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If you don’t read Orange County Register columnist Steven Greenhut on a regular basis, you should.  His column from February 25th is a jewel. It’s entitled, Customers Rule. In this opinion piece, Steven’s main point is this: Why in the hell does the American public and media get themselves all worked up into a lather and put all of their focus on the occasional bad practices of the private sector but rarely focuses this same level of outrage on Bad Government. Here’s a great quote from Steven’s piece: “No matter how demonstrably bad the government may be, legislators, and even many regular folks, focus much outrage at the private sector – the only portion of society that works relatively efficiently and humanely.”

I wonder this, too, Steven. It’s a great question.

Yes, there are bad people in the business world and there are bad businesses, too.  Yes, there is no excuse for fraud and abuse and for the bad people who took Enron down. But where’s this same outrage over BAD government? Sure, JetBlue screwed up badly during the recent snow storms and left a bunch of people on airplanes for WAY too many hours. These people were abused for sure.  But JetBlue came right back and offered to make it right with customers and create a customer Bill of Rights. Now consider the abuse we take from the government, day in and day out? Steven asks a great question on this subject,  “When was the last time the government offered to reimburse you for being stuck on one of its highways or in one of its offices?” Can you say “NEVER!”

At least the majority of businesses listen to the customer. We can’t say that about government. But it’s about time the American public started demanding that government start listening to it.

As it stands now, the American public is sliding down the razor blade of life as long as we do not demand better service from our government officials.  There is nothing worse than energizing incompetents and this is what the American public is doing by not complaining more about our incompetent government.  Start complaining and holding government officials to the same standards we profess to hold business executives to.

As Steven states, “Government always seeks to stop, regulate, control, tax and put the kibosh on new ideas and entrepreneurship.” I couldn’t agree more. In business, one has to think to be successful. Not too many government officials know how to think. In our capitalist economy, if you know how to think, the rewards are sensational for those who can make things happen.

It ain’t brain surgery.

Richard


BoogieTerry’s last post got us on a Customer (NO) Service line of thinking, so I might as well stay on course.

The photo is of my best friend, Boogie. He’s a 12-year old black (with a lot of gray, like me) lab and the best damn dog in the world.  For years, from the time I got him, I worked from home and me and Boogie hung out together. He was my VP of Customer Relations. He thinks he is human, and sometimes I think he is.

Anyway, Boogie has slowed down a lot the last year or so. Had to quit walking 2 miles a day with me and the wife about a year and half ago. He was still making it a couple of blocks twice a day – morning and evening. He loves to walk. He had his annual checkup in October. We discussed his slowing down and how he seemed to be in a little pain. The Vet recommended Rimadyl. Rimadyl is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug to help reduce pain. We tried it on Boogie and the difference in him was unbelievable. He is a new dog. The stuff worked on him. He’s back to walking about 1/4 mile in the morning and evening and he has his smile back. He is better!

Now his current Vet is his Vet by default. Boogie’s previous Vet was outstanding. Her name was Dr. Karen. He had her for many, many years. Due to highway construction, she lost her building. She opted to join a Vet practice outside Atlanta, where we live. We continued to go to her for a couple of years until last year, Dr. Karen opened another practice about 60 miles out of town – too far to drive for us. So we stayed with the practice she had joined. Now this Vet is OK but nothing like Dr. Karen. Boogie LOVED her – got excited when you said, “Let’s go see Dr. Karen.” He knew her name and he wanted to see her. How do they know? They just do.

Back to the Rimadyl. The new Vet OKs Boogie to stay on Rimadyl after some blood tests. We get the first prescription. The price floored us. About $2 a pill. Now, I don’t mind the $2 a pill if it makes Boogie feel better. But we checked with 1-800-PetMeds and found they had the same pills for about $1.10 a pill. So we tell the Vet. We would rather support your practice and buy the presription from you but your price on Rimadyl is a little high. The Vet won’t come off the price. So we ask for the prescription so we can send it to 1-800-PetMeds. The Vet did not like this request.  But a buck is a buck, right?

We make an order on 1-800-PetMeds. They call the Vet to verify the prescription. The Vet tells PetMeds they don’t deal with PetMeds and hang up the phone. PetMeds contacts us and says we must fax them the hard copy prescription. We get the prescription from the Vet and fax it in. PetMeds calls the Vet again yesterday and they refuse to verify the prescription – stupidology. Now, we have to mail the hard copy prescription in so we can get the Rimadyl from 1-800-PetMeds. How stupid is this?

The Vet, Dr. Greedy, just lost a steady, paying customer. If she had offered the pills at a reasonable markup, I would have paid for the convenience and to support her practice. But double the price? No way. And the way they refused to assist PetMeds in filling our subscription – which they had given to us – is absolutely wrong.

I am a business person and totally understand how to run a profitable business. I understand markup. I understand a reasonable profit. I don’t understand ripping people off and not being helpful to long-term customers, or any customer, for that matter.

Dr. Greedy doesn’t get it – life ain’t brain surgery. Being nice to people and being cooperative will get you further than being mean and greedy. Good-bye, Dr. Greedy. Rot in hell!

Richard 


The mid-term elections were held over two weeks ago and still, in some parts of the country, a winner has not been declared. Once again, expensive electronic voting machines (with no paper trail) are being called into question as to their accuracy. All the while, the fine people of Oregon are probably sitting around laughing at the rest fo the country and saying to themselves, “This voting process thing isn’t that complicated – in ain’t brain surgery.”

Why would they being saying this? Because since 1998, the entire state has been conducting their elections via a Vote by Mail system. The citizens of this great state (obviously very smart people) voted to do away with polling places and conduct all elections by mail. Brillant … and cost effective.  This system ends up costing taxpayers about 30 percent less than polling-place elections.

Every registered voter receives a paper ballot in the mail weeks before Election Day. The ballot can be either mailed back or dropped off at one of a number of secure sites statewide.

The system has proved to be fraud-free. Oregon is one of only two states in the nation to verify every single voter signature against the signature on that voter’s registration card. Their process is transparent and open to observation. Finally, the returned paper ballots, which are the official record of the election, can be recounted by hand.

A University of Oregon study conducted five years after the adoption of voting by mail statewide showed that 80 percent of voters across the political spectrum prefer it to voting at polling places. It’s a system that answers the needs of Americans who lead increasingly busy, complex lives, balancing many work and family responsibilities.

When will the rest of the states catch the clue bus and ask their citizens whether they would like to have a Vote by Mail system? I believe that most Americans would go for it. Why don’t more state legislators put this initiative up for a vote by their citizens? It ain’t brain surgery. Just do it.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and be safe out there. And don’t forget to remember all of the men and women in our Armed Services who will not be home for Thanksgiving … especially the ones who have paid the ultimate price with the giving of their life … Remember the Fallen Heros. Thank all of them for serving our country and for protecting our freedoms and way of life.

Richard


Where did all the dads go that showed their kids how to do all the little things on a car? Like check the oil, the air in the tires, changing a flat, etc. To look around at all the cars running around, it doesn’t appear anyone keeps a tire pressure gauge in their glovebox any longer. I don’t know about you, but my dad taught us to keep the correct air pressure in our car’s tires. And I still do it today. And winter coming on, everyone needs to check the air pressure in their tires. It ain’t brain surgery.

I can’t say this any better than the following from the Car Care Council website on proper tire inflation:

Description: Proper tire inflation pressure is the specified air pressure given by a carmaker for a certain tire on a specific vehicle. This pressure specification should not be confused with a tire’s maximum pressure, which is usually listed on the tire’s sidewall. Some vehicles may specify different pressures for the front tires and the rear tires.

Purpose: Correct inflation pressure is critical for good fuel economy, safety, maximum tire life, and proper vehicle handling performance.     

Maintenance Tips/Suggestions: For the small amount of time it takes, checking tire inflation at least once a month is one of the best investments you can make to get the maximum life out of your tires. Proper inflation can also improve gas mileage by more than 3%, when maintained regularly. Keep this in mind: Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.4 percent for every 1 psi (pounds per square inch) drop in pressure of all four tires. You may want to check your tires more often during the winter months. Tires will lose about 1 psi of pressure for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit of temperature drop.

Keep an accurate tire pressure gauge in your car’s glove box (many gauges at “air stations” give false pressure readings) and check the tire pressure when the tires are cold. Never trust the appearance of a tire as a gauge for inflation. A tire could be 10 psi low on pressure and not appear to be low on air. Use the recommended inflation pressure listed in your vehicle’s owner’s manual or on the inflation sticker found on the driver’s door jamb. While you’re at it, don’t forget to check the spare. There’s nothing more annoying than a flat spare when you have a flat tire.  

Look, Christmas and the holiday gift giving season is right around the corner. Forget all the cutesy stuff and go for practical. Get the ones you love who drive a tire pressure gauge and teach them how to use it and prepare them a schedule to remember to check their tire pressure on a regular basis. It might just save their life and will save on gas and wear and tear on that expensive vehicle in the driveway. It ain’t brian surgery.

Have a great day!

Richard


This post is about one of those instances in your life that happens in about 3 seconds but it takes about 15 minutes for you to tell it. I promise, I won’t take 15 minutes.  This is about my desire to bring back vehicle inspections for all cars. You see, in GA, they did away with car inspections years ago and gave into the tree huggers and now we just do emissions inspections. If we still had car inspections – you know, make sure crap doesn’t fall off of your car – I wouldn’t be writing about this incident.

My wife and I carpool to work. I travel a total of about 15 miles – mostly on I-75 north from my home in west mid-town. Her office is about halfway to my office. About 4 miles into the trip, cruising along at 70 MPH in the far right lane, a pickup truck in the next left lane about 50 feet ahead runs over something with his tire. It shoots out into my lane about 40 feet in front of us.

First thought – a piece of wood, I can survive hitting it. In a flash, a nano-second, I see sparks coming off of this object. Definitely not wood – this is something metal … not a good thing. Nano-seconds later, this metal thing hits my car – I’m thinking it has gone under the carriage and will certainly punch a hole in an oil pan or tear up something vital to the vehicle. Wrong.  It hit the bumper.

Nano-seconds later, this thing has shot out again to about 40 feet  in front of me. My mind is saying, “What the hell is this thing – it’s alive!” It’s in the air again. It bounced off the pavement like a spring. Brain computes … “Damn, it’s a freaking shock absorber.” Headed dead center for my car and at a much higher elevation – like eye level.

Nano-seconds later, I make an evasive move to the emergency lane to try to avoid hitting this flying shock absorber. Too late. Impact. Like someone had shot this thing at us like an arrow. One end of this flying shock absorber nailed the windshield right in my vision. Almost made it all the way through The inner layer of the glass sprayed all over my lap. The impact noise was deafening. Where it ended up I have no clue. But the damage was done.

Thankfully, my wife and I were fine – just a bit shooken up. I’m out $635.07 for a new windshield – I have a $1000 deductible on my old ’94 beemer. By the time I dropped off my wife a couple of miles down the road, we had had time to compose ourselves and catch our breathe. I had a very small crack about where this flying shock absorber hit the windshield, I had planned to have a service do the small repair to keep it from spreading. As we exited the freeway to her office, sitting at a traffic signal, I said, “Well, we don’t have to worry about fixing that crack any longer.” We both had a pretty good laugh.

What ticks me off is that I was almost killed by a damn flying shock absorber. A shock absorber just fell off someone’s car. Just ain’t right. If I’d been killed, at least I know I would have been breathing clean air as I took my last breathe, thanks to the idiots who did away with the inspection process.

Requiring people who get behind the wheel of tons of steel to keep them in good working order ain’t brain surgery. Bring back vehicle inspections.

Have a great weekend.

Richard


Atlanta is a big city with lots of traffic and gridlock. “Rush Hour” is pratically all day. Drivers in Atlanta wreck their cars a lot. This post is about some ways to decrease your odds of having a wreck. It falls into the larger category of Transportation.

Sunglasses are a pretty simple item. Wearing sunglasses while driving in the sunlight oughta be a law. Why folks don’t wear sunglasses while driving in the sun is beyond our logical reasoning. Sunglasses cut the glare. Glare causes blind spots. Blind spots cause wrecks. Pretty simple. It ain’t brain surgery. If sunglasses improve your vision while driving in the sunlight, why doesn’t everyone own a pair and use them why driving? Good question.

While we’re talking about seeing better while driving. Do your own unscientific survey the next time you head into work. Check the windshields of the drivers around you and notice how dirty and filthy they are. No wonder so many people have wrecks. Clean the damn windsheild every now and then. It takes, what, 3 minutes? Keep some Windex and paper towels in your car trunk – lord knows, gas stations don’t keep window cleaning equipment at the pumps any longer. And when we say clean the windshield, we mean clean both the inside and outside.

Most times it’s the small things that make a big difference. Nationwide, the average collision repair invoice is about $2200 – plus all the hassels. Spend a little money on a good pair of sunglasses (and use them) and keep your windshield and car windows clean. Your life while driving will better, you’ll be a safer driver, and you just might avoid an accident or save your life or someone elses (maybe ours).

It ain’t brain surgery. Until next time.

Richard & Terry