Misdeeds and Misdirection: Just Another Day in Corporate America :-( (Updated 6/16/2017)
What is This Hub About?
I am starting the hub to cataloger anecdotes of the dishonesty of American Corporations. As a people we have a rather short memory when it comes to being deceived by those who want our money. While we absolutely need the goods and services produced by Corporations we don't need to be lied to in their effort to get us to buy them.
When I use the term Corporation, I mean those really big companies and industries that wield massive power and possess enough wealth to affect policy and run effective propaganda campaigns via the media and lobbyists. I do not mean to include the small and medium sized companies who, for the most part I believe, act in moral, ethical ways and have both themselves and their customers at heart.
I'll segment the hub alphabetically, by industry . There will be sub-sections as needed. In each section I will provide the anecdote, the source, and maybe some commentary.
PLEASE, send your input and sourcing along with whether you want credit for the entry if I use it.
Enjoy - My Esoteric
October 13, 2010: Aviation Industry - The aviation Industry becomes Chicken Little ... again. On April 29, 2010, a new rule issued by the Department of Transportation went into effect baring airlines from keeping passengers on a plane delayed on the tarmac for more than three hours; with certain exceptions.
In the intervening 120 days from Dec 2009, the airline industry campaigned against this passenger-friendly regulation. As I and hopefully you remember, they lobbied hard in Washington and in the media ballyhooing to whoever would listen how this rule would cause significant flight cancellations and inconvienice to the very same passengers it was designed to protect. Once more, the Liberals were trying to over regulate the poor American Corporations. In December 2009, ATA president and CEO James C. May of the Air Transport Association of America (ATA), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, commented on the Department of Transportation (DOT) Tarmac Delay Rule by saying:
"We will comply with the new rule even though we believe it will lead to unintended consequences - more cancelled flights and greater passenger inconvenience. In particular, the requirement of having planes return to the gates within a three hour window or face significant fines is inconsistent with our goal of completing as many flights as possible. Lengthy tarmac delays benefit no one," For additional industry information, visit www.airlines.org.
At another time, Jami Counter, TripAdvisor Flights senior director said:
"Today's new limit on tarmac delays from the Department of Transportation is welcome news for airline passengers, especially those who have experienced extended delays on the tarmac in recent years. While the limits are good on the surface for passengers, they may have some unintended consequences. With the new rules in place, congested airports that usually have longer taxi times and delays due to heavy traffic could possibly see flights at a greater risk of cancellation during bad weather due to the new regulation."
Another example is from an American Airlines press release:
"While we fundamentally disagree with any increase in regulation on airlines - in this case, government-imposed time limits, restrictions and sanctions for tarmac delays -- we understand and we will comply with the Department of Transportation's rules. We also must apologize for inconveniencing customers who will be adversely affected by these rules, as we will be forced to cancel more flights than we had under our self-imposed, four-hour policy."
What were the results? In August 2010, there was one incident where passengers were stranded in a plane for more than three hours, compared to 66 in August 2009. What is more, the rate of cancelled flights had not changed! In fact, since April 2010, when the new rule went into effect, it has been broken only eight times. Compare that to the whopping 529 times it would have been broken in the same four month time period last year. Guess what, during the comparable four month time period the rate of cancelled flights did not change!
I will leave you to draw your own conclusions about the efficacy of the Corporate and Industry claims.
11/11/14: This is about as egregious as it gets and the chutzpah is simply mind-boggling! BIG BANKS were fined over $3 Billion dollars by the U.S. and Britain for illegally collaborating in order to fix interest rates such as for your mortgage in the $15 Trillion foreign exchange (FX) market. The banks were Citibank, HSBC, JPMorganChase, UBS, and RBS, and they were find $1.4 Billion by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and $1.75 billion (£1.1 b) by U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority. UBS will also make a payment to Switzerland. Barclay's is still under investigation in Britain.
The culprit appears to be lax regulations (brought on by the then current political climate?) allowing traders (who called themselves "the traders", "the three musketeers", and "the A-team" to accomplish their illegal activity for their respective company's. They met together in private on-line chat rooms to coordinate buying and selling to manipulate currency prices in their bank's favor and the expense of the bank's clients.
9/9/16: Wells Fargo Bankhas joined the list of greedy corporations who stick it to their customers as well as their own employees. While corporate management denies this and, in one case, took hundreds of thousands in severance pay when the story broke that thousands of Wells Fargo sales people created millions of fake accounts and other financial products using current customers money ... without their knowledge! While it was the employees who were committing the crimes of opening up fraudulent checking accounts and issuing fake debit cards, it was management and corporate policy that made them do it with unreasonable sales goals and very high pressure to meet them ... as well as to turning a blind eye to the illegal practices. The employees were between a rock and a hard place (commit a crime or lose their job) and most played along while a few brave souls resisted and found new employment. In the end, Wells Fargo acted surprised and took the "high" road by firing over 5,000 employees.
June 14, 2013: RIP-OFF CHARITIES - In a recent Tampa Bay Times and Investigated exposé article on charities who keep most of the money that is donated to them over the last 10 years. In total, these "charities" have raked in $1,351 million, paid to solicitors, $971 million, and paid out in Direct Cash Aid a whopping $49 million; so be for warned and aware of the following:
- (worst offender) KIDS WISH NETWORK - raises millions of dollars in donations in the name of dying children and their families. They keep 97% of every donated dollar! [Total collected for fund - $128 M, amount for charity - $18 M; Accumulated totals - $128 M and $18 M] (This was reported again on CNN on 8/27/2013 as still being a huge rip-off!)
- CANCER FUND OF AMERICA (Breast Cancer Financial Assistance Fund) - Funds research and pays for cancer treatment. They keep 99.2% of every dollar! [Total collected for fund - $98 M, amount for charity - $18 M; Accumulated totals - $226 M and $36 M]
- CHILDREN'S WISH FOUNDATION, INTERNATIONAL - PLEASE DO NOT CONFUSE THIS WITH "MAKE-A-WISH FOUNDATION" of Arizona; Make-a-Wish is legitimate while this impostor is not. This organization only contributes 10 cents out of each of your dollars to terminally ill children. [Total collected for fund - $98 M, amount for charity - $34 M; Accumulated totals - $324 M and $72 M]
- AMERICAN BREAST CANCER FOUNDATION - This charity promised to pay for breast cancer screenings. Instead, they paid 94.5 cents of each dollar to fundraisers and salaries and only 5.5 cents to help women. [Total collected for fund - $81 M, amount for charity - $21 M; Accumulated totals - $405 M and $93 M]
- FIREFIGHTERS CHARITABLE FOUNDATION - Firefighters Charitable Foundation was created to provide financial assistance to people who have been affected by a fire or disaster, but they spend only 8.4 cents of every dollar you give them doing so. [Total collected for fund - $64 M, amount for charity - $9 M; Accumulated totals - $469 M and $102 M]
- BREAST CANCER RELIEF FOUNDATION (aka National Cancer Coalition) - Supposedly, this charity gives directly to hospitals or to women in need of breast cancer screenings or ships medical supplies and Central America. Only 2.2 cents on the dollar make it to these activities! [Total collected for fund - $64 M, amount for charity - $19 M; Accumulated totals - $533 M and $131M]
- INTERNATIONAL UNION OF POLICE, AFL-CIO - this union based fund supposedly have their donations go to providing financial aid to the families of fallen police officers who were union members as well as scholarships to students seeking degrees in law enforcement. In reality, 72 cents of each of your donation dollars pays fundraisers and salaries. Only 28 cents goes to what they say it does.[Total collected for fund - $57 M, amount for charity - $16 M; Accumulated totals - $590M and $147M]
- NATIONAL VETERAN'S SERVICE FUND - The fund promises provided needed counseling and "limited medical assistance" to returning veterans who need it. How much to they give? How about 7.8 cents on the dollar! [Total collected for fund - $70 M, amount for charity - $33 M; Accumulated totals - $660 M and $180 M]
- AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF STATE TROOPERS - This is a fraternal organization whose donation ARE NOT tax deductible. Besides low cost life insurance, it is not clear what they do for their members, but they did give 8.6 cents out of every dollar collected in direct cash aid. [Total collected for fund - $45 M, amount for charity - $36 M; Accumulated totals - $705 M and $216 M]
I KEEP THIS LIST (actually the full one of all 50 names - give time, I will get there for you) BY MY SIDE WHEN A TELEMARKETER makes their way through my defenses for I clearly do not want to donate to them and to urge the poor schmuck on the other end of the line to give his boss a piece of my mind.
October 13, 2010: AT&T - This entry is a link to another blog by Teresa Mears. It describes an unbelievable story about the battle between the great granddaughter of Alexander Graham Bell, founder of the original AT&T, and the current AT&T, formerly Southwestern Bell. AT&T should be ashamed of themselves but you know as well as I do, they aren't because it would hurt the bottom line. Please click to go to the blog which I call AT&T Delivers Up Irony. Enjoy.
January 18, 2011: FACEBOOK - Bottom line ... Facebook is NOT your friend! Just saw on CNN where Facebook reversed their decision to release your personal telephone number and address to third party companies if you download certain apps!!! The only reason they are changing their mind, of course, is they got caught trying to slip it past you ... again. I just set up a Facebook account after pondering it for many years. Now, I am pondering deactivating it again.
January 18, 2012: XO COMMUNICATIONS - This is a personal story of bright promises leading to huge disappointment and 30 very unhappy employees as well as uncounted vendors and clients. A year ago, because of the lack of flexibility of landlines combined with the poor service you come to expect from such companies as AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and the rest, we decided to take a chance on the new technology of Voice Over IP, internet-based telephone service ... think Vonage.
This kind of service has been around for awhile and several large companies had started using it successfully; its costs had come down to a level that a company my size could afford. My IT guy did an industry search and came up with XO Communications as being a good trade between quality and cost; they were supposedly one of the best and largest providers in the country. We made the switch which went relatively smoothly from the XO side, but our then current providers gave us a very hard time dropping their service; that would be Telepacific, we came close to suing them. As a result, it ended up being a long, drawn out, rough start.
In time, it was all working and it was great, most everything we wanted minus some problems that were of our own making; those were eventually solved as well. But then, some eight months ago, after some change they made to their system in Las Vegas, calls started getting dropped or interupted. We could call and see the call was connected yet hear nothing; as it turns out, the other end could hear us. Other problems were there as well, but they turned out to be our system.
Of course, my IT staff started calling XO's customer service and technical support and started getting issued trouble ticket numbers; we have probably accumulated over 50 by now. I have to say that reaching them, for me anyway, has not been an issue, although my IT guy may beg to differ, but that doesn't solve the problem, which they haven't. I started calling a few weeks ago and actually had some success! The problems stopped ... for a week ... between Christmas and New Years.
I talked to XO customer service again today looking for an explanation as to why they can't fix the problem ... their response a "customer service manager will get back with you in 3 to 5 business days, maybe they can switch you to a different product" ???
That, of course, implies they can't fix their current product, so how about those poor companies still using it? If they have a better product, why didn't they bring it up six months ago? How about the clients who finally get frustrated enough between now and when they finally fix things that will find another service provider themselvers.
Another example of Corporate America at work.
August 25, 2011 - Carnival Cruise Lines: the Spirit vs the Letter of the Law - First, let me say, I like Carnival Cruise Lines, I just finished my sixth cruise and intend on taking more. That said, I have an interesting anecdote, at least to art collectors, that will force me on to another cruise line in the next year which I will present at this at the end of this piece.
This hub, however, is offered to drub the Carnival corporation for acting very bad; in an extremely un-fun ship manner (which, as you will see, ties ironically into my anecdote). It happened during the 2008 Bush recession. I have two friends, husband and wife, who are a two-person band; that is how they have earned their living for 35 years or more. In mid-2008, they contacted Carnival Cruise Lines, through an agent, to sign a standard 6-month contract play one of their Fun Ships. Carnival liked their demo tape and negotiations began.
Here, I need to say that this team is just that, a team. He is the lead guitarist and singer and she is the accompaniment. Occasionally she will have a lead song, but only a few; she doesn't have what it takes to go solo and while he probably does, he would be lost without her. By November 2008, they had come to an agreement as to which line they would play on and when. There were a few odds and ends to take care of like drug tests, some paper work, and other things but it was a done deal.
My friends took the drug tests, got their medicals, filled out and sent in the remaining paperwork and waited for the contract. In the meantime two things happened, 1) they cancelled all of their gigs and the economy went south and. I think you can see the handwriting on the wall, 2) they waited and waited.
Carnival, nor the agent, never contacted them. When they finally did get through to somebody, they were told one story, which I forget, but then were told the economy was so bad (it actually wasn't yet but it was going to be) that Carnival couldn't "use" a two-person act now but would they mind doing two singles? That, of course, wasn't in the cards for them, which I suspect Carnival knew; husband and wife teams are rarely able to split-up. even if they get divorced.
Well, my friends had never signed on the dotted line so they didn't have a binding contract and they made the naïve mistake of trusting corporations at their word. It is my belief they should start teaching you at birth never to believe anything a corporation tells you and only half of what they put in writing; it should be a required course in every grade from pre-school through college title "The Follies of Believing Corporate Triple-Speak" Based on the spoken word of Carnival through their agent, they had cancelled their contracts; given appropriate and polite notice to their clients rather than leave them in a lurch as many corporation would.
My friends tried to reason with Carnival but to no avail and they had no money nor really any cause (no contract) to bring a legal action because Carnival was certainly within the Letter of the Law, just well beyond the Spirit (they should retire the ship sailing under that name out of embarrassment) of the Law.
What happened to my friends? They were financially and emotionally devastated; the wife's health deteriorated as result as well. When they had steady work, they basically lived hand-to-mouth, as most musicians who play the small town circuit do. They did have the good fortune to own their own home outright, so they always had a roof, even though they were sometimes starving under it (we didn't let the starve, actually).
This is 2011, and they are just now able to rebuild some semblance of the circuit they used to have, because all of those who use to employ them found others to replace them so, there was nothing to go back to. As I write this, they are playing at one of their old haunts West of Flagstaff, AZ (they live in ID) for a nice long stint. I hope things keep getting better as the recovery from Carnival's dastardly double-dealing.
ANECDOTE - Me thinks Carnival has carried their "Fun Ship" motto a might too far. Now, this isn't a criticism in the mode of the previous few paragraphs, just a humorous observation about an odd business practice.
Carnival, Norwegian, and Regent Cruise Lines all host Park West Galleries on-board ship which hold art "auctions". I have been going to them for the last five cruises, all on Carnival, and found them very entertaining and informative and not too expensive, until this last cruise when my wife, for some weird reason took the leash off of me. Park West shows art from the very inexpensive, $60, to one Peter Max I saw three days ago going for $68,000, framed and shipped; my wife loved it, I didn't buy it, I needed to keep my house.
Anyway, I have had my eye on a Rembrandt etching for many cruises now and was going to buy one next cruise; while not particularly cheap, these "originals" were much more affordable than I ever realized. I talked to the Park West auctioneer about look at some examples and was astonished to find out that Carnival Cruise Lines would no longer allow Park West to exhibit art from dead artists!! Can you believe, Park West couldn't show me a Rembrandt or a Picasso! Unbelievable; I laughed out loud.
Now here is the irony, about three cruises ago I bought a Flintstones cell signed by Hanna and Barbera; one was dead and the other alive at the time but since has died. At the time, Carnival didn't have the dead artist policy in place yet. So, here is the ironic rub; today, if I wanted to buy that same "fun" cartoon cell by the "dead" artists Hanna and Barbera from Park West on the "Fun" ship Carnival Spirit, I couldn't because ... "dead" artists aren't "fun"!!! and don't fit their business model.
Apparently what their business model overlooks, unless they simply don't care, is me telling the world about this and booking my next cruise on Norwegian or Regent because the difference in price for my Rembrandt from the on-shore price is still much less than the difference in ticket prices between Carnival and the other two cruise lines. When I do so, they now run the risk that I might like the other cruise line enough to keep on using them where before, I wouldn't have even tried them because I was quite satisfied with Carnival; I still am for that matter except for this "dead" artist thing; must be an art lover issue which most of the other passengers probably don't give one whit about.
I will be sending off a letter to Carnival stating most of what I just wrote, more diplomatically of course, hubs give me a bit more latitude to be funny, with the hopes they will change their policy before I book my next cruise. As I see it, it is a no win for them. For 90% of their passengers, they could care less whether Park West sells art from non-living artists because they have no interest in the subject; I traveled with 17 other people and only my wife came with me to keep me under control; she failed. For the 10% on-board who do care, not being able to buy non-living artists is a disincentive to cruise on the "Fun" ships because it takes a lot of the "fun" out of buying or viewing art.
I will let you know how it turns out. Anyway. there is my anecdote, hope you liked it.
12/10/2014: AMAZON & FEDERAL GOV'T - Amazon requires warehouse workers to go through a thorough security check at the end of their shift looking for contraband; this, according to testimony, can take up to 25 minutes. It isn't the fact employees to submit to scrutinization by security that is the problem, that is understandable ... it is the fact the employees are not paid for their wait time while getting processed by Amazon personnel. Along with being very cheap by Amazon, it would seem this is highly illegal as well; Amazon requires the employees to stay on the premises for the check, it makes since the employees should get paid for that time Amazon has taken from them.
In fact, it seems so reasonable, the workers to Amazon to court and the Federal Court of Appeals thought so as well. Guess what, think again. In a 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court said no dice, Amazon doesn't owe them a dime. Why you ask? Because:
"The court found that the workers don't have to be paid because under federal law, they do not have to be compensated for time spent performing an activity that they were not hired to do."
This Speaks for Itself
February 10, 2011: JP Morgan Chase - On Wednesday, February 9, 2011, Congress grilled a corporate executive ... again. The admittedly guilty corporation this time was JPMorgan Chase, one of the bailed-out, merged survivors who had a heavy hand in causing the 2007 financial meltdown. What they admitted to was screwing our active duty military by overcharging 4500 of them on their mortgages and actually Foreclosing on 18, "Accidentally", they claimed. It was "accidental" because they admitted to being so inept (my term) and ignorant (my term again) that they were unable to interpret military orders, the same orders that 18 year old soldiers have absolutely no problem with. (Let me note that my sarcasm is mild compared to that coming from the Democratic members of the Committee.) Please know, these are the same executives, the ones unable to interpret military orders, that are responsible for the terms and conditions that you agree to when you sign for one of their credit cards, you know, the 10,000 words they cram in 4 font on a 5" x 8" piece of paper? What do you really think the Congressmen thought about their veracity?
The rules JPMorgan Chase and other mortgage lenders must follow with Active duty military, via the Service members Civil Relief Act (SCRA). This law caps interest on debt incurred before service, such as mortgage or credit card debt, at 6% while active, and also prevents foreclosure proceedings from beginning until nine months after the service member returns from active duty.
What the JPMorgan Chase exec told Congress was that because they were not able to understand the military orders, they weren't sure when these Service members were on active duty and when they weren't and therefore "made mistakes" (4500 times) in overcharging these members.
It was music to my ears when Rep. Bob Filner, D-California, first commented, "You broke the law, your bank broke the law, shouldn't someone go to jail for that?" and then charged, "Who's responsible? Are you, as the executive VP who was given to us from the bank to answer for this stuff, should you go to jail?" Yes, I say, someone, several someones, should go to jail! Filner then finished with, "You'll take this seriously, if somebody went to jail with a white collar."
Of course, the JPMorgan Chase executive promised never to do it again and that they have put fixes into place including teaching staff how to read military orders. While they may have permanently fixed this problem, but only time will tell, that isn't the issue. The issue is the thing that needs fixing isn't just this process or that technical aspect, it is the corporate culture, corporate mindset that they are entitled to their position and that they are invincible and can buy their way out of any trouble.
APRIL 14, 2011 - GOLDMAN SACHS
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- A Senate panel issued a scathing report Wednesday that describes Goldman Sachs as a "case study" of the recklessness and greed on Wall Street that set off the 2008 financial crisis.
The 600-page report also blames the lending practices of big commercial banks, such as the now-defunct Washington Mutual, for plunging the U.S. economy into a painful recession.
The regulators who failed to crack down on the banks, including the Office of Thrift Supervision, are faulted for their cozy relationship with Wall Street, as are the major credit rating agencies, Moody's and Standard & Poor's.
"Our investigation found a financial snake pit rife with greed, conflicts of interest, and wrongdoing," said Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate subcommittee charged with investigating the causes of the financial crisis.
The subcommittee, which spent two years on the investigation, based its report on thousands of internal company documents and emails, as well as hundreds of interviews and Congressional testimony.
The subcommittee singled out Goldman (GS, Fortune 500) and Deutsche Bank (DB) as examples of Wall Street firms that reaped huge profits by marketing securities backed by subprime mortgages as safe investments to clients, even as the banks bet against these very same securities.
0:00 /03:50Being a female partner at Goldman
Goldman paid a record $550 million fine to the Securities and Exchange Commission in July to settle charges it misled investors in the 2007 sale of a collateralized debt obligation, or CDO, known as Abacus.
In addition to Abacus, the subcommittee outlined three other CDOs where it says Goldman had conflicts of interest.
According to the report, Goldman told investors in a CDO called Hudson that its interests were "aligned" with those of the investors. However, the report said Goldman held 100% of the short side of the CDO and had "adverse interests to the investors."
Goldman also told investors that Hudson's assets were "sourced from the Street," suggesting the underlying bonds were picked by outside investors. However, Goldman had selected and priced the assets without any third-party involvement, the report said.
"Goldman is still hiding the fact that they were the beneficiaries of the failure of the Hudson CDO," said Levin.
"While we disagree with many of the conclusions of the report, we take seriously the issues explored by the Subcommittee," Goldman said in a statement. The bank said it has reviewed its business practices and is "committed to making significant changes that will strengthen relationships with clients," and improve transparency and disclosure.
Senator Levin said he plans to refer potential cases of conflict of interest to the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, adding that he believes the SEC has been "slow to act."
"In my opinion, they (Goldman) clearly misled their clients and they misled the Congress," Levin added.
The report echoes some conclusions reached by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which was split along party lines and released two competing reports on the causes of the crisis in January.
October 16, 2010: CAMPBELL SOUP - Recently, Campbell Soup began airing an ad that emphasized their using the more healthy "lower sodium" sea salt rather than normal table salt. Since I am an INTP, that peeked my curiosity. My first thought was that Campbell soup was doing it again, trying to mislead the public because isn't salt, salt? How can the salt in sea salt be any different that the salt in common table salt. After all NaCl is NaCL (sodium chloride). So I dug a little.
First, I looked at a box of Morton's table salt and a box of Morton's fine grain sea salt. Lo and behold, a 1/4 teaspoon contained 590 mg and 560 mg of sodium, respectively. Son-of-a-gun, Campbell was right! Then I looked at the weight. A 1/4 teaspoon of table salt is 1.5 grams while the same amount of sea salt is only 1.4 grams, according to the label. Redoing the math, I ended up with the sodium in table salt weighing 393 mg per gram and in sea salt weighing 400 mg per gram. Then I poured some of each out on the table and sure enough, the sea salt grains were a little larger than the table salt so fewer of them will fit in a 1/4 tablespoon leading to lower sodium and less weight. Sorry Campbell, strike one.
Next, I looked at Campbell's website and discovered they are using a "new and improved" sea salt from manufacturers that claim they have a new method of processing sea water to drive out, I am being conservative here, over 50% of the sodium in the sea salt! I didn't immediately find which manufacturer Campbell chose to use but the few I found on-line were making these claims, e.g., Ocean's Flavor Foods. With that kind of reduction, gram for gram, I do not doubt that Campbell reached their goal of lower sodium content; but at what price? What aren't they telling us?
As I found, salt is not salt. When we think of salt, we normally think of NaCL, sodium chloride. But, that is not the only salt. Another common one used in salt substitutes is KCl, potassium chloride. There is also potassium permanganate, magnesium chloride, aluminium sulfate, aluminium chloride, etc, etc. Campbell is claiming they are using "lower sodium" sea salt but maintaining the same great flavor. To me, that means they are using the same "amount" of salt, it just has less sodium in it, as promised in their commercial.
OK, let's think about this. If we have, say, 2000 mg of sea salt (sorry about the numbers) then we would have roughly 786 mg of sodium if my math is right. Let's say their label says the soup only contains 480 mg of sodium, one of the numbers I believe they are shooting for to get FDA approval for their health claims. So, the question is, what is making up the other 306 grams? They don't say, but my guess is that it is potassium. But if it isn't, it must be some other chemical which they are not identifying in their commercial.
Now, if it is potassium, that may be fine for many people, but for me, if I don't know it, it could possibly make me sick since I am diabetic and have some minor heart issues. I have to monitor my potassium intake. So for me, the Low-Sodium Soup may not be healthy, as advertised. Now, if the additional chemical is not potassium, but something else, I am even more worried.
Finally, if my first assumption is incorrect and they are actually using less salt as well as a lower sodium formulation, then they have compounded the deception because in order to maintain flavor, they logically would have had to add some other ingredient they are forgetting to mention. This is even more scary.
Buyer beware, if they say it is good for you, INVESTIGATE!
He Sued Mcdonald's ... and Won!
AUGUST 16, 2013: McDONALDS CORP - This one might turn your stomach a bit.
Did you know that McDonalds, and at one time Taco Bell, used hamburger meat labeled by the USDA "unfit for human consumption" for the meat they cooked and served you? YUK! Well apparently you can put it through something called a "pink-slime" process, which according the successful suit brought by Chef Jamie Oliver against McDonald's, means the the fatty parts of the beef are washed in ammonium hydroxide to kill the microbes in it and make it "fit for human consumption"; otherwise it would be sold as dog food.
While this "pink slime" process apparently passes muster with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) it certainly pokes holes in McDonald's claims about the quality of the beef they use; large holes ... almost dog food, yuk again; but then, you can buy double cheese burgers at some McDonald's for a dollar can't you.
Besides Taco Bell, Burger King abandoned the practice a while back, and the process is either not used or not allowed in the UK, Ireland, and several regions of Latin America. Oliver also points out, ney demonstrates to children how, after all the best parts of a chicken are selected and used for other purposes, the remainder; fat, skin, and internal organs, are processed into chicken nuggets.
Other uses in the food industry of ammonium hydroxide is as a leavening agent or as an acidity-regulator and is considered safe by the FDA, although Oliver disagrees. Of course you know it has a household cleaner, but it is also used to darken or stain wood that contains tannic acid and in the tobacco industry as, hehe, a flavor enhancer.
The bottom line, however, is that while McDonald's has denied the cause is the loss of the lawsuit, but they have now abandoned the ammonia hydroxide process as well.
This Is Very Disturbing, View at Own Discretion!!
DECEMBER 20, 2014: THE WINCHESTER DAIRY, ROSWELL, NM - Did you know that in Idaho, Utah, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, Montana and Kansas it is illegal for anyone, without permission of the owner, to take video of abuse at animal agriculture operations; it is called “ag-gag” laws to prevent these operations and their owners from being outed for criminal behavior. Fortunately, New Mexico is NOT on this list of shameless states. Instead, when the New Mexico Livestock Board, a state agency, got wind of animal abuse of cattle going on at the Winchester Dairy farm near Roswell, NM who produce dairy products from over 3,000 head of cattle.
On Thursday, Denver-based Leprino Foods, for whom Winchester Dairy was a supplier, announced a program that requires its dairy suppliers and farmers to comply with new company guidelines regarding animal care. Leprino, the world’s largest producer of mozzarella cheese and a supplier to fast-food chains nationwide, has said that it was “extremely repulsed” by the video.
What the video shows, in case you don't want to watch it, for it is extremely horrifying, is whippings with metal chains, electric prods applied to the milking cows' udders, Winchester Dairy workers using chains and metal wires to whip animals on their faces and bodies, using tractors to drag milk cows too weak to walk on their own, and electrically shocking the genitals of many animals to get them to move. They also kicked, punched and stabbed cows with screwdrivers, the activists reported.
ew Mexico dairy that supplied cheese products to several major U.S. pizza chains.
The Los Angeles Times reports that “The entire five and a half months I was on the farm, I didn’t see a single veterinarian,” Robert said. and "He reported the abuse to a foreman. The response was a grunt, Robert said. “He turned around and walked away. There was never any corrective action.”
Also "The livestock board completed its investigation into Winchester in October, but Chaves County has yet to say whether it will file charges. “We gave the prosecutors our results months ago,” said Ray Baca, executive director of the board. “But we've heard nothing from them.” The prosecutor’s office did not respond to calls for comment."
So, only time will tell what the final outcome will be and if anyone goes to jail for these crimes.
It is not just Corporations who can be bad, our own State and Federal Judicial Systems can be as well. Follow this link, it is really scary!
October 22, 2010: FOX NEWS - I had just tuned in to Meygan Kelly's "America Live" show to hear her say that Senator Reid had just claimed that " ... he was responsible for saving the country from a depression ... " or words to that effect. Of course, that caught my attention. What followed next left my jaw on the floor.
Now she had a counterpoint person, a foil, on her show to rebut her claims but he was only there as a prop, as it turns out. The quote from Senator Reid which Ms Kelly, the "fair and balanced new of today" news reporter according to her blurb, is referring to is,
"We were at the top and we've fallen very hard. So people have been hurting, and I understand that, and it doesn't give them comfort or solace for me to tell them, you know, but for me we'd be in a worldwide depression. ..."
This was made in an interview with MSNBC's Ed Schultz on 10/21/2010 regarding his message to his constituents. Her program foil made the clear point that Ms. Kelly is taking his words out of context; that if you listened to Senator Reid, you would know he was using a figure of speech to make a point. I went back and listened to that interview and, son-of-a-gun, there is know question in my mind Senator Reid has no delusions of grandeur.
When pressed by her opponent, Ms Kelly offered as proof of her position the statement by Senator Reid's spokesperson later that day that said,
"It's clear that Sen. Reid was making the point that he gets how people are struggling and that long explanations about policy aren't what they are looking for, but that we have passed policies that have prevented a bad situation from becoming worse."
Ms. Kelly jumped all over the last 14 words of this statement as "Proof Positive" of Senator's Reid's Reid's " ... height of ignorance or arrogance, or most likely, a combination of both ...," (from National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brian Walsh). ...... Well Duh! of course the policies and programs put in place by the Obama administration and the Democrats (remember, the House had something to do with this as well and that ALL of the Republicans voted against it), economic disaster was averted. Everyone in America, other than Ms, Kelly apparently, acknowledge this. Ms. Kelly, despite all of the logic that her show-mate heaped upon her would not be budged! I was dumbfounded.
Of course, I now must wonder about Ms. Kelly's news reporting credentials. The "fail and balanced" tag line certainly went out the window along with her credibility. Her performance was worthy as a skit on Saturday Night Live and not as serious news nor even serious editorializing. Finally, to me, the only clear evidence presented was Fox News uninhibited bias to the far right and their masquerade as a news organization.
For those of you on the right, not to worry. I will make it a point to watch MSNBC next. I am sure I will not be disappointed in finding similar material to write about.
January 21, 2011 - This entry is an introduction to another hub that speaks to the manipulation of the pharmaceutical industry of the availability of generic and mature brand-name sedatives in order to drive sales toward new and more expensive, non-generic drugs they have developed. The author, Sembj, brings together a wealth of information and sources to support this thesis plus the lack of response by our politicians. It is definitely worth a read.
- Medication Shortages: Pills and Politics
Should the shortage of medications be a big story? Do Americans recognize people are dying as a result? Would many politicians from either side of the aisle just prefer that the story go away? Do dollars from pharmaceutical companies compromise the m
Retail - On-line
November 18, 2010: OVERSTOCK.COM - Just saw on the news that Overstock.com is being sued for False Advertising by a group of California district attorneys. It seems that the allegation is that Overstock.com is lying about the list price from which their discount is measured from (duh!). The DAs claim that Overstock.com simply makes up the list price to suit their purposes.
The example given was a patio set that Overstock.com claimed listed for $999 which they sold for $499.99; not too bad, eh? Problem is, when the patio set arrived, it had a Walmart price sticker on it listing $247!! Shame on you, Overstock.com. .... but that is not the real story, their defense is.
Overstock.com claims the way they come up with their list prices is available on their website (after just trying for about 5 minutes to find it, I came back to finish this hub after failing) and that they follow standard industry practices. I have no doubt.
Caveat Emptor - Buyer Beware
Retail - Box Stores
KUDOS February 7, 2011: ACE HARDWARE MAKES GOOD GUY LIST - I want to step outside the main theme of this hub to applaud a company that follows through on its advertising. For the longest time I watched Ace Hardware commercials which made a very big deal of the customer service and product knowledge of their floor salespeople. They used such icons as John Madden to pitch their product and well they should.
I never stepped inside an Ace Hardware store until I moved to Florida in 2008. They have two stores in the rural area that I now live and I have to say that both live up to their claims ... in Spades (which they also sell). They have sales people standing all around that search you out to see if you need help and when you do, they really do know what they are talking about.
It is so nice to find a national company who actually lives up to their claims.
JUNE 28, 2014: WALMART SHOWS IT TRUE COLORS AGAIN! The Huffington Post reported today that that the Canadian Supreme Court, in a 5-2 decision, dealt Walmart a cruel blow saying they owe workers let go when they closed a store in Jonquiere, Ottawa because they unionized. In September 2004, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union was certified to represent employees of the store and in April 2005, just before an arbitrator was to impose a collective agreement for the 190 recently unionized employees, Walmart, scrooge that they are, closed the store down. This was in violation of Quebec labor law which says, "working conditions must not be altered in any way, shape or form during a unionization process."
I don't know how many States, if any, have such a law, but they all should because that is a favorite tactic of union-busters in America. How much will be awarded the fired employees is yet to be determined, but I hope it is a lot.
November 2013-Wyndham Vacation Resorts-Bonnet Creek, Florida: I own lots of timeshare points, mainly from Wyndham Vacation Resorts; but also from Parkside Williamsburg Resorts (stay far away from them is my advise) and Vacation Village at Weston (they were true to their word). You might guess that I like timeshares and think they are generally worthwhile, if you have the time to use them. Initially I began with a week from Fairfield Resorts back in 1989.
Fairfield lived up to their promise of low pressure sales and high quality resorts; I bought more. Then, several years ago, Wyndham Vacation Resorts bought Fairfield and things went downhill from there. Gone was the low pressure and up went the "exaggeration" in their sales pitch; their persistence was extremely annoying. I am generally a suspicious sort when it comes to these type of people, but last November, just about this time, my wife and I let our guard down and bought something based on an outright lie by the very nice young sales lady.
It wasn't much of a lie (two of them actually), but I based part of my decision to spend twenty-some thousand dollars on what they call their Wyndham Club Access program. The initial lie, which I believed because it made sense, didn't really affect me. They said this Access program was a very exclusive program with benefits which only a select group of VIP owners could use; it wasn't their most prestigious program, that one costs a lot more, but it is still exclusive. Even according to their website it says, "CLUB WYNDHAM Access is being offered on a limited basis at select locations."; sounds exclusive to me, doesn't it.
The reason it matters is that one of the benefits is a more robust advanced reservation capability at a couple of dozen more resorts other than your "home" resort. That is very worthwhile if you are trying to go to a high traffic area and you want to get at the head of the line. Well it isn't worth much if everybody has this "benefit", is it.
Why this section came to life is last October, we were in Las Vegas staying at the Grand Desert Resort, one of Wyndham's nicest, with my wife's sister and brother-in-law. They had been thinking of buying into Wyndham ever since they stayed with us in a Fairfield resort in Pagosa Springs, CO; further, I had been encouraging them. They finally bought a basic package, 107,000 points, I think, for much less than I paid for my Access program. While I was extoling the virtues of my not so new acquisition, they said, "That sounds a lot like what we bought." So, after I read their contract, I was pissed; they had exactly what I had paid for last year. So much for exclusivity!!
The Big Lie is we were told that we would, as Access owners, have the ability, for a fee, to reserve resorts for the Registry Collection, a very high-end set of resorts. Now, why this is so vivid for me is that I already have access to the Registry Collection ... through my business, every two years. So first, I knew what she was talking about and second, I thought "great" now I can get to these resorts more frequently and on my own schedule (we share the "fractional" condo with others in the company). This benefit made it a very good deal for me.
The problem is, when I was researching what my in-laws bought I found the Registry Collection WAS NOT a benefit of the Access program, only of the very exclusive Presidential Suite program. So, I picked up my telephone (after checking my contract) and started doing battle. It was a losing battle, of course, I had no legal foot to stand on. My only leverage was them getting more money out of me.
After having been denied satisfaction from Wyndham Customer Service, "sorry, we can't make an exception to our polices", I began considering this section and a letter to the CEO of Wyndham. In the meantime, another salesman called me to try to get me to Platinum Status, which I was pretty close to qualifying for. I laid on my sob story and he was appropriately applaud by his counterparts conduct and then proceeded to try to sell me stuff (actually what he proposed sounded interesting). After saying I am no longer interested in doing business with a company who lied to me, he inquired "how can I make this right for you?" I told him "get me the access to the Registry Collection that I was promised." He replied, after conferring with his boss, "we can't do that, it is prohibited, but I can give you a discount on what I want to sell you."
My response, of course, was, "sorry, I can't help you either and you know as well as I that Wyndham can do anything it wants." Nothing much was accomplished after that, although he tried very hard. Then, on a drive to Hot Springs, AR this week another salesman called me. I never did find out what he was selling but went through the same routine. This time I added that you understand, don't you, by not satisfying my requirements, several things will happen 1) instead of encouraging people to join Wyndham, I will discourage them, like with this story. 2) I will not buy anything more from Wyndham, 3) I will write this part of the Hub, and 4) the combination of all this will, over the long-run, cost Wyndham several hundred of thousands of dollars in lost sales. He said he understood and while he couldn't promise me anything, except to return any calls, he would see what he could do and call me next week when I get back to Florida. I am not holding my breath.
Bottom line, if there is something you want that was promised, make sure you see it in writing in the contract.
JUNE 16, 2016 - USA Today reported that Indentured Servitude is alive and well in America; specifically at California ports. Many major trucking companies at California ports who provide services to most of America's largest retailers1 treat their "independent contractors" like tenet farmers or indebted to company town's company store of Tennessee Williams fame - 16 tons 2; once you start working for them, you can never get out of debt to their employer.
The services these logistics companies provide are short-haul of goods from a port to a local warehouse or transportation hub. The scheme is they "lease-to-own" a truck to a driver which they claim is an independent contractor, but is not independent at all, after which they give him or her work. But the catch is, they now charge the driver for 1) gas they use, 2) insurance, 3) tires, 4) registration, and, of course, the lease payment.
Then they work the drivers to death, sometimes making them drive 20 hours a day, 6 days a week. assuming they give them any work at all. If the driver complains, they are fired and the company keeps the truck and any lease payments made. This is all illegal of course, but what can a driver do? They are locked into a no-win situation. Many have families and if they lose their job, their family suffers greatly. Obviously, these are all non-union drivers.
They have nobody but the California labor relations board in their corner who keeps finding that these people are employees eligible for minimum wage, not independent contractors. The major retailers such as the ones listed below and in the story pay millions of dollars to lobbyists to keep the status quo while at the same time tell everyone they have no responsibility to the drivers who move their goods.
Like the conduct of many other big corporations, how these companies, aided-and-abetted by the corporations who hire them, treat their employees is despicable. Hopefully, investigations like the one USA Today conducted will start shining a bright light on this disgrace to our nation.
1 As a minimum, USA Today named Target, Hewlett-Packard, Home Depot, Hasbro, J.Crew, UPS, Goodyear, Costco, Ralph Lauren as being responsible parties.
2 Lyrics go something like this: "You load 16 tons and what do you get. another day older and deeper in debt, Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go, I owe my soul to the company store"
- Lies, Thieves, and Presidential Candidates
Isn't it disgusting that if you are famous enough you can steal from the public and not get so much as a slap on the wrist. As long as you do not actually declare you are a candidate, you do not have to...
© 2010 Scott Belford