utilise faster internet in the office.) 

Monday the 26th was supposed to still be part of Amazon’s Black Friday sale, but for Cyber Monday their price for the top of the line GoPro had dropped to $494.

Monday 26th – Cyber Monday

The Ted’s Cameras Experience

So it’s too late to worry about Amazon snubbing me, then going a few dollars cheaper anyway.  I’ve placed an order with Ted’s Cameras, so I should have my new GoPro within in a few days… Wrong!

On Tuesday 27th Teds sent me a text saying there may be some delays because Black Friday was a huge success.  Now a week after placing my order, I’m still waiting for delivery and Ted’s sent me another text today saying they received 8 times their normal orders over their Black Friday sale.  They hope to despatch mine ASAP.

Teds SMS Tuesday after Black Friday

Ted’s Cameras text message,
Tuesday after Black Friday

Teds Cameras text message one week after Black Friday

Teds Cameras text message,
one week after Black Friday

Frustrations and Expectations

Amazon surprised me with their low prices for the new GoPro Hero 7 Black, but the fact their price was constantly changing was terribly frustrating.  Had I stuck with Amazon though, I would’ve had my new toy within a couple of days.

I am so glad I found an almost as low price at Ted’s Cameras, but frustrated they didn’t foresee the sales spike over the Black Friday weekend.  When I check the status of my order online, a week later it still says “allocating stock”.

When the GoPro Hero 7 Black does finally arrive, I expect I will have lots of fun working out exactly what it can do.

UPDATE: 2 weeks later

Two weeks after placing my Black Friday order with Ted’s Cameras, I still don’t have my new GoPro.  Last week I logged on to check the status of my order, which said they were still “Allocating Stock.  An online chat with Customer Service advised they had to wait for another shipment from GoPro, but stock should start going out soon.

The status of my order has now been “Pending Shippit” for several days, which I guess means it hasn’t even been dispatched yet.

Teds Customer Support Chat

Another update, Sunday 23rd December;

One month after placing my order from Ted’s Cameras, during their Black Friday sale, I finally received the last item today.  This blog post was supposed to be about Black Friday sales in Australia, but instead it has turned into a commentary on the poor delivery logistics from this major photography retailer.  Ted’s don’t send out orders from a central warehouse, but instead from individual stores, which can mean multiple shipments from which-ever store has the stock.  

Multiple stores sending out multiple shipments to cover one order can lead to mistakes, which it appears is what happened to my order.  Thankfully Ted’s Customer Service team are very helpful, including dispatching the final item based purely on an angry tweet from me.

I also had issues with the Australia Post or Star Track delivery drivers not doing their job properly.  Maybe I’ll do a follow-up post about all of this after Christmas, stay tuned!

Pencil and Paper Votes

Pencil and Paper Votes

Yesterday Victorians voted to decide who would form the state government for the next four years.  The highlight for me was my 18 year old son, Josh, voting for the first time.  He collected all the How-To-Vote fliers from the various parties, lined up with me to get our names crossed off the big book and went into the cardboard cubicle to cast his vote.  While I was completing my vote, I couldn’t help but wonder how long it would be until voting goes digital.

I wrote about pencil and paper votes after the 2016 Federal Election, and I still don’t understand why we waste so much paper, money and time voting the same way we did 100 years ago.  Some people will talk about the security and fraud risk of going digital, but I don’t accept that.  We have been doing our banking and taxes online for years, surely our finance data is more secure than which political candidates we vote for.

After we completed the vote cards we stuffed them into a cardboard box and threw the fliers into the recycle bin.  Surely in Josh’s lifetime, Australia will move to either voting online from home, or at very least at a digital booth at the local school.

recycling how-to-vote cards

Recycling bin for How-To-Vote cards at the election