When is the last time you read the Georgia Driver’s License Manual?

Of course, in my opinion, we should have in place a system where folks are re-tested every few years. The laws are *always* changing – those legislators have to justify their existence somehow – and are you really sure you know what the current thinking is on the correct way to handle a driving situation?

Even if your approach *is* the best, if it is unexpected as far as the other drivers are concerned then it is *you* who are the hazard.

I just finished reviewing the 2010 Driver’s license manual and got 100% on this (rather simple) test. I challenge you to do the same.

What do you do when a schoolbus has its amber lights flashing? What about its red lights? On a divided highway? I see people doing the wrong thing all the time, they are endangering EVERYBODY’s lives.

Posted under General, Opinions

This post was written by Marc
on July 5, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Who do you love to deal with, and who do you not?

When people speak about “corporate culture” it often seems like such an esoteric term.

But there is a certain reality to the way some companies deal with you that appears to be the manifestation of that esotery.

For instance, when I deal with Amazon.com or Sears or Wendy’s I get the sense that I’m getting something of a fair value for what I am paying and that the retailer is legitimately concerned that my experience is a satisfying one. They certainly clear a profit, but their focus seems to be much more on the transaction, satisfaction and their reputation than it is on the “making a buck” aspect of it. Hence, pretty much every time I deal with these businesses I come away satisfied that I have most likely received very good value for my money – at least as far as legitimate retail sales go.
Other business I favor include:
Applebees
Affordable Electric
Roto Router
Flushmate
Vonage
…There are many others that don’t come to mind immediately

On the other hand, there are some institutions out there who seem solely focused on separating you from as much money as possible for whatever product or service they provide. Every single transaction with them leaves me feeling … well … a little dirty if not abused. These are the companies that will send you marketing fliers advertising great promotional savings and nowhere can you find what the post-promotional price will be. Their rate increases manage to deftly outpace inflation and you can be sure are driven much more by what the market will bear than value for service. Every mailing I receive from these companies I scrutinize because I know I will find some new charge or limitation on my services that I need to be wary of.

Hence I try to avoid doing business with them as much as possible. If I’m forced to work with them I keep my eyes open for the first opportunity that I can move away to someone I trust more or someone I don’t even know at all since there is a chance they may be better.

The bad boys in this list for me include:
Ticketmaster – Not only can I never get the seats I want, but the final price I pay is always well above the actual seat price.
Comcast – They will eke every red cent they possibly can out of you for any service you have with them.
Bank of America – I briefly held a bank account and credit card with them until I realized that they LIVE to charge service fees for every possible interaction.
AT&T – Caps on internet service. Plus the fact that my worth to them as a customer dissolved when uverse was introduced.
Hooters – Seemed to pioneer the overpriced soft drink. I pay full price for a plate of tenders and fries cost extra? Really?
SprintPCS – I’m paying $10/month/phone for this mythical 4G service that I’ve seen maybe 5 times since I started with them. I have no choice due to the phone I’ve selected.
All Pizza delivery companies that charge “Delivery Fee” yet don’t give it to their delivery people – if any of the ones I deal with would drop that stupid fee, I’d use them excusively.
DirecTV – Have to keep calling them to get the price down to something reasonable, if you sign up for automatic payment, they draft the money immediately upon producing the bill and then tell you that the bill is for zero dollars. Weird.

There are, of course many, many others that hover somewhere in between which is to be expected. They walk that line between being inoffensive and just meeting expectations. I would say it’s a good thing that so many are in this middle ground. Of course there will always be exceptions where folks have bad interactions with a retailer on occasion. Maybe there was a computer glitch or maybe some manager was having a bad day, but if your day in and day out interactions are uneventful, I still score that as a win.

But there is true pleasure to be gained from dealing with a company or even an individual between whom an exchange will happen where both parties feel that they have received real value from their interaction.

Who are the good boys and the bad boys on your list? Who do you deal with where you just feel good and confident that you will get what you paid for?

Conversely, who do you deal with that always leaves you feeling kinda gross?

Posted under Opinions, Retail Experiences

This post was written by Marc
on July 1, 2011 at 3:14 pm