Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

United they will fall

Posted in Businesson Apr 10, 2017

Dear United Airlines,

The Internet has video of you dragging a paying customer kicking and screaming off your plane.  It is quite embarrassing for you.  The old PR means of dealing with this kind of embarrasment–downplay it and it will blow over in a few weeks–won’t work, just as it didn’t work for Target last year with its bathroom debacle.  It cost Target millions and will cause you much more if you fail to address the new age of Internet-mob-rules public relations.

Here are some options you may consider and how they might work out for you:

Apologize and never do it again.  You might have your ego bruised for the few weeks it would take for this to all blow over.  Be careful, because a half apology, one where you only apologize for the Internet’s response, will only make it worse.  Try something like “We apologize to the passenger, everyone else on the flight, and all of our customers. It should not have happened.  We promise that we will never do it again.”

Blame the police.  There is a lot of distrust of the police, so you may be able to shift the blame, but it could backfire if The Internet thinks you are simply trying to avoid taking responsibility.  Your message would be one like, “We called in the Port Police to de-escalate the situation, but unfortunately it wasn’t resolved in a manner consistent with our customer commitment.  We are working with the Police authorities to ensure their responses are more appropriate in the future.”

Convince the Internet that the unruly passenger is the one at fault.  So basically, your millions of customers probably think that if they are sitting in a seat that they paid for, that they shouldn’t be forced out of their seat.  Sure you might have some legal stuff that proves otherwise, but that won’t stop your millions of customers from thinking that.  So you could blame the customer, suggest that he was at fault for not obeying instructions or following the rules.  And good luck convincing The Internet of that.  Yeah, you might think it noble to stand up for your company or your employees, and you will find yourself certainly having to do that when the entire Internet inflicts boycott wrath on your financials.

When a business has to let go of an employee, they often give a sum of money and assistance to the employee to help them while they find a new job.

While severance is nice, most businesses don’t exist to be nice, they exist to make money.  And business make money by retaining their most profitable employees.  So while it sounds backwards, offering severance is a retention policy.

The goal of severance is to make it good enough that employees know that they won’t financially suffer if the company lets them go.  Suppose a company offered a full year of severance (not widely done, but good enough for this example).  If I am enjoying my job, then I can focus on doing a good job knowing that I can postpone any job searches until I need to.

A company who doesn’t offer sufficient severance is not discouraging their employees from looking elsewhere.  Especially when business gets bad, employees actively consider the possibility of being left jobless and financially struggling.  Without a safety net, these employees will preemptively look for more security in changing jobs to a more secure company.

This is why USPS struggles

Posted in Businesson Nov 8, 2014

Here is a screen capture from my USPS package tracking:

snapshot2

Notice that “Postal Product” indicates “2-Day” mail. Which means that it should have been delivered on October 2, which is two days after my ship date of September 30.

But somehow this package is:

  • On Time (for delivery on October 2)
  • Expected Delivery on October 4
  • Delivered on October 3

Is Costco a good fit for you?

Posted in Business, Reviewson Sep 12, 2014

With Costco coming to Northern Colorado, I thought I would share some thoughts on why you would or wouldn’t want to get a Costco membership.

Costco is a good place to buy quality products, in larger quantities, at good prices, but that doesn’t mean your grocery budget will shrink.

Why Costco might not be a good fit:

  • If you are the type of person who is ok buying lower quality products at bargain prices, then Costco probably isn’t a good fit for you.
  • If you wait to buy groceries until you have a coupons to match with a sale, then Costco probably isn’t a good fit for you.
  • If you only buy groceries for the next few days, then buying groceries at Costco would require changes to you shopping methods.
  • If you only buy groceries for a couple of people, then the quantities purchased at Costco might be too much for you.
  • If you want things delivered to your home.
  • If you like asking store associates for help.

Why Costco might be a good fit:

  • If you buy a lot of organics, you might find Costco’s prices pretty competitive.
  • If you like to do a lot of dinner entertaining, Costco has great selections.
  • If you have a couple of hungry teenagers, Costco can sell you lots of food quickly.
  • If you normally buy the highest quality brands even when they are not on sale, Costco will sell you comparable brands at better prices.
  • If you don’t choosing between brands, Costco has already researched the best brands and will only sell you the brand they stand behind.
  • If you are looking to buy some big-ticket items (furnature, bikes, televisions), then buying it at Costco might save you more than your membership fee in a single purchase.
  • If you bake bread, Costco will sell yourflour and yeast in quantities you can’t get at King Soopers.
  • If you like shopping where employees are paid and treated well, you will find lots of happy employees at Costco.

If you still don’t know if Costco is a good fit for you, I suggest giving it a try. They have a satisfaction guarantee on your membership: if you try Costco but are unhappy with your membership, they will refund your membership fee. If you try products at Costco but are unhappy with them, you can easily return them (some electronics have a limited return window.)

Cheap cell phone plans

Posted in Business, Reviewson Sep 3, 2014

If you are spending hundreds of dollars on a cell phone plan that you don’t use very much, you are spending too much.  Here are a couple of different cell phone services for those people who only need a cell phone for talking a few minutes a day.

Ring Plus has plans starting at just $2/month for 50 minutes.  Apparently, you get to listen to advertisements instead of ringing. While there is no contract, this isn’t a strict pre-paid plan and you can incur (reasonable) overages. Operates on the Sprint Network.

Ptel provides a Pay As You Go with rates of 5 cents/minute.  You have to recharge your account with  minimum of $10 every 60 days.  They operate on the T-Mobile network, so you should be able to use any unlocked GSM phone.

FreedomPop operates on Sprint’s Data Networks.  From what I can tell, you use a FreedomPop VoIP client on the phone to make calls over a data connection.  Since calls go over data instead of voice, the reliability, coverage or call quality may not be as good in some areas.  However, they provide 200 minutes, 500 text messages, and 500 MB data for free every month.

H2O Wireless provides a Pay As You Go plan providing 5 cents/minute, with payments of $10 or more every 90 days.  They operate on AT&T’s network, and you can bring any unlocked GSM phone.

PagePlus is on Verizon’s network.  Their Pay As You Go rate is 10 cents/minute when you add $10 every 120 days.  They provide better rates when adding $25 or $50 to your account.

Because plans change all the time, you should take all this information as a general starting point and investigate your own plans.  I’ve only listed 5 services, but there are many more.  With all sorts of various plans including pre-paid, post-paid, pay-as-you-go and unlimited plans.

This table shows an average monthly cost for each service based on a set number of monthly minutes.  The rates do not consider text-messaging or data rates, do not include the cost of a phone, and may not be valid for variable month-to-month usage.

Monthly Minutes RingPlus Ptel FreedomPop H20 PagePlus Net 10
 10 min  $2  $5  Free  $3.33  $2.50 $15
 30 min  $2  $5  Free  $3.33  $3 $15
 50 min  $2  $5  Free  $3.33  $5 $15
 100 min  $3  $5  Free  $5  $6.25 $15
 150 min  $4  $7.50  Free  $7.50  $9 $15
 200 min  $5  $10  Free  $10  $12 $20
 250 min  $6  $12.50  $8  $12.50  $12.50 $20
 300 min  $7  $15  $8  $15  $15 $20

Want to know more?  Ask a question in the comments.

Xcel West Main Gas Pipeline

Posted in Businesson Aug 4, 2014

Dear Xcel Energy,

Your communications about the Xcel West Main Gas Pipeline construction through Fort Collins have been misleading.  Considerations to Fort Collins motorists have been minimal.

In an April 21 article in the Coloradoan, Kevin Duggan reports that East bound Drake Road would be closed for two weeks for construction.  15 weeks later and there is still construction on Drake Road causing lane closures.

In a June 30 article in the Coloradoan, Kevin Duggan reports that work should wrap up that week, by July 4, along Drake and Timberline, except that it hasn’t.

On your own website you state, “There are currently no road or lane closures in place for work along South Timberline Road north of the Drake Road intersection.” (Pulled 8:45am, August 4).  Except that as I drove by this morning I noticed that a South bound lane was closed for more construction.

I understand the need for infrastructure upgrades.  But the importance of such upgrades are no excuse for poor communications with the public.  Not only is information passed through the newspaper or your website incorrect, but roadside information has been almost non-existent.  There have been no signs informing the public of possible delays.  Even “LEFT LANE CLOSED AHEAD” signs are located low to the ground on the right side of the road where they often can’t be seen by drivers in the left lane.  That is not being “responsible by nature.”

Maybe you are wrapping things up (although I’ve thought that a few times before) and it is too late to make this plea, but I request that you get your communications act together and start being more forthcoming with the public about lane closures, possible delays, and the realistic time frames for such activities.

Sincerely,

Jacob Brunson

REI recently announced that their 100% satisfaction guarantee only lasts for one year, whereas their guarantee used to be time unlimited.

Sure, with REI’s transition to a clothing store, you don’t really need a full year to decide if you are satisfied with a pair of socks.

But when it comes to camping and other outdoor equipment, its not like I use my gear day in and day out. In fact, I only go camping about three times a year. If I were to buy a tent (the cheapest tents that REI sells are about $100), I would expect it to last more than three camping trips.

Paying a premium price for outdoor equipment, I expect it to last for more than just a handful of adventures. Under the old REI return policy, if I found on my fifth camping trip that the tent really didn’t stand up to the wind like I expected it to, I could return it. Under the new policy, I better go camping many times in many conditions in the first year to make sure I bought a satisfactory tent.

In fact, it was only under the really exceptional old return policy that I even considered buying expensive camping equipment at REI, because I knew that REI guaranteed my investment.


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