Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Obituary of Mr. Common Sense

Today this baby boomer is mourning the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as: knowing when to come in out of the rain; why the early bird gets the worm; life isn't always fair; and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies - don't spend more than you can earn; and reliable strategies - Adults, not Children, are in charge.

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place; reports of a 6 -year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate. Teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent a band-aid or an aspirin to a student.

Common Sense lost the will to live as churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death by His parents, Truth and Trust; His wife,
Discretion; His daughter, Responsibility; and His son, Reason. He is survived by his 3 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, Someone Else Is To Blame, and I'm A Victim.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Big Baby Boomer Swindle?

Did you know America's Top CEO's earned $5.4 billion last year? And get this: They were ALL white males and baby boomers.

It's obviously going to take more than 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, that Hillary referred to in her Presidential bid, in order for women to get their fair share. The highest paid female executive is Indra Nooyi of Pepsico. But her salary of $12.7 million (including $4.5 million in bonus pay) pales in comparison to what her male counterparts are receiving.

And it gets even worse for the top African-American CEO, Kenneth Chenault of American Express. Chenault received a 2008 salary of $1.25 million and a $6.11 million cash bonus for his performance in 2006 that vested in February 2009.

Here are the Top Ten Highest Pad CEO's according to Forbes magazine:

Richard Fairbank, age 55, Capital One Financial, earned $249 million

Terry Semel, age 63, Yahoo, earned $230.5 million

Henry Silverman, age 65, Cendant, earned $139.9 million

Bruce Karatz, age 60, KB Homes, earned $135.5 million

Richard S Fuld, Jr., age 60, Lehman Bros. Holdings, earned $122.6 million

Ryan R. Irani, age 71, Occidental Petroleum, earned $80.7 million

Lawrence J. Ellison, age 61, Oracle, earned $75.3 million

John W. Thompson, age 57, Symantec, earned $71.8 million

Edwin M. Crawford, age 57, Caremark Rx, earned $69.6 million

Angelo R. Mozilo, age 67, Countrywide Financial, earned $68.85 million

Now there is an argument you have to have to pay top $$$ to keep your best people but if you look at the above list, one has to question what "best" really means.

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Customer Service Hall of Shame

Today I received a call from a young man indicating he was conducting some research on behalf of Bank of America. It was a customer satisfaction survey. After he told me the conversation was being recorded, I took the liberty of giving him a piece of my mind. I told him it disturbed me that Bank of America was spending, perhaps millions, to get opinions on their customer service---and the fact that they could be using bailout money was downright disgusting.

Bank of America's attempts to improve its customer service comes on the heels of poor ratings they've received over the past couple of years. In a 2008 MSN Money-Zogby International survey, 31% of respondents familiar with Bank of America's customer service rated it "poor." In 2007, 30% rated it "poor." Why? Because employees don't seem to have a clue on how to really help you when you call them on the phone. One time my husband discovered a charge with his online account but the employee he talked to couldn't explain the charge. He later discovered the bank had changed a policy but failed to inform him about it. Why the employee didn't know about this change in policy is beyond me.

Bank of America ranks #7 on the Customer Service Hall of Shame List, along with these other Companies:

1. AOL

2. Comcast

3. Sprint Nextel

4. Abercrombie & Fitch

5. Qwest

6. Capital One

7. Bank of America

8. Time Warner Cable

9. HSBC Finance

10. Cox Communications

Perhaps if these Companies put more money into training their employees on how to give good customer service and in depth training on what the company does, they wouldn't have to spend so much money trying to figure out their problems.

Are there any companies you think should be added to the Customer Service Hall of Shame?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Gray Today Gone Tomorrow?

According to medical statistics, 50 percent of us are at least 50 percent gray by the age of 50. Some of us go to great lengths to get rid of the gray strands but that may not be necessary in the future thanks to a new discovery.

A team of European Scientists in England say they may have figured out why hair turns gray, and their finding may open the door to new anti-graying strategies.

Going gray is caused by a massive build up of hydrogen peroxide due to wear and tear of our hair follicles. The peroxide winds up blocking the normal synthesis of melanin, our hair's natural pigment.

The process starts when there is a dip in levels of an enzyme called catalase. That catalase shortfall means that the hydrogen peroxide that naturally occurs in hair can't be broken down. So hydrogen peroxide builds up in the hair, and because other enzymes that would repair hydrogen peroxide's damage are also in short supply, the hair goes gray.

Researchers say if they can stop the chemical chain reaction, our natural hair color might not ever change.

But come on. Let's get real. How many baby boomers do you know who still have your "natural" hair color?