Neighborhood Ice Cream Trucks in February?

It’s an overcast midwestern winter day, the temperature is in the 40s, and I can hear some funky music outside. What? Is that the ice cream truck?

I look outside and sure enough an ice cream van is slowing driving up the street playing that little melody that is supposed to draw the attention of all of the little kiddies within earshot.

The economy must be pretty bad if the ice cream man is out looking for clients in winter. Heck, just 3 days ago, the temperature was in the 20s – probably colder than his frozen treats – and my front yard was still covered in snow.

Weird.

Peanut Butter Terrorism

What are we up to– 400 plus products recalled because one greedy business owner looked the other way.

We hear a lot about how the government needs to stay out of the business of doing business. Well this is a perfect example of exactly why government interference is needed in the private sector. People are sick, others are dead – because one company chose to ignore the possibility of salmonella contamination.

What about the ripple effect to the customers of Peanut Corporation of America? And the peanut industry as a whole?

Peanut butter was a big staple in my diet.

Peanut butter on a toasted whole wheat bagel for breakfast.

Peanut butter crackers as a mid-morning snack or on a hike.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch or an occasionally dinner.

Peanut butter cups – both on their  own and the mini ones in ice cream.

I bet this stupid company flew the American flag on the holidays, (they added “America” to their name), gave lip service to how much they cared about their employees (I assume they are now out of work) and talked about how wonderful they were as a contributor to the economy, the community, blah, blah, blah.

Keep this in mind. All terrorist don’t look alike. They can high-jack a whole industry when they exhibit greed in favor of a true “corporate conscious.”

Does Your Marketing – and Branding – Suck?

We hear a lot about marketing, branding, blah, blah, blah. As the economy continues to toughen up – small businesses will have to work even harder to attract and retain clients.

Branding is more than just slapping a pretty logo on your product or brochures — then sitting back waiting for customers to beat down your door. Branding is about EVERYTHING you do.

A year ago, as my mother’s health continued to decline, I attended a “senior fair” sponsored by a law office specializing in estate planning. Several vendors had tables and there were a variety of speakers on a wide range of subjects. One of the speakers was from a company offering home health care services at my mother’s senior apartment building. The speaker made some interesting comments, and after she left the podium, I asked if she would be available for questions after the next speaker finished. “Yes, we have a table.”

Another 30 or 45 minutes passed before the other speaker finished, then I went searching for her table and asked the organizers to help me locate her. I guess the opportunity to finish work early on a Friday afternoon was just too big a temptation as she had closed up shop before the event had concluded.

Fast forward to the fall. Since her company was the most highly recommended of the two company’s located at my mom’s apartment building, we had contracted with them to provided morning and evening assistance with dressing and medicine administration.

My mother had a stroke in September, moved to one nursing home and then another in October. Cash flow was a bit of a problem, but I did send a small payment in  October and the balance due in November. The company did not send any statements, make a phone call, etc. –the payments were sent because we knew the money was owed.

Yesterday I received a second copy of the September invoice — not a statement. Attached was a sticky note with a handwritten message that the company had received payments, but we still owed money. The last sentence read “My accountant advised me this would be the last statement sent for this invoice before going to Collections.” The note was not signed.

The  invoice was the type that comes right out of Word, so it has a cookie cutter look to it. That’s fine for a small business. But nobody bothered to make the effort to look professional and turn it into a statement showing the monies received — they just stuck a blue sticky note on it.

Here is my response to the company:

I have received an invoice for  my mother.  There is no email on the invoice, so I am using this one.

Your company is looking for an additional $401.

As you are well aware, Mrs. Mom did not receive services for the full month of September.

According to my records,  your company has been paid  in full for August (including the increase in package) and for all of the days she lived at the apartment building in September up to and including the day of her departure.

The checks sent in October and November were sent not in response to any invoice — but because we knew we had received services and wanted to pay my mother’s account in full for all services ordered and received.Your current invoice clearly shows it was your policy prior to November 1, 2008, for clients to receive refunds when they did not receive services.

FYI – while she was there, some of the services we contracted  for were not performed. For example, I posted a reminder on the bathroom mirror and complained to your staff several times that I had frequently found nasty dirty denture water still sitting in her denture cup at the end of the day — even though all I requested was that it be dumped and rinsed out for just a second or so every morning. Not only that, I counted the denture tablets and they were not being used — no surprise since the same nasty water was still there. Made me wonder if they removed her dentures at all.

Also, there were many nites when I dressed Mom — with no expectation that there would be a refund — although your staff indicated there would be. We did not ask or expect one.

Generally, your employees were very nice and caring.

Instead of chasing ambulances to the hospital seeking additional income for new services — I would suggest you contact your client’s families for feedback while the person is still at the apartment to see if all services are being performed adequately.

In my opinion, the time to conduct your company’s marketing (such as customer satisfaction calls) is when your client is living at the apartment –not when you see an opportunity to make more money when a crisis has occurred. Your visits to see my mom at the hospital came across to me as a sales pitch and it really felt quite inappropriate.

Tell that to your accountant.

(editor’s note – I have removed proper names to protect my mother’s privacy.)

A Look Back At A Bad Social Security Idea

Back in 2005 Presidential contenders George Bush and Al Gore were discussing plans to save social security.

Bush supported a plan to allow employees to invest part of their social security funds into the stock market.
Unfortunately, Bush won…but if his idea had come to fruition, there would be a lot more people up at night.

George is going to speak to us this morning on the economy. When he speaks, boy do I feel reassured! He always looks like a little kid who’s been pushed out on stage against his will. “Talk, George, Talk!”

And now we have the chance to elect the wandering John McCain. Actually, he has sounded more confident in the debates than at other appearances. But when he wandered around the stage at this week’s debate, it reminded me of people with mental illnesses pacing around aimlessly, presumably releasing up pent up energy. Maybe he’s nervous about the possibility of actually winning. Then what?

We don’t need any more wandering presidents. The Republicans have had their turn…and look at the economy. We really can’t afford four more years.

Wall Street and Congress Should Quit Threatening Us

“Housing Prices Will Drop”

Good. I’m ready for a drop in my property taxes. I’m not planning on moving anytime soon, yet I have to keep paying more and more real real estate taxes to the county. A lot of elderly people and other working class people can’t keep up with these increases.

Also, I could never afford to buy my own house now. What about other people in the same income bracket? Especially young families. Let ’em drop.

I’ve always heard being a mortgage lender was a great way to make a lot of money. Drop those salaries and commissions. Drop those interest rates. You created the system, fix it yourself. Don’t make ALL the taxpayers responsible for your mistakes. Put some people in jail if you find they violated the law.

Let people stay in their houses and take less of a payment for now. Get that cash flowing.

“We Won’t Have Any Credit”

The only money I owe is on my house. I pay off my credit card each and every month. People like me will still have credit as long as companies are making money off of us. Every time I use my card, Wal-Mart, QT, etc. pay the credit card a fee. Somebody’s making some money off me.

Are school’s teaching math anymore? For those home buyers and mortgage lenders “in crisis”…go back to school and learn to manage your finances.

And where was the oversight? I thought banks had regular visits from banking examiners? If the mess is this big, how can we trust that it won’t get bigger with a bail out?

George Bush….keep your damn bail out plan. You and  your rich buddies put your own personal cash into it if it’s so damn important.

This is no “investment.” It’s a threat aimed at the emotions of the American people.

How many lobbyist are pushing for this plan? Who are they and what are they being paid?

Bailout, loan, whatever you call it…we are not so naive to believe that this is a “good deal” for the economy or that suddenly the employment rate will drop, etc. We’ve already got a war to pay for. We can’t have it all without creating newer, bigger problems down the road.

And how many more companies are going to expect a bail out? Where does it end if you don’t stop it now?

Smokers Fair Better At Work

I’m working at a place where we are supposed to clock out for lunch…but not smoke breaks.

So the smokers go outside several times a day for 10 minutes or more each time….while on the clock.

I’m too busy working to count how many times they go out, but I would bet it averages at least four times a day per smoker.  Maybe more. I don’t smoke, so I don’t know much about much time smoking requires. Maybe it’s six times a day and adds up to more than an hour.

I think non-smokers ought to get paid for their lunch hours…without having to eat outside.

Smokers cost companies more in terms of wasted time and higher insurance premiums.  Non-smokers should at least get a free lunch break.

Some Of My Readers Might Be A Little Strange

If you go into the backroom of the WordPress software, you can find out how people came across your blog in the past day or so.

I like to see what Google search terms brought people to my digital front door.

Here’s what I saw today:

“how to peep on boobs”  — Do you think this was a 7 year old boy?

“grey hair boobs” – no comment

“old office boobs” – Someone with an elderly fetish maybe.

At least the voyeurs wanted to see I had to say!

Here’s the entry that brought them here:

https://intuitivelyobvious.wordpress.com/2008/06/20/boobs-in-the-office/

12 Hours & Same Email Keeps Rolling In

Meetup.com has been sending the same email to me every minute for 12 hours now. No one on their support board seems to see our SOS.

I can’t delete them fast enough!

Meetup.com Software Gone Wild

Do you belong to Meetup.com?

Are you receiving the same email message over and over? The same message has been sent every minute for 4 hours. I can’t delete them fast enough. Other members are experiencing the same thing. By morning, I’m sure some of them…or all of us…will have our email accounts shut down. HELP!

Is there a way to contact them NOW to get it fixed or shut down their site. It’s happened in other cities…I don’t know if they are getting 4 hours worth, but 30 or 40 of the same message.

Is there some law that states that they should have some type of emergency procedure? There should be.

If you know someone who works there… CALL THEM NOW, please! Tell them to check THEIR email and organizer boards for details.

Airline Pet Peeve: Name Change Fees

I understand why the airlines have to raise fees to cover the high costs of fuel, but if there’s an airline out there who really wants to be a kinder, gentler, customer-friendly airline…it should drop its name change fees.

If I buy a ticket to a sporting event or a rock concert, I don’t have to commit to the name of the person who will use the tickets. But if I buy an airline ticket, I can’t just sell it — or give it away  — if I can’t use it. Or I have to pay a big fee to use it at a later date or another departure time.

Ski clubs, which sign contracts committing to purchasing a block of tickets several months before the day of departure, incur name change fees if a member cancels out of trip and the trip spot is sold to someone else.  In some cases, the trip has not been paid for in full, and the club needs to fill the accommodations and balance the budget for ground transportation. Most of these are non-profit social organizations managed by volunteers.

And don’t tell me that there is a security risk. Everyone is checked at the airport. It doesn’t take that much time to type in a new name. With everything computerized today, let the consumer go in and change the name.

It takes more time for airline employees to explain the policy than it would to simply change a name.

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