Monthly Archives: September 2008

The $2 question

Maybe I’m late to the game, but what’s up with all the $2 service charges these days?

Last night, I ordered pizza and had to pay $2.50 for it to be delivered. I was not pleased since I was already way overpaying (because what I want NEVER fits into one of the discount deals). I was told I didn’t have to tip if I really didn’t want to. Right. If I’m going to stiff someone, I don’t think it’ll be the person who knows my address.

Then I just spent a ridiculous two hours dealing with my car tags. Fine, blame me for waiting till the last day. But they don’t even supply chairs for those renewing anymore. Further, the clerk (when I finally made it to the front of the line) told me in no uncertain snippy terms that I had to pay $2 for the privilege of standing in said line.

Well, I think I’m going to start charging, too. OK, pizza place, if you still want my business, you’ll have to pay me $2 every time one of your coupons doesn’t apply to me.

Car tag rudeness? That’ll be $2.

Check-out clerk who opens a new line but doesn’t take the next person already in line? I’m gonna need $2.50 for that.

I get that things are expensive. They are for everyone. But I’m seriously so ticked off at the money — and I’m not even a cheapskate — and hassle I’ve had over the last day that I’m rethinking a few things. If I start tailoring my purchases, trust me, it’s going to take a lot more than $2 for a business to make up the difference.

The experts weigh in on bailout’s form

As much as it pains me, the clear tie between the fate of the U.S. economy and thus our businesses has a political component.

So in the wake of Monday’s bailout plan defeat, Politico has some interesting bipartisan commentary on possible solutions to the credit crisis.

Your thoughts?

Recent big bank mergers are like “shotgun weddings”

I found this in my e-mail inbox this morning, courtesy of MarketWatch and apparently sent minutes before the Citi-Wachovia merger was announced:

The credit crisis has forced together more shotgun weddings than in the families of Alaskan politicians. Now, consider the case of Wells Fargo and Wachovia.

But when I clicked on the link, this is what I got.

It’s interesting that the term “Alaskan” no longer appears in the commentary.

Wichita Aero Club revival?

The new Wichita Aero Club now under formation may be a revival of an organization by the same name, said Dave Franson of Franson Consulting and an organizer of the club. According to documents filed with the State, a group of that name was chartered in 1915.   The former group sponsored a ballooning event nearly a century ago, but Franson said no other references to the club could be found.

Today’s Wichita Aero Club is a way for people interested or involved in the aviation industry to network and discuss major industry issues and promote education. The group will host monthly luncheons, sponsor fund-raising events and  recognize prominent aviators with an annual trophy at an awards gala.

Whoo hoo WaMu?

As quickly as it happened it was over.

Or is it?

Federal regulators Thursday shut down Washington Mutual, the nation’s sixth largest financial institution by deposits.

The failure of WaMU is the largest bank failure in American history.

But as quickly as regulators from the Office of Thrift Supervision shut it down, J.P. MorganChase, the country’s second-largest bank by deposits, stepped in to buy WaMU’s assets.

Of the 14 bank failures this year — yes, we’re up to 14, now — this was the only regulatory bank takeover to happen on a Thursday.

The typical process involves regulators waiting until a bank closes under its normal operating hours on a Friday, giving them and the acquiring bank the weekend to do all the accounting work and migrate bank processes and systems over to the acquiring bank.

But not WaMU.

This quick takeover seems to demonstrate just how troubled this institution was.

And how its failure, without speedy action, could have disastrous consequences.

Health insurance and small business: more money, less coverage

Employer-based health insurance premiums are up 5 percent this year and have more than doubled since 1999 — a growth rate that far outpaces inflation as well as any increase in workers’ wages over the same period, according to an annual employer survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust, which polled nearly 2,000 employers.

The Miami Herald points out that the news is even more stressful for small employers.

Meanwhile, a growing number of workers at smaller firms are getting less coverage for their money as health plans with high deductibles and fewer benefits become more prevalent.

The portion of workers with single coverage who pay a deductible of at least $1,000 has jumped from 10 percent to 18 percent in the past two years. Among smaller firms with three to 199 employees, the rate has more than doubled from 16 percent to 35 percent.

Dropping the hammer on speculators

Lest you think your federal government is totally obsessed with golden parachutes for Wall Street execs, this Washington Post story reveals something that’s slipped under the radar: Federal investigators are checking into the events that produced a record $25 a barrel runup earlier this week in the price of a barrel of oil.

The irony of profiteers trying to cash in on a day that profiteers – in another market – came crashing to the ground shouldn’t be lost on any of us.

Golf anyone?

In Thursday’s edition of Business Today, we’ll debut a monthly page we’re calling Business Links. It will give us a chance to write about the place where business and golf come together.

Thursday’s story will feature Rod and Rick Nuckolls, who own and operate Willowbend Golf Club. The brothers will talk about how they are having to use every bit of their combined 65 years of golfing experience to keep the course at a top level.

We’ll also have some smaller features each month, including tips to improve your game from Wichita Country Club pro Cary Cozby.

So be sure to check it out and let me know what you think. And if you have some story ideas or an upcoming tournament you would like to have listed, please e-mail me at dloving@wichitaeagle.com or call me at 269-6706.

The freaky Rob Allison

I never realized how miraculous Rob Allison is until yesterday when I interviewed an economist named Kasey Jolly, who works for him at the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at WSU. Allison retired earlier this year from Bank of America and is running the center until it finds a permanent director.

I asked Kasey how the staff was doing in writing the forecast for its big outlook conference on Oct. 7 without Janet Harrah. Just as she mentioned Rob’s name, he almost literally materialized out of nowhere. He smiled, shook my hand, told me he appreciated me coming by and then was gone (he walked out). Freaky.

Hospitals warned not to make errors with anticoagulant medications

Anticoagulant medication errors are too prevalent and such a serious safety issue that the Joint Commission today is warning hospitals to pay better attention to how they administer this drug to patients.

Anticoagulants have been identified as one of the top five drug types associated with patient safety incidents in the United States, the commission says.

Among the causes for adverse events is incorrect dosages, food and drug interactions, and poor labeling that lends to confusion and error.

Says the commission:

Anticoagulant medication errors are such a serious patient safety issue that The Joint Commission addresses these types of errors in the 2008 National Patient Safety Goals, with full implementation of the requirements expected by January 1, 2009, for hospitals, outpatient clinics, home care and long term care organizations across the United States.

What credit card does Hank Paulson carry?

It’s Tuesday afternoon and we’re all admittedly punchy on the Eagle business desk.

So we were sitting around wading through all the Wall Street bailout news when my colleague Dan Voorhis mused aloud what kind of credit card Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson would need to snap up all those bad mortgages.

“What comes above platinum?” he wondered. “Black?”

I think black is probably appropriate, don’t you?

American Excess.

Don’t leave Wall Street without it.

Outsourcing to slow

The 2000s might might be called the “Outsourcing Decade” because of millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs that  went overseas. But with higher fuel costs, the cost of transportation is twice what it was a few years ago. That, and rising wages in China, are beginning to affect company’s decisions on whether to outsource to China or have the work done closer to home.