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Business

October 13, 2014

"21 Scams Used By Devious Car Dealers — And How To Avoid Them"

In my experience buying a new car is definitely not fun. It's better than listening to a life insurance salesman pitching whole life insurance, but that's not saying much.

Some fine examples of the ugliness are in this piece. In my most recent experience, a few weeks ago, I encountered these three:

1. A car listed as "new" on the dealer's website had 4200 miles on it, but the sales manager informed me that it could be sold as new because "it has never been titled".

2. Seconds away from closing the sale at a price listed on the dealer website and agreed to by the salesman, the sales manager told me I'd have to pay $1500 more than that price. That price, as indicated by teeny, tiny print on a second page of the website--with no asterisk on the first page--included "all applicable discounts" such as $1000 off for owning one of the manufacturer's cars and $500 off for being a veteran. 

3. Almost all the dealers near me selling the make I was interested in had added several hundred dollars of "dealer options" which were heavily marked up and included such fabulous opportunities as a "rear bumper decal" for $75. This is to say nothing about the $500 "dealer prep" charge which every dealer added in. 

That said, the experience seems to be slowly improving. I found Truecar.com quite helpful. The Black Book assessment of my trade-in at, among other places, Cars.com was also helpful. I didn't use AAA's car buying service this time, but I had one excellent experience with them a few years back. 

Maybe in another ten or twenty years it'll be no more unpleasant than buying a refrigerator.

September 29, 2014

"The 'Coincidence' of CVS and Tobacco"

Surprise, surprise, there was plenty of politics involved.

With the federal government taking over a large share of the health care business through the new Affordable Care Act exchanges, providers such as CVS need to be in regulators' good books. CVS's drug business is at the mercy of regulators from the Food and Drug Administration, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and numerous other agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services and elsewhere.

The company is taking no chances that it could fall out of government's favor. CVS spent $13 million on lobbying in 2013, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, over 17 times as much as the firm spent in 2007.

September 26, 2014

"When we were small: Ben & Jerry’s"

Story of how the ice cream mavens got their start.

"Capitalism Is Saving the Climate, You Hippies"

"Protesters might have flooded Wall Street to demand a greener world, but Wall Street is financing the construction of a post-carbon economy in a way that government can’t."

September 24, 2014

"Most memorable resume lies"

Examples of what not to do.

September 15, 2014

Sounds like good news

"Why More MBAs Are Becoming Entrepreneurs Straight Out Of Business School".

A decade ago, nearly all b-school grads flocked to traditional corporate jobs in finance and management.

Today, however, a growing number of newly minted MBAs decide to start their own businesses or go to work for Silicon Valley startups

"This Technology Could Have The Biggest Impact On American Jobs Since Offshoring".

But 3D printing, which last fall Credit Suisse forecast could grow up to 30%, has the potential to reshape how America makes stuff, creating new high tech jobs in the U.S. and bringing old ones back from abroad.

September 09, 2014

"Job requirements are mostly fiction and you should ignore them"

I kinda suspected this, but it's nice to see some confirmation.

Hiring managers get overexcited and list too many things, even though only a few parts of the description are truly core. But the term “requirement” gets read very literally, and scares people off from jobs they could well get. Purcell actually doesn’t like to send specific job descriptions to clients for exactly that reason. The hiring process still is a very human one. Things like relationships, confidence, less definite skills, and proper presentation of experience make a difference and often can help candidates overcome a perceived shortage in qualifications.

August 14, 2014

"You Can Now Use Amazon To Book Your Next Home Improvement Project"

I look forward to the day when everything in retail is available through Amazon.

Hey, Amazon: how about you sell cars?

August 07, 2014

Two on Amazon

"A Rare Peek Inside Amazon’s Massive Wish-Fulfilling Machine".

Unlike past advances in retail gratification–the emergence of the supermarket in the mid-20th century, say, or the more recent rise to dominance of Walmart superstores–the workings of Amazon are almost entirely hidden from view. Amazon doesn’t want customers focused on the mechanics of its seemingly magical powers. But last month, the company gave WIRED a rare glimpse into one of the more than 90 warehouses it operates across the globe, looking to show that its fulfillment machine is finely tuned not just to serve Amazon itself but anyone else who wants to sell stuff on its site.

"Amazon, a Friendly Giant as Long as It’s Fed".

All of this angst and arguing is pushing forward a question: Is the resistance to Amazon a last-ditch bid to keep the future of American literary culture out of the hands of a rapacious corporation that calls books “demand-weighted units,” or an effort by a bunch of dead-enders and snobs to forestall a future that will be much better for most readers and writers?

Mr. Zandri, who 15 years ago had a $235,000 contract with a big New York house that went sour, has an answer.

“Everything Amazon has promised me, it has fulfilled — and more,” he said. “They ask: ‘Are you happy, Vince? We just want to see you writing books.’ That’s the major difference between corporate-driven Big Five publishers, where the writer is not the most important ingredient in the soup, and Amazon Publishing, which places its writers on a pedestal.”

August 06, 2014

"In Pittsboro and beyond, pining for floors from old tobacco barns"

Free enterprise is grand.

Grumette’s story speaks to the world’s unlikely curiosities: America’s richest now line their floors with pieces of the country’s agricultural past, much of it collected on North Carolina back roads.

This discarded wood that once dried tobacco or sheltered horses now commands at least four and sometimes 10 times the price of what you’d buy at Home Depot, made valuable both by the decades it survived and the care spent rescuing it from the fate of old things.

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