Friday, June 24, 2011

What's Your Second Job?

Most of us who are lucky enough to still be employed right now are likely also working a second job. I'm doing lawn jobs on the side of my IT job. This is not an option for me as I had to take a major pay cut several years ago and haven't gotten a raise since. Meanwhile the cost of living continues to rise. Who is to blame for this mess?!

A lot of people will answer that question with "The Government". But the reality is that the government did not cause the economy to collapse. The real culprit in the economic downward spiral is a mixed bag of giant corporations - including banks and those on Wall Street. The government has stepped in to help stabilize the situation and hopefully help reverse it - but the bottom line is that our very lives are still in the hands of the giant corporations. It is up to them to not only hire workers back but to also pay them a livable wage. Now you can see why the recovery is going so slow.

For those giant corporations that have survived the economic meltdown, it has actually been quite profitable for them. They were able to reduce their workforce by the thousands and lower wages for those that they kept. The fear of losing their jobs has made these remaining workers willing to work under theses very stressful conditions with the hope that it is temporary - meanwhile working 2nd or 3rd jobs to make ends meet. But it is not a temporary situation as we have seen. The government has done all it can to get corporations to hire people back and pay them a livable wage - including keeping the prior tax cuts in place. But the corporations have taken that assistance - added it to their executive salaries and profits while holding on to the cash and refusing to hire. In short - giant corporations suck.

The two branches of our Government (or is it three?) have very different views when it comes to business. Republicans support and defend these giant corporations and argue they need even more tax incentives in order to stimulate hiring. Democrats believe that smaller "Mom and Pop" type businesses - what we refer to as the "middle class" is a better way to run this country. Which do you prefer? Giant shopping malls and Walmart or Main Street and Hardware Hank? You choose with your vote.

If you enjoy working 2 or 3 jobs to pay your basic living expenses, vote Republican. If you believe that small business should be supported so that people can make a decent living off of one job - vote Democratic. It's time we started supporting people again and not just corporations.

Monday, June 20, 2011

An F.U. from Delta Airlines

Last week I did my yearly trip to visit family in remote South Dakota. There is no choice of airlines when one flies to these small airports and so I am stuck with Delta. I paid over $500 for my domestic coach ticket booked months in advance and could not afford another $50 for my one bag. So before the trip I pleaded with Delta to check my one bag for free. They, of course, denied my request saying they get lots of requests like mine. After my trip I sent them this follow up on my experience - their reply will follow.

Just one more comment then I'll stop bothering you. It's important for you to understand how your policies affect the travel experience. Here is how the baggage policy affected mine:
  • After paying over $500 for a domestic coach ticket - another $50 (round trip) for one bag was out of the question (we realize this makes room for more cargo for Delta to profit from - which is the point of the fees- right?)
  • I had to pack far fewer things to fit into a carry-on bag. My trip involved heavy labor which required me to do laundry several times during the 10 day visit due to no clean clothes.
  • I had a seat on Zone 4 - the last to board. All the luggage racks were full so I had to put my bag in a place near the back of the plane. While deplaning I had to wait for all those people in the back of the plane to exit before I could get my bag. MANY others had to do the same thing and some were not as patient - dodging between people to get back there (probably tight connections)
  • I arrived at gate G in Minneapolis - departing from gate B - that's a heck of a long walk carrying a heavy bag - trams were not running.
  • I had to use the restroom several times during the 4 hour layover which required putting my bag on the filthy floor so as to not leave it un-attended (many others had to do the same - making for an un-sanitary aircraft I'm certain)
  • After carting my now filthy bag around for 4 hours I was told it wouldn't fit on-board the smaller plane and they had to put it in the lower level anyway!!! This was not a large bag - just a standard duffel bag.
  • A similar experience happened on the return trip.
If Delta - and the other airlines that charge for the first checked bag think this makes for a pleasant travel experience they are sadly mistaken. It should be noted that the rest of the flight and the crew were all very nice but I'll remember this negative experience the next
time I book a flight with carrier options.

Delta's Response

Thank you for your additional comments concerning our recent exchange of e-mails.

Thank you for your comments regarding our baggage fees you were charged during your recent travel with us. We certainly understand your concern surrounding the addition of our baggage fees; however, Delta must be prudent and run our business in a way that ensures we are here to bring you to your favorite destinations for a long time to come.

We appreciate your thoughts on Delta's products and services and hope for your understanding as we do our best to remain a strong carrier able to serve our customers all over the globe.

We appreciate your business and look forward to seeing you on your next Delta flight.

So there you have it folks. As is typical of most major corporations today there is no need to keep customers happy - profit is the only motive. On Delta Airlines we are not people but cargo. I saw a notice painted on the side of the plane while boarding touting their Fortune 500 status. that's just good business! I would have been more impressed with a favorable rating from Good Housekeeping or some other customer based publication.

Just a side note - last year when the fees were $15 for the first checked bag I opted to have it checked. But that didn't leave Delta room for more cargo - so they raised the fees to the point where typical people can't afford it anymore.