Reflections on Current Business Practices Influenced by Today’s Culture

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With New Year coming tomorrow, my resolution is not to let the foibles of life, its inconsistencies, and common slights not bother me.  I hope to make it to February but will be surprised if I don’t.

So to start out with a clean slate, I thought I would list my current Top 10 to flush them from my mind.

1.  Hertz Car Rental – In 2021, we rented 20 cars on various client business trips. With nearly 15,000 Rewards, we were unable to utilize those reward points (750 for a free day) in every instance due to “BLACKOUT DATES.”  While I realize and am sympathetic to the fact that Hertz is in bankruptcy, I was hoping to use some of the points.

2.  United Airlines – The value of United  Mileage Plus points continues to be diluted.  A decade ago, you could derive $0.04 on the dollar when redeeming upgrades on United.  Today, if you are able to redeem at all, you are lucky to get $0.01 on the dollar.  United usually doesn’t release business class seats until 7 days before the flight.  We tried to find two business class seats to Bilboa, Spain in May to join a Perry Golf Tour with some friends from England.  The miles required were 620,000.  The merger of Continental with United has a significant impact on the redemption value of their loyalty program and the availability of upgrades.

What is even more disappointing is how United, as shown below, encourages one to buy miles at $0.04.

The spread between the purchase rate and the potential redemption rate almost borders on theft. We have read that the most profitable aspect of United is its loyalty program.  Not surprising why.

3.  Dillard’s Department Store:  The Park Meadows,  Colorado store during the holidays is conducting a sales contest for its employees by rewarding them for getting customers to sign up for a Dillard’s credit card. Every time a sales associate enrolls an unsuspecting customer who is the least likely to be able to pay the 29.4% interest, the Store management congratulates by name the employee over the public address system.  The apple doesn’t fall from the tree.  The Queen of the household took the Store Manager to task for such a blatant disregard for propriety.

4.  Starbucks:  On December 20, Starbucks discontinued the fabulous Berry Hibiscus Refresher.  Store employees were advised to “pour down the drain” the remaining concentrate that is a mixture of white grape juice and green coffee extract.  As a frequent customer at one store, the Manager was kind enough to give me, after I offered to buy all the inventory they had, four cartons on the concentrate.  At another store the Queen of the household visited, they gave her one carton of the concentrate.   We contacted Starbucks to see if we could buy the concentrate or obtain the name of the supplier.  No such luck.

You have to love free enterprise.  Starbucks employees across the nation “took home” the Berry Hibiscus Refresher concentrate and are now selling it on E-Bay as shown below:

 

We are able to buy 4 cartons on E-Bay for $15 per cartoon.

5.  Tipping – What happened to the standard of 10%, 15%, or 20% for exceptional service.  My wife and I ate at a Denver restaurant on December 17 and here is the suggested tip ranges that were printed on the bottom of the receipt: 20% – 22% – 25%:

Interestingly, the act of tipping is said to have started in feudal Europe, when strict social hierarchies prevented any real kind of social mobility and it was a common practice among aristocrats to tip servants. It wasn’t brought over to the U.S. until the 19th century and was only popularized after the Civil War. But in this country, instead of being additional compensation on top of a regular wage, it functioned as an immediate solution for employers who did not want to pay recently freed slaves.

I think it is my preference that all establishments raise their prices to embed a fair and appropriate gratuity for their staff in the base price – just like adopted by many of the finest private golf clubs.

6.  Sales – Black November, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Cyber Week, Free Shipping Day, Super Saturday, Boxing Day, Sale Extended, Buy 1 – Get One Free., 10% Off First Order, 20% Off for Automatic Monthly Shipments, Last Chance for a Discount on Your Cart, Free Two Day Air Shipping, 30 Days Money Back Guarantee, Pay for Shipping Only & 21 Days to Cancel Membership, get a $10 Bonus Card with $50 purchase, $20 GOLF Pro Shop Credit.

Retailers have trained the customer never to pay retail.

7.  Performance Golf Zone(Video Drill) Discover How To Create Lag Like Good Players Do. This video drolls on forever stating incessantly, “ We are going to reveal this tip that will increase your distance by 20 – 30 yards in a few moments.   Thirty minutes later – the tip is never revealed and the viewer is then encouraged to sign up for a membership in which the tip is to be revealed.  Clearly a false and misleading presentation you would expect to see on TV at 2 a.m.

Nick Faldo also has a video that promises an additional 30 years off the tee.   A protracted presentation to entice the viewer to sign up for a membership. They would be far better to lead with the membership off up front rather than deceiving the viewer the tip is contained with the sales promotion video.

Charles H. Duell was the Commissioner of the U.S. patent office in 1889. Commissioner Duell is widely quoted as having stated that the patent office would soon shrink in size, and eventually close, because:  “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”

I feel that way about golf tips.  Joe Assell, GOLFTEC founder once told me that for the majority of established players, no matter how much they practice, they have a potential range of improvement of only about 8 strokes due to physical limitations and natural athletic ability, or the lack thereof.’

8.  John E. Kaminski, Ph.D., Professor and Associate Head, Department of Plant Science, Director, Golf Course Turfgrass Management Program, Penn State University. On an overnight flight with a six-hour layover between midnight and 6 a.m., he goes on a Twitter rant wanting a refund of his American Airlines Admiral Club membership because the lounge was not open in which he could get a cup of coffee and some food.

My response to his Twitter public comments that his expectation was unrealistic, especially in the COVID era of reduced flights to which he responded:

It is hoped that what I perceive to be his narcissistic behavior is not taught by him at Penn State to the future leaders in golf course agronomy and maintenance as an acceptable practice.

9. Jen Santos, Assistant Director of Park, City of Santa Rosa, publishes an RFP in which attendance is required to be eligible to submit a proposal to which garnered responses from potential bidders.  A follow up by an industry vendor confirmed the requirement as illustrated below:

NGF Question

Is it possible to send a local NGFC (sub) representative to the mandatory site visit, or does the main bidding company representative need to attend?

Santa Rosa Answer

A representative from the Firm submitting the proposal must attend the site visit to participate in submitting a proposal. Sub consultants may attend but may not represent the primary Firm submitting a bid.

When only one firm had a representative in attendance on September 8, 2021, she waives the requirement after the fact violating procurement laws, and never amends the published documents citing the requirement.

Considering their restaurant has been closed for over 18 months, the Pro Shop concession contract expires on June 30, 2022, and the course has a plethora of deferred landscaping including numerous tree stumps that need to be ground and blackberry bushes removed, this is a perfect example of where a municipality should not be in the ownership of a golf course.

10.  JJ Keegan.  I thoroughly enjoy playing golf with women, juniors, and new entrants to the game regardless of their ability.  Collectively, as a group, they recognize their foibles and are merely out to have fun, are courteous, and play relatively quickly considering how many times they are slaying at the ball.  Conversely, I can’t stand recreational golfers who can’t break 90 and engage in the following idiosyncrasies on the golf course:

They:

a.  Get out of their cart when allowed on the fairway, walk more than 20 yards to their ball, look at their shot and then walk back to the cart to select a club rather than taking a couple of clubs with them.

b.  Use a handheld GPS standing by the cart when their cart has GPS accurately measured to the pin.

c.   Use a hand-held GPS inside of 50 yards.

d.   Drop a ball, particularly on Par 3, when they are not satisfied with their first shot and then play the first ball. 

e.   Are confused that the golf course is the driving range and take a plethora of practice shots during the round.

f.    Don’t pick up their ball when they have reached the maximum net USGA stroke limit for their handicap.

g.    Insist on putting out everything and mark their ball inside 18 inches stating that they play in a men’s or women’s league that requires it.  They want to get in the practice.  

h.   Log more airtime with their clubs than some short flights on United or frequently use profane language.

i.    Don’t order food in advance of the turn and then take more than 10 minutes to get a beverage and a sandwich.

j.   Order drinks from beverage cart attendants in the middle of the landing zone rather waiting to be served after they finished putting out on a hole.  Part of the fault here lies with the beverage cart attendant who doesn’t wait by the green or at the tee for the upcoming golfers.

I guess they all fall under one category – golf should be played in under four hours and anything that lengthens the time playing annoys me.  The harsh reality is that I doubt I will get over the above distracting me on the golf course.   Oh well.

Well, the New Year starts tomorrow, and my mind has been flushed by the 4th quarter irritations of 2021.   What are your resolutions?

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