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All For The Love Of Money

I have been very saddened these last few days following the massacre in Newtown Connecticut as have many the world over.  Yet another senseless killing, and this time involving not only innocent people, but little defenseless children by yet another mentally unstable person who just happened to have free access to high-powered war intended weaponry.

As I have shared in a previous post “Guard Your Mind”, I believe that it is the person who pulls the trigger that does the  killing and not the gun.  However, I will state here and now that I am in no way in favor of having high-powered assault weaponry readily available on the market. It has NOTHING to do WHATSOEVER with the 2nd amendment and everything to do with those who make a living off of this ignorance and who do NOT have your best interest in consideration but rather their own.

There is a LOT of money changing hands with the sales of arms and for that reason the NRA and Gun Owners Of America lead by Larry Pratt who are very well-financed to launch their campaigns.  Their argument is that you should stand up for your 2nd amendment rights in the lame attempt to convince you that you will lose that right if ANY type of arms are banned.  this is a total lie, and the only ones that will be hurt by this are their employers. All for the love of money, they are willing to lay down your life for it!

It is a sad fact that many of the decisions that are made, much of the action that is either taken, or not taken is thanks to that love of money and not for your best interests that some would like to have you believe.  Take planned obsolescence for example:  There are a great majority of products that are purposely built to NOT last, so that you will have to re-buy them once they have been consumed which otherwise could be built to last. The argument with this is to create and maintain jobs, where are they? The FDA closes their eyes to harmful Genetically Modified Foods that are to blame in large part to the problem of obesity and other health related illnesses in the United States, but since they are paid well to pass these foods, they do so, again not with your best interest in mind.  All for the love of money! The list could go on and on!

Larry Pratt made a point on Piers Morgan last night, it was evil that killed these children and not the gun.  I believe he is right and therefore I retain that he is equally to blame for being evil by seeking his own interest group’s interests rather than that of the overall population.  and once again……All for the love of money!

Thanksgiving-A Time To Come Together!

As I have shared in previous posts, I love Thanksgiving day!  I love the time of year, I love the meaning of Thanksgiving, the reminder that it gives us of how we should stop, take some time to reflect on what we do have, instead of the constant dwelling on what we don’t have!

As with every holiday, there is always some way that the commercial world would like to “cash in on” the occasion to help stimulate the economy.  This can be a good thing, but on the other had, it can be a real distraction to the true meaning and spirit of the occasion.  This year the traditional “Black Friday” has been planned to take place earlier than ever and it has caused no end of debate.  I would tend to agree with all those who might oppose it for the simple fact that, Thanksgiving is a time for the average American to pull away for the hustle and bustle of everyday life and enjoy each other’s company.

Black Friday is OK and it may have its place, but let’s not forget that it is black Friday and NOT black Thanksgiving day. I say, let’s leave Thanksgiving with all of it its color and relaxation and joy and not allow the dark, crazy and frenetic spirit of shopping invade practically the only day we have to just take it easy! Let the store clerks take some time off as well with their families, instead of having to partake on potentially the most hectic day of the year causing their Turkey to go down sideways contributing to even greater healthcare problems. Commercialism, back off!

Whoever came up with this great idea should be heavily fined and constrained to house arrest! Ha!  Black Friday is insane enough as is without having it bleed over on yet another day.

With this, I wish you all a wonderful and relaxed Thanksgiving day with your loved ones and family!  What are your thoughts?

Shades of Grey

Black and white are truly decisive colors that can be interesting at times, and even at other times necessary.  But there is nothing that truly brings out the beauty and truth in life than the many shades of grey.  There are things that are definitely black or white, but if you were to paint everything over with just black or white, you would lose so many beautiful and amazing details that you could otherwise notice and that might help you to have a better perspective should you add a bit of grey!

Too many of us tend to make that very mistake when judging a situation, or when arriving to a decision.  We apply the black or white rule and leave out the various shades of grey.  If you go into any situation with a bucket of just black or white you risk missing out on a lot of beautiful details that could make the overall picture be so much more clear and relatable.

Take politics for example.  There are too many people who are stuck on either red or blue when making a choice or decision.  The white in the States often gets forgotten or ignored and therefore those who are so busy throwing their buckets  of either blue or red on everything can totally miss the whole point of what building a true democracy is really like, they are too busy trying to tear down or paint over the other color.

Life, love, relationships, politics, business, religion, and in fact everything has many different shades of grey.  If you want to make it in any one thing, take your nose out of your paint bucket, then take a few steps back and the look at the canvas.  As you focus on things with your  new perspective, you might find that adding those shades of grey will complete your masterpiece, better your life and help you grow close the world around you!

Do you add shades of grey to your pictures? Or are you stuck with trying paint them all over with black or white?

Your Business Ethics Can Make or Break You!

It is so very important, and now even more than ever, to assure that your business focuses on how you treat and serve your customers.  Working with people is never easy, in any line of business you deal with people and people can be pretty hard to please.  It can be daunting if you feel you have to please every single person as this is a near impossible task, but you need to at the very least show that you genuinely care about them.  When people feel that you care and you give them their deserved attention, they will most likely return again to you in their time of need.

Some businesses and even tourist spots, due to either their “budget deals” or great geographical positions can tend to over look this important element when dealing with people and adopt the wrong attitude of “lose some gain others”.  Some examples of this attitude are what we recently experienced with UK-based budget airlines EasyJet that uses certain policies they have to then take advantage of their customers by having them pay a second ticket when there is the slightest “mistake”.  Some budget deals are simply too expensive of a bargain to afford, but their overall attitude is that once you have gone another one will step up. When contacting their customer service we were shocked to see how, rather than attempting to solve our problem they went to great lengths to justify how their personnel responded, and this is without knowing what had happened to us at all. You can read the complete story here.

Another example of what I am talking about is Venice, Italy.  I live in Italy and when friends come to visit they of course want to go and see Venice.  I cringe with the thought of going there as it has become one of the most exhausting and negative tourist experiences ever. Don’t get me wrong, it is a beautiful city and it has its majestic touch, but it just happens to be full of Venetians!  The residents there see people come and go all year round and know that people will just keep on passing through to take in the sights and art, and so they tend to treat people very rudely without a second thought.  You get the feeling right away that they could truly care less about you.

Most of us don’t like the feeling of being considered of little importance when making a purchasing decision.  It is more like that if you are treated poorly that you will not go back to be mistreated a second time.  It is so important that you make it a point as a business to have a customer service that acts as a back up for those who have to deal with people on the front lines day in and day out which is never an easy job.  Customer care has to have the best interest of the customer at heart regardless of how difficult they may be to please in order to assure a return.

There are a number of online businesses that are very good at this as I mentioned Amazon.com, Zapos, The Apple Store and will bend over backwards to assist you when you have a question.  This treatment makes you want to go back and buy again and again.  I recently came across a wonderful and easy to use online travel site that is UK-based called Thomson.  If you are traveling out of the UK you can find some of the most amazing travel and holiday deals and the service is well-rounded and upfront and honest.  Such sites that give you, not only great savings, but a good and friendly service as well as the assurance that you will not be taken advantage of by hidden fees and dishonest business practices.

If you are planning on beginning any business at all, the most important element you must have is integrity and honesty to make every customer feel as though they are the most important person on earth, because they are.  Without customers you will never make it, so treat them with the respect that they need and deserve.

 

EasyJet Strands 3 Young Female Passengers-Customer Care Could Care Less

I am a customer care advocate and a firm believer that “when you give, you will then receive” as I wrote about in a previous article “Why I Love Amazon.com”.  I firmly believe that, particularly in todays economical climate, you have to do all that is in your power to assure that your customers are happy and feel cared for so that they will come back to you in their time of need.  It takes special care to build a customer base, and even more care to maintain it!  There are a number of great examples like Amazon.com, Tony Hsieh’s Zapos, and even Apple Computer that really make you feel secure in their service.  There will always be mistakes made, but then that is the reason you need a Customer Care service that can, in a sense, play as a back up to those who may have had a rough day and who may make mistakes.  Customer Care should be there to listen to you with great patience and do all that is in their power to right a wrong.  However, I recently had an experience that hit close to home that truly takes the cake!  British based budget airlines EasyJet denied boarding to my three little ladies without any assistance, left them to fend for themselves and even made them buy 3 new tickets when two of them actually had perfectly valid tickets.

I naturally blew a fuse when told the story and encouraged my daughter to write to customer care to ask for the refund of the tickets, but was amazed (and shocked) by the letters that she received in response, which were basically form letters letting her know how they were “sorry for the inconvenience caused”, but that there would be no refund.  They went on to justify the actions of their Rome ground crew.  Well, the refund will eventually come as thank God there does exist Government European Union Aviation Laws and so I am not so worried about this.  I am more worried that there should exist a company that would think that they can treat human beings, and strand 3 girls in this way and then try to justify doing so!  Here is their story:

While traveling recently in Italy from Milan to Rome my daughters ages 27 and 16 and granddaughter 2 years old had a rather unpleasant experience while boarding their return flight back to Milan after their visit in Rome.  Their outbound flight went smooth without any hitches. They were at the boarding gate for their inbound flight in plenty of time to board and were called for priority boarding since they were traveling with a child. After having checked in on their way into the aircraft another agent calls them back to ask why they had only two tickets.  My daughter explained that her daughter was 2 years old and that she was included on her ticket.  They were then simply asked to “step aside”, and so they took a seat. When no one came back to communicate with her, she then asked what she should do and was told that a supervisor would be coming.  Once the Supervisor showed up, she basically ignored them and proceeded to finish the check in and boarding of the flight and they closed the gate! They had no idea that they were going to have to miss the flight, no option was given my 16 year daughter to take that flight, they were fully trusting that the crew had their best interest in mind. But, sad to say this was not the case!

When my daughter decided to get up and ask this supervisor when they would be allowed to board the plane she was told that they had “missed the flight” due to the fact that my granddaughter was OVER two years old.  Here you have a confused lady with a child and her younger sister stranded at the airport in Rome, and they have what are two “valid” tickets and a child that is now found to be too old for the ticket that she purchased.  The lady basically left her there and went on about her business elsewhere!

They then go down stairs to the information desk and ask what to do.  The poor fellow there, not knowing the whole story, told them they had to pay 100 Euros per passenger for having “missed their flight”!  She then explained that they had been there in plenty of time to get the flight but the reason they were not allowed to board was due to the child’s age.  They were then told that they would have to wait 2 days for seats and ended up having to buy all three tickets AGAIN! The price for these tickets was the equivalent of what they had originally spent on a round trip fare! Even if they had to be re-booked, it was annoying enough but acceptable, but to pay out money for all three tickets a second time at doupble the price, that is in any way you look at it, dishonest business practice!

 

One employee, and the only one that really deserves to hold his position, offered to call the HQ or someone “higher up” to see if he could honor their existing tickets. Well, sad to say, the problem obviously seems to be more of a company cancer, this “higher up” refused to honor the tickets, and in confidence said, as they were told, (and I quote) “if they don’t like the way they are being handled then they can fly with another airlines!” OMG! Seems this “gent” might be better off working for another airlines (or in the long unemployment line)!

I encouraged my daughter to write their Customer Care service which is posted online, as certainly (I thought) they would take care of this problem supervisor and refund her second tickets. After my daughter received two answers basically telling her that she could not get her money back, I had enough and wrote them myself suggesting alternative ideas of how this could have been handled.  Sad to say, it seems that this company has an overall policy to “not care” and limited vocabulary “sorry for the inconvenience caused”. My daughters are left to claim their passenger rights under CAA European law under 261/2004 which will take its time, but it is shameful that it would have to come to this.  I am not as worried about the refund as much as I am with how they treat their customers and how other young mothers and potentially single mothers could be stranded that way without any place to go! However more should be done to assure that EasyJet not take advantage of people, if you have had bad experiences with EasyJet, write me a note as there are things that can be done to rectify and take action.

I realize that there are thousands of persons who have had no problem with this airlines, they got through without a hitch, but the very fact that this is a situation that will most likely be repeated to single moms, elderly, and people who don’t tend to go digging into the “rules and regulations” pages for the fine print and become victimized and taken advantage of, it is scary.  There are so very many unemployed airline workers who had to be laid off due to the lack of business in the airline industry, it seems that it would be necessary for EasyJet to “clean house” and call in some of these possibly more qualified unemployed people who might actually care for their customers, otherwise it would be better, in my opinion, should this be the way they “care” for their customers, that they the close up shop entirely.

I don’t know about you, but as for me and my family, we will never try to “save” using EasyJet ever again.  It is a far too expensive of a “bargain”! I appreciate the many readers who have passed through reading this, and have since seen that this is just one tiny case of thousands.  It has become more apparent to me that by acting as they have with many of you who have complained via Facebook on their site that EasyJet used this lack of transparency to earn additional money by forcing additional ticket purchases.  This is a dishonest business practice and punishable by law. It is important to take action against this, I look forward to hearing from you! Thank you for sharing, retweeting, and posting!  Keep up the campaign!

Guard Your Mind!

The recent tragedy at the Cinema 16 in Aurora Colorado brings us back to the ever so controversial and questionable policies in regards to gun control in the United States.  It truly breaks my heart to read of such tragedy… lives devastated, hopes and dreams broken, families having to endure something that they never dreamed or thought possible.

I would like to state here that I am not an arms advocate or lobbyist by any means.  I am torn by the issue and I could say that I am in the middle road when it comes to the right to bare arms.  I live in Italy where there does exist a pretty rigid control on arms and laws that do not allow the citizens to protect themselves to the point that should you attempt to do so, you would most likely be charged yourself with a crime.  The law of the land goes on to protect the aggressor rather than the actual victim, and I am most certainly not in agreement with this. It is so much so here that Italy has become known as “the garden of delinquency” and people come from other states to engage in lawless activities, and sad to say they get away with it most of the time with little more than a “slap on the hand”.

I am however in total disagreement to the fact that assault rifles are legally obtainable as they most certainly do not fall into the category of a hunting rifle or a hand gun for self-defense. But at the end of the day, when all has been said and done, it was not the gun that shot these innocent people, it was a person who used the gun to kill.  People kill people, persons who have allowed themselves to be emotionally influenced be it by drugs, by jealousies, by hatred, by not being able to cope with their own reality.

We have so very many things that we could debate and say are the culprit to this type of incident, and of course the issue that comes out each and every time is “where was God in all of this”.  As I have stated in a previous post, God is not here to make decisions for us, He has given us the majesty of choice, and it is totally up to us to do good, bad, or to be indifferent and then we will find ourselves living with the circumstances.

What comes to me once again is the importance of guarding my mind and keeping myself in subjection.  We are so self-righteous when we pride ourselves in the fact that we live in the “free-world”.  Well, the free world has its down side too.  The free world is full of people, people who are all vulnerable to falling to temptation, to hate, to jealousy, to bitterness, to violence and yes sad to say to total insanity which is capable to causing grief to an entire community such as Aurora, Colorado.

When we see our brother sister, son, daughter, friend or anyone for that matter goes through something that could cause them to go off the deep end in their lives, and we do nothing to help, and by help I include  seeking professional help, and even in some cases legal action, we too are then just as guilty as the one who pulls the trigger!  There is a saying that goes, evil abounds when good men do nothing!  Once something happens such as did with of James Holmes, everyone is out to try to play the blame-game.  James Holmes most sadly made some very bad choices.  James Holmes personally allowed himself to be influenced in one way or the other by an illness or harboring hatred or some things that led to him losing his mind.

I’ll end this by saying that my heart goes out to each and everyone who was hurt by his actions, by his decision and I pray that justice will be swift and will not drag on and cause further pain.  And I will urge you who read this to guard your mind! We are all susceptible to evil, it is your choice to give in, or resist!

Take The Time!

We live in a pretty demanding world full of a million distractions and things to keep us pretty busy.  Some of the things are important and demand our attention, others are less important, and then there are the time wasters that suck the life out of you should you allow them to.

This gadget happy, materialistic environment that calls out to us continually to occupy our minds with thoughts and things that are “nice” and “handy” can tend to distract us from the pure simple and natural joys of living, that for some have gone all but lost in the shuffle.  All of these great, new and wonderful commodities are useful tools that can help us accomplish more.  They can bring us temporary fulfillment and happiness because they make our life easier.  But they will never bring us the lasting happiness that  feeds our inner soul and brings us back to the simple childlike joys of yesteryear.

I was thinking about this the other day as I took some off-time from the frantic busy life-style that I now call my “normal”.  This day  I took the time to enjoy the beauty of a flower, watch the sunset and gaze at the stars in the sky brought me feelings of appreciation for my family and loved ones as I remembered moments that I had spent with each one.  That is a joy that lasts on forever.

If you hope to have a great time, put aside all of the distractions, be it work, play gadgets or toys and take the time to feel that inner-peace and joy you experienced as a child. Learn to be happy with the moment, don’t allow yourself to be dependent on “things”.  They are but tools that we can use, just don’t allow them to use you!

Do you take the time?

When Does Wisdom Kick In?

Life is a great teacher as we never really ever stop learning from our experiences in life.  There is a quote that goes: “A wise man learns from the mistakes of others, a fool learns from his own mistakes”  I had heard a paraphrased version of this same quote and so I went looking for it online as I actually thought that it went like this: “A wise man learns from his own mistakes, but an even wiser man learns from the mistakes of others”  For the longest time this is how I would quote this and I would add that the world is full of simply “wise people” and not so many “wiser ones”, as we tend to have to learn things through our own experience.

I would agree that if we are really smart, we will the word of those who have had certain experiences and learn to avoid the same mistakes through their testimony.  But unfortunately it just doesn’t seem to go this way most of the time.  Our child-like curiosity can get the best of us and we will just have to see for ourselves if it will work out or not (whatever it may be). This why it is said that experience is the best teacher, in fact, if you run into a brick wall you usually try to go a different way the next time around. ( Notice that I said usually.)

While growing up it seems to be innate to not take people’s word for things and to have a buying desire to prove other’s wrong, especially if they assert authority over us. But then, as time goes on, you start to figure that it might have been a lot better if you had paid attention to the teacher who had “been there and done that” in order to save yourself a lot of time and sometimes grief.  There can tend to linger on a certain pride that battles with having to give in and finally say “uncle” and accept that someone else just might know what they are saying. Weird, but we more often than not want to be right, sometimes even when we are wrong.

I believe that wisdom shines its light on us when we finally realize that we are not actually the “all-in-all” and that we need to pay attention to others on certain topics.  It is wonderful that we can have such a vast array of talent and intelligence around us from whom to draw.  We just need to use this and allow wisdom to “kick in”.

Live Each Day As If It Were Your Last!

“Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways.”  ~Stephen VincentBenét

I guess we really don’t appreciate things until they are long gone!  We live our lives as if we will be here forever, and then such as in Italy recently, an earthquake strikes or a natural disaster and it your whole life has changed, or in some cases it has ended!  As long as you read about news from a far land you can get a false sense of security, but when it happens in your back yard, reality strikes! This could be you!

A time of reflection is healthy and often occurs when something devastating happens just around the corner.  But it would be wise to have this “reflection” each and every day!  Just think, what if you didn’t show just how much you appreciated your wife/husband/child or friend yesterday, and you wake up to find that they are missing through an accident or disaster? We often think of where we have failed so miserably in times such as these, but in the hustle and bustle of the day, we can tend to largely ignore or take for granted those we live and work with.

We would be better off living as though today was our last.  Be there for others, show appreciation, give a hug, be kind because tomorrow may never come for them, or even for you.  This is a reality that we often choose to ignore since it is an unpleasant thought, but the world would be a better place if we all had this mindset!  –Carpe Diem