A Money Coach in Canada

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OK, this video from the Washington Post un-nerved me entirely.

The written journalist piece that originally accompanied the video said he’s usually pretty calm, cool collected.

Not so much, this day.

ARE WE GOING DOWN?

2462011478_c0e4e5d3451.jpgSome of you may need kleenex. This is a story of the best of the business world.  It’s easy to forget that big businesses can make positive change and be a Good Thing in this old world of ours.

Consider this story. Levi Strauss got called out for one of the worst PR nightmares possible: two of their factories in Bangladesh were filled with child-labourers. They had not done full diligence in checking their contacting sources.

They were caught in an impossible dilemma.

Continuing to use the child-labourers would be unconscionable.

But “firing” them all would send them into equally horrific lives of prostitution and poverty, likely pulling down their families with them.

Levi Strauss did the entirely unexpected.

They continued paying the children their wages … but sent them to school instead. The children had their positions held for them, if they still wanted them, upon graduation.

Not many people know this story. It deserves telling. At a time when so many corporations do things that are horribly wrong, sometimes, a corporation steps up and responds courageously in a way that rights the wrongs.

I don’t know about you, but Levi’s is now my brand of choice. And the beauty is, I honestly don’t think they made their decision based on this potential outcome. If they did, more of us would know the story.

Photo Credit: achi

Readers:  do you know of any other stories of corporations doing The Right Thing?  (god, I hope so.)

2443011682_9e83383c15_o.jpg

Photo Credit: Madaboutasia

Maclean’s Magazine recently published an issue with the headline:

LIFE AT $200 A BARREL.
You won’t be able to eat, travel or live as you do now.
Say goodbye to the age of plenty.

And it occurred to me: I don’t really believe it.

It hasn’t

sunk

in.

I have the luxury of walking to work, and I gave up my car a number of years ago, so I’m not as in touch with rising oil/gas prices as those of you who commute.

But this goes a lot further than simply convincing us to use public transit instead of our cars.

Shipping costs have increased by 72%.  What are the ramifications?

Consider your bananas. Your sugar. Your coffee.

I don’t know the micro-economics, but I’m guessing a big part of that cost is the transportation. Are you prepared to pay nearly double, soon, for these goods?

Consider your getaways and vacation/christmas travel to friends and family. Westjet now charges an additional $20 – $45 each way to cover their rising costs. AirCanada charges between $40 – $120. What will it be by next December?

The council of a suburb in Melbourne, Australia, is already planning how they will handle the lifestyle changes –

  • kids moving out of the ‘burbs back into mom and dad’s downtown home, to avoid the commute
  • increased demand for bike and pedestrian paths
  • increased mental health issues caused by isolation

Yikes.

Readers, what’s your opinion: Do you believe oil prices will continue to skyrocket? Do you foresee that it will cause dramatic lifestyle/consumption changes for all of us? Have you personally experienced any impact yet?

Like many of us, I’m still sorting through what role mainstream media plays in this new web 2.0 world.

I don’t watch tv anymore, really. YouTube and viddler have my attention now.

I haven’t cancelled my subscription to National Post (and here you thought I was entirely lefty. surprise!) but I rarely read it – I prefer grabbing headlines off twitter and reading the selected articles.

But here’s a purpose it does serve for me. I sometimes look to mainstream media to be the expert, sort through it all, and provide the most worthy content. CBC still does that (although that is changing).

So here’s the story.

Have you ever had a piece of music just reach out and grab you? This past weekend, Howard Dyck on cbc aired stunning music by a rather obscure composer named Zelenka: I had to have it.

Alas! a google search yielded little, itunes came up empty and I lost all hope when cbc pointed out that the recording “was not available commercially”.

WAILING & GNASHING OF TEETH! (yes, over a piece of classical music)

Enter web 2.0.

Twitter

I cried out my pain on twitter, and my cry was answered by a woman in Nebraska (named Barb, to be specific) who actually knew of Zelenka! Barb pointed me to a recording of the piece on youtube (see below). Now I strongly suspect the recording is under copywrite and should not be posted on youtube! But I listened anyways, and listened again and again until my addiction was complete.

Facebook

I also cried out my fate – having fallen in love only to discover the music was UnAvailable (anyone who can relate?) – on facebook. Enter my buddy Clive who responded with a link to Amazon with several second hand recordings.

GREAT REJOICING!

e-mail

And for the icing on the cake, David (see link above re: cbc changing) e-mailed me with a link to a place I could order the score.

My point is simply this. Mainstream media may yet serve us all well, if it can figure out how to draw our attention to the quality stuff (as opposed to the quantity of crap, so ably poked at by Morning Brew). And if it weren’t for the exposure it received (illicitly?) on YouTube, I may well have forgotten about it. As it turned out, I am going to purchase the recording, for sure, and likely the score. Perhaps the sky isn’t falling. Perhaps this brave new world of new business models may result in wins for everyone.

Readers: have you ever started out with errrrr, grey-area consumption of something that resulted in a purchase?

fyi – here is the piece that caught my attention. It’s just over 2 minutes, it grabs you, and doesn’t let you go til it’s done.

981211829_567cf171a7_m.jpgRogers gave him a bill for over $5,000. He’s a colleague of mine, and as a point of interest, in the IT dep’t.

They claimed he’d left his cel phone downloading data and racked up $5K in a month.

“No Way,” he said, “I’m not that stupid”.

But it was all his fault, said the Rogers rep. He must have left it downloading something overnight. Maybe bittorrent?

“Uh, no. I’m in the IT field. I wouldn’t do something like that.”

Well, if he clearly read his Term of Agreement (editors note: have you ever? I mean, really read, the terms of agreement on your cel plan?) he would have known he’d be responsible under all circumstances.

Several noisy phone calls later (you can just guess how those calls went, I bet), after he pointed out that even if he cancelled his contract and if they went after him, they’d never get $5K out of him (and perhaps their PR dep’t realized the optics of that just wouldn’t look good in the press), they agreed to put him on a new plan with only a $50 fee.

He agreed, although still feeling cheated — he remains positive it was a billing error — but they had him by the you-know-whats so this seemed the path of least resistence and he succumbed. Score 1 for the Big Guys, -$50 for a decent dude who probably got screwed.

My own experience with Rogers was less than stellar. I got a home phone plan from Sprint who got bought out by Fido who got bought out by Rogers. Then Rogers changed its System, and the System started billing me twice a month even though I only had one phone and one plan. When I called, the rep’s pointed out that the System had been changed and was causing problems and their wasn’t anything they could do.

“Um, well can you at least get the System to stop double-billing me?” Turns out, honest to goodness, they couldn’t.

So I cancelled my plan (I wasn’t locked in at least) and I swear to you it took over 7 calls and 5 hand-written letters before they stopped billing me for services I wasn’t receiving – either of them! – for several months. I kept receiving bills after their VP sent me a nice note saying good-bye and welcoming me back should I change my mind. I kept receiving bills after someone called to enquire why I had left.

Finally some goddess-young-woman did Something to the System so I stopped getting billed.

Meanwhile, Rogers stock has gone from about $20 to nearly $50 in the past 3 years.

I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. Do you?

Is share value in inverse proportion to respect of customers?

photo credit D Norman. 

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