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About Brockman

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  • Location Kreuzberg, Berlin
  • Nationality US
  • Gender Male
  • Year of birth
  1. Problem with ATU order/service

    I doubt you’ll convince them to let you off the hook. Why not just ignore them?
  2. Problem with ATU order/service

    Probably several people on this forum will tell you this is bad advice and that you should read the contract, pay up, and get legal insurance and lawyer up, but whatever, don’t consider it advice, I’m just telling you my experience. I had something similar with ATU, I ordered a roof box, signed a order form, but I didn’t leave a deposit. The same day a friend offered to lend me one so I rang them up and tried to cancel the order, but they said I was still on the hook. I told them I wasn’t and then I re-read the order form and couldn’t find anything about canceling. I simply told them I wouldn’t be showing up to the appointment and I insisted on canceling. The guy became aggressive so I pulled the I don’t speak German card and since he didn’t speak English the conversation ended quickly. I think they might have tried to call back on the appointment day but I ignore all unknown numbers so they never got through. That was 3 years ago and I never heard from them, nor have they ever sent anything in the post. 
  3. I see from your profile you're American (I am too), so I think your experience boils down to the new car customer / selling experience in Germany vs the USA. I say that because I recently spent the past 2 months new car shopping, visited about 7 dealerships, and in the beginning, my experience was similar to yours. German car salespeople do not seem as motivated as American car salespeople, and they definitely do not seem like they have the same pressure to sell, probably because they earn decent base salaries. When browsing at the dealership, if I had questions, I needed to seek out a salesperson to help me, and it wasn't always straightforward, especially since I went in with my American mentality that all of the salespeople should drop everything and come and assist me and beg me to buy a car. No one ever approached me at any dealership, even after I was browsing around for 20 minutes. I'd approach people sitting at a desk and was often made to wait while the person at the desk appeared to me typing away at the computer or on a mobile phone (I guess they were working), or, sometimes they went to find another salesperson to help me. Also, I think certain salespeople are assigned to certain cars because in one place, I had a salesperson helping me for one model, but when I asked to see another, he said that I had to speak to his colleague. Based on learning that German car salespeople expect their customers to be well prepared in making their purchase, I adjusted my approach. I used the online configurators from the car company websites and chose the features I wanted to get an idea of the prices, and then I would generate a PDF of the configuration and email local dealers and see if they had it in stock and if they were willing to let me test drive a similar model. This worked much better. I got fast responses and pretty much everyone offered test drives.   Also, RE test drives, if you're not having any luck finding dealerships that offer them (I was surprised that many dealerships in Berlin do not offer them), request one online and then you'll be contacted by the car company, who will make an appointment for you at the dealership nearest to where you live. Note, they just give you the car and you can take it out for 2-3 hours, after you sign a stack of papers (check your own car insurance / Haftpflichtversicherung before taking any test drives).   Good luck!  
  4. I'll be there, maybe more towards 18.00 however.
  5. King of the Grill!

    I've got that clamshell Weber gas grill, which I've umrusted from a having the small 'camping' propane bottle to the large 10kg  one. We grill 2-3 times per week between April and November, and maybe once every 2 weeks during the summer. It's on a balcony so it needs to be gas, although, some neighbors I see do have charcoal. They do not use their grills even nearly the frequency that I do, thankfully. If I had my druthers I'd always use woodchips, but it's just not an option on a city balcony with 2 small children running around.
  6. Elternzeit general questions

    I don't think it is a matter of hoping that it works. I think that even as the father, you are legally entitled to parental leave, as long as you send the request and supporting documentation to your employer at least 7 weeks before the due date of your child. Other TTers, correct me if I am wrong, but can an employer reject Elternzeit for a father? I don't think they are legally able to reject it. They can give you a hard time about the exact dates and try to influence that, but I don't think they can say flat out no. I think you are indeed protected from losing your job once you inform them of your intention to take Elternzeit.   Consider requesting the 2nd month now, and then if you want to change it, the 7-week rule applies. So, if you take July 15th to Aug 15th, and Dec. 15th to Jan. 15th, you can request approval from your employer 7-weeks before the next period (so say you change your mind and want to do Nov. 15th to Dec. 15th, then you need to request approval 7 weeks before Nov. 15th).   RE TK: They contacted me automatically when I requested Elternzeit approval from my employer applied to my local Bürgeramt in Berlin for Elternzeit, I don't recall contacting them directly. One day some form arrived in the post from them and I had to fill it in and send it back.   I think this website explains Elternzeit pretty well:   I was only able to find this in English from the government agency that manages Elternzeit:
  7. Elternzeit general questions

    Yes, submit Elternzeit request to employer no later than 7 weeks before the estimated due date. My company asked me to provide a letter from my wife's doctor confirming the estimated due date. Your Elternzeit will actually start on whatever day the baby is born. Employers and the Bürgeramt Elterngeldstelle know to take this into consideration.   Yes, you can definitely split 1st birth month, go back to work, and then take a subsequent birth month. For example, if your kid is born July 15th 2018, you can take 1 month July 15th to Aug. 15th, and then another month, say Dec. 15th to Jan 15th 2019 and get Elterngeld for 2 months. I did it. Your employer would need to approve. You and the mother can take up to 14 months combined with Elterngeld, until 1 calendar year after the date of birth. Note, you need to take at least 2 months to be eligible for Elterngeld. Elterngeld 2 is more flexible, and can be taken for a longer period (less money).   To apply, fill in the form from your local Bürgeramt Elterngeldstelle and attach all relevant info (baby birth certificate, 12 prior months pay stubs, passport, Anmeldebescheinigung, Health Insurance card copy, Social Insurance info, whatever else they list in the form).   Talk to your city's Elterngeldstelle directly, don't count on your boss or company's HR department knowing anything.
  8. What is your feedback on (TransferWise)

    It is likely that Transferwise would have a more favorable exchange rate than the UK bank. This was my experience when transferring from SEPA participating UK and CH based banks. For large amounts, this can be significant.      
  9. What is your feedback on (TransferWise)

    I transferred a large amount of money from the USA to Germany using Transferwise for a similar purpose, and I received the money in my German bank account within 3 working days and it all went very smoothly (no surprises whatsoever). I sent my German bank a heads up that the money was coming, and they wrote back like it was no big deal. I have been using the Transferwise service since it launched probably more than 5 years ago. I highly recommend it.   Definitely, definitely do what Fraufruit says and transfer it to your local German EUR bank account BEFORE you transfer it to the realtor. Open a bank account if you need to (I think Transferwise can help you with that too).
  10. Stone Brewing in Alt Mariendorf, Berlin

    I really like BRLO too and I am a semi-regular there. I would probably like it more if better food was available at the outside kiosk, the interior restaurant is not that great in the summer. But oh well, the beer selection is great, and it's usually pretty quick to queue up and order even when it is rammed. I think the staff is very pleasant as well, a rarity in Berlin.
  11. Stone Brewing in Alt Mariendorf, Berlin

    I think Stone Berlin sustains itself by brewing beer to distribute around Europe. I've been there several times, including what should be 'peak times' and I never saw it even remotely full. Busy, yes, full, not even close. Whereas, I've seen Stone beers in London, which said 'made in Berlin' on the can. I think it's more of a special occasion type place, and I typically only go there when beer nerd friends are visiting from out of town.   I am a regular at Bier Laden on Kreuzbergstr. I've been going there for months and they know me quite well. I think they have the best selection of German craft beers in Berlin, that seems to be the focus. I'm the guy you see there Saturday afternoons when they open, sitting next to the toddler glued to the iPhone. The staff always gives my son a free Apfelschorle while daddy sips his pint. They also kind of double as a bar in the evenings. I've ended up there until 1am on a Friday night.
  12. Registering a marriage in Germany

    @Miya CR Remember you need to go to the Standesamt of the Bezirk where you are angemeldet (registered as a resident).
  13. Registering a marriage in Germany

    See this post from me:      
  14. Travelling to New York next year

    I am originally from the NY area and I recently went there with my German wife and father in law. FIL stayed at the Best Western in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and he said it was fine. We didn't actually see the room but he would have told us if it were shit. He paid around $120 USD per night all in although he found some special, it might be more in high season. They had free breakfast and since he is a 75 year old German man that was a big plus. My sister lives in Bay Ridge and it is a very safe and diverse neighborhood, we always stay with her when we go to NYC. It's like the NYC of another era before the rampant gentrification took hold. There are lots of families, immigrants, mom and pop shops, and of course a wide range of excellent restaurants and bars. From there, the R train will get you to midtown Manhattan in around 40 min if it's running good. In Bay Ridge, everyone you're likely to interact with on a daily basis will have a different accent, and very few will have a pure American accent. It reminds me of the NY I lived in in the late 90s, in a good way. Check it out. Also, I can highly recommend the Crown Heights neighborhood as another poster did. Have fun.
  15. I agree with Krieg and kaffeemitmilch. Definitely get the 7 speed and the fenders. You'll find both very useful in Berlin. I have a saddle bag on one side that hooks to the back rack, but I barely use it, I'm more of a rucksack guy. Also, it doesn't fit well with the kid seat on the back. Although my bike is very much a city / commuter bike, I've actually taken it on some light trails around the city, and even did a 100 km ride on a Fahrradweg. As for a lock, I just have 1 U lock which I lock the back wheel and frame with. I rarely leave the bike in public (we have a Fahrradkeller at home and at the office) and until now, I haven't had a problem. Perhaps when the bike is new, get a cheaper 2nd lock as a deterrent. Always lock to something immobile. I also highly recommend a hi vis vest and extra blinking lights. Good luck!