Powers of Observation?

Ran by the bank yesterday to resolve a small issue — the following is pretty much how my day went:

Me: Hi, My name is Bob S. I need help with a problem with my new debit card.

Willing But Clueless Employee (WBCE): Sure I can help you with that. What seems to be the problem?
(note this was at the reception area with absolutely NO place to sit down)

Me: Well, here are my new card and my old card; perhaps you might be able to see the problem:

WBCE: Well, the font is different.
WBCE: The card number is the same.
WBCE: The expiration date is different

Me: Perhaps you could check out the name?

WBCE: hmmm……………………………………………………….Oh, the name is different.

Me: Yeah, that’s my wife’s name on my card.

And then the real fun started. She had to call the proper person — and in the midst of loudly announcing my name, the issue I’m having; she whispers my account number. I’m the only non-employee in the bank at the time.

She runs through the process and generates a receipt for me to sign for my new card.

With my wife’s birthday listed on the receipt.

She runs through the process again and generates a receipt for me to sign for my new card.

With my wife’s name on the card.

Finally a manager came out, stood over her shoulder and walked her through the process again.  All the while I’m standing there trying to remind myself that even good banks can have marginal employees or people can have a bad day.

It wasn’t easy and I will neither confirm nor deny that colorful sentence enhancers’ may have been involved in the conversation I had with myself.


Just A Suggestion

….but if you talk about how civic minded your company is; requiring employees to turn over that HUGE* check for one day of Jury Duty may not send the message you think.

Maybe it’s just me but I’m a little confused over the message.





*$6 for the first day and jumping up to $36 per day after that.

Legalized Extortion?

I’m not sure what else I would call it.

He is also disappointed with what happened after he said he called Fort Worth police during an  overnight break-in at the business on West Berry Street that he was watching with remote surveillance cameras from his computer at home.

“They came back and said, ‘We can’t dispatch because we don’t have an updated alarm permit on file with you from the city, so we can’t send anybody,’” Reber said.

“They said the can’t come out because they didn’t have my $50 fee on file,” he said.

Fort Worth has a “verified alarm response program” which seems to be a fancy way of paying for police protection.

ALL permit holders are allowed three (3) false alarm calls, as well as two(2) panic/robbery calls before service fees are assessed.  If/when a customer exceeds three false alarms or 2 false, panic/robbery calls in a 12-month period, service fees are assessed according to the following schedule:

The following false alarm service fee structure went into effect November 1, 2005:
1-3 false alarm calls in 12 months  No charge
4-5 false alarm calls in 12 months  $50 each call
6-7 false alarm calls in 12 months  $75 each call
8 or more false alarm calls in 12 months $100 per call

You will be allowed 2 false, panic/robbery calls in a 12-month period before penalties apply.  After 2, a flat $60 fee will apply.
Reducing false alarm calls will improve overall public safety and service when there is a real emergency.  Officers will be able to respond to emergency calls more rapidly.

I can see fining people who phone in multiple false alarms or have their system set so they go off too often — but that should be after the fact; like a traffic ticket – break the law get a ticket.

Instead we have a department deciding not to respond to a crime in progress report because someone didn’t pony up the money up front….how is that not a legalized protection racket?

Please join the discussion.



And in other news….

…the economic and political scene in Greece and Spain is looking rough.

Rajoy has been resisting calls from influential domestic bankers and the leaders of France and Italy to move quickly to request assistance, but a series of events this week will drive him closer.

With protesters stepping up anti-austerity demonstrations, Rajoy presents more painful economic reforms and a tough 2013 budget on Thursday, aiming to persuade euro zone partners and investors that Spain is doing its deficit-cutting homework despite a recession and 25 percent unemployment.

A series of events — those are called riots in most of the rest of the world.And parts of Spain are talking about succession:


The government’s drive to rein in regional overspending as part of its austerity measures has prompted a flare-up in independence fervor in Catalonia, the wealthy northeastern region that generates one-fifth of Spain’s economic output.

Just as the euro zone crisis has strained relations between wealthier nations of the north and heavily indebted countries to the south, Spain’s crisis has aggravated tensions between the central government and its self-governing regions.

Catalonia is broke and needs a 5 billion euros bailout from the central state to meet debt payments this year, but Catalans are convinced they bear an unfairly large share of the country’s tax burden.

More than half say they want independence from Spain, the highest level ever.

Maybe there is something to being more like Europe — at least parts of it :)  (That was a joke — poking the europhiles in the eye with the fact that Europe isn’t the Paradise they make it out to be.)

Spain’s reluctance to seek a sovereign bailout – a condition for European Central Bank intervention to cut the country’s borrowing costs – could propel the euro zone into deeper trouble.

And I’m not sure where any possible bail out is going to come from — countries are already borrowed money in order to provide the first bail out to Greece.

And Greece is still on shaky ground

The clashes occurred after more than 50,000 people marched to parliament chanting “We won’t submit to the troika (of lenders)” and “EU, IMF Out!” on a day of strikes against a new round of cuts demanded by EU and IMF lenders.

As the rally ended, dozens of black-clad youth threw stones, petrol bombs and bottles at riot police, who responded with several rounds of teargas. Police chased the protesters through Syntagma square in front of parliament as helicopters clattered overhead. Smoke rose from a small blaze in a corner.

The strikes, called by the country’s two biggest unions representing half the four-million-strong work force, is shaping up to be the first test of whether Prime Minister Antonis Samaras can stand his ground.

Again — 50,000 people marching with some of them throwing stones and Molotov cocktails — that is a riot folks !

I found it confusing when I hear people complaining about not being able to leave on the amount they are making and then I read this:

“These tax hikes and wage cuts are killing us.”

The traditional summer break has allowed the fragile conservative-led coalition to enjoy relative calm on the streets since narrowly coming to power on a pro-euro, pro-bailout platform, but unions predict an end to the lull.

According to what I can find; Greeks enjoy 25 vacation days per year in addition to the 12 paid holidays each year — 37 days.

The economy in Europe affects the people in America in significant ways

U.S. stock futures are sliding as the European economic crisis devolves into social unrest for the most vulnerable countries like Greece and Spain.

Most of my retirement funds are in 401(k) accounts, just like many people in this country. Our economy is fragile and can’t take too many shocks before the whole house of illusionary cards come tumbling down.

Keep up with your preps folks, it is gonna get rocky or worse.



You Called Me, Remember?

Sorry Bank of America; I simply refuse to play your game.

I am not going to give you the last 4 of my SSN.
I am not going to give you the account number.
I am not going to jump through the hoops of your internal procedures.


YOU called me.

YOU called me at my home number.

YOU asked for me and I confirmed you were talking to me.



Most other companies don’t have that ridiculous confirmation process because it is not needed. Get over yourself. You aren’t dealing with national secrets needing a Top Secret or higher clearance.


This rant has been brought to you by a 8:30 a.m. phone call that woke me up on one of the few days I was sleeping in.

Naw, couldn’t be….

ERCOT is asking consumers and businesses to reduce electric use between 3 and 7 p.m. as generating stations struggle to keep up with the demand during the triple-digit heat wave.

“We are expecting the statewide power supplies to be very tight over peak today, primarily due to the forecast for continued temperature extremes which causes higher than normal electricity use, and because of unexpected unit outages,” said ERCOT spokesman Kent Saathoff in a statement released Thursday morning.

…any correlation and causality between these two articles, could there?


DALLAS (AP) The major electric power provider for much of North and West Texas says it is considering closing or reducing operations at some of its coal-fired plants to meet new federal clean-air rules.

Tell me again how government is the solution.


It’s in the Newspaper, so it must be true

Via many people on the blog roll, comes this article from the Philly Enquirer.

It has become a disturbingly familiar workplace scenario, statistically rare, but occurring often enough to have a ritualistic feel.

Maybe if the media wouldn’t obsessively publish every detail of the crime it wouldn’t have a ritualistic feel.
Maybe if the media wouldn’t obsessively detail the past work place incidents it wouldn’t have a ritualistic feel.
And that underscores a central reality for employers and the labor and employment lawyers who advise them on how to handle workplace conflicts: Identifying the one-in-a-million person on the verge of committing mass murder is akin to finding a needle in a haystack.
I actually think that 1 in a million is overstating it but hey, let’s go with it.
The question becomes what do we do about it. There are some sensible things that can be done.

Actually, no. D’Angelo says employers need always to be alert for signs that an employee is troubled. Once an employee is about to be dismissed, the employee must remain under supervision until escorted off the grounds and should be observed cleaning out his or her desk.

Ossip says he advises clients, if the employee has made threatening statements, to bring security into the building in advance of a dismissal or disciplinary action. He also suggests taking such action at the end of the workday, when most employees have left for home. Sara Begley, a labor and employment lawyer at Reed Smith L.L.P., also urges employers to have security present.

“Can you take the risk [of not having security] when you are responsible for ensuring the safety of others? The easy answer is you cannot,” she said.

One of the things not mentioned in this article is most companies don’t have nor could afford security.
In those cases, the employees or employers need to be their own security.
“My husband is out there. I don’t know how he found me.  I’m struggling as it is, now he’ll completely cut me off.”

“Excuse me for a moment.”  I step out of the conference room.  From inside the managers office, I call the reception staff in.  Everybody gets a quick briefing.  I ask them, “Any questions for me?” Only one: “Do you have your gun?”


You see, I don’t expect an office shooting. I don’t hold my breath because of what a visitor may do.  And yet, the vast majority of my practice is bankruptcy, domestic, and criminal/traffic law.  None of this is “happy law.”  Few people are happy to see me.  And so, I will not leave my safety to the whims and emotions of those who walk through the door.

I return to the conference room.  I need to wrap this interview up.  Her mind is not here anymore and we both know it.  I also need to be up front.  Ready.

All too often the police won’t get there in time to do more then take down the names and put up crime scene tape.
It is up to you to be ready. Always.