Small Business Saturday – Another Shopping Holiday?

When more than 50% of the workforce in the United States works in a Small Business1, it’s no wonder that American Express’s wildly-catchy Small Business Saturday has joined the shopping Holiday Season immediately following Black Friday, the Saturday before Cyber Monday.

141125 SBS-AX imagePre-Black Friday – Opinions?

The mega-companies that have been trying to up the stakes and increase Our Calendars’ real estate for their marketing and spending of Holiday Season dollars that they “own” in the season of buying where “the best deals” are offered have been plagued with the fruits of their labor…namely their labor issues, public-created mob mentalities with SUPER-early store openings on Black Friday (even as far ahead as “the day before” – Thanksgiving Day) and rock-bottom pricing, and the fallout from companies that provide products that are just released and fighting to get shelf space and air-time for their commercials…by starting the shopping Season earlier.

Personally, I have always worked in the customer/guest service industry and have been working on holidays as long as I can remember.  When I gained enough seniority to be able to pick a holiday that I wanted to be “off”, I always picked Thanksgiving.  To me, Thanksgiving is a time to be WITH family and friends and enjoy the many wonderful blessings and fortunes that we have amassed throughout the year – a good harvest, to be acknowledged and enjoyed by all…no matter how epic or quaint the celebration.

Complaints by employees and customers alike of super-chains like Walmart, Target, Macy’s…to name a few…that will be open on Thanksgiving Day around 5pm or 6pm makes people start wondering about the fairness of it all.  Websites and Facebook Pages dedicated to supporting businesses who treat their employees in a more traditional sense – letting them be with their families ON the holiday itself – are springing up.  They are eager to promote personal time spent at home, with families, and promulgators and critics supporting family values by listing the stores, in their local areas, that will be open for business.  This serves two purposes:

  1. it tells people who do want to break away from tradition for shopping, where to shop on Thanksgiving; and,
  2. it tells people who do not want to break away from Tradition where NOT to shop on any other day of the upcoming & soon-to-follow shopping Holiday, if visibly ‘not supporting’ those non-Traditional companies is their goal.

Another ploy for your holiday dollars?

I think the media and marketing mogul mayhem created by this frenzied, fanatical firestorm is a choice of the American Consumer – it is an environment that is created by giga-companies, but can be tamed and diminutized by the patrons of these giga-companies.  I found an interesting analysis of the past 6-8 years’ trend of holiday shopping windows of time becoming earlier…and more spread out…to get away from the mayhem.  And: what is the ‘hourly changing of prices’ the author is referring to?  Wicked…and not Customer- or Experience-Oriented.

But, still: is Small Business Saturday just another ploy to garner your hard-earned dollars?

To me, American Express made an investment in one of the fastest-growing markets in America today – small business owners – when they made popular, through marketing and strategic social media alliances, their campaign back in 2010.

You may not know this, but American Express invested in small businesses through social media that has brought attention and notoriety to brick and mortar establishments that would otherwise be lost in the fray of the larger, giga-companies whose practices seem to reflect the nature of their sizeable beast.

Click on the image to enlarge @ Column Five Media

Click on the image to enlarge @ Column Five Media

I think small businesses today, and in the foreseeable future, offer a personalized touch that aims to support not only their own families and employees, but also the neighborhoods’ efforts to build community and a sense of belonging – a value that the giga-companies strive to but seemingly and evidentially do not achieve as a whole.

So, Yes: it is an awareness campaign that seeks to draw attention to smaller companies and highlight the features and benefits of becoming familiar with and a regular part of the community in which a customer lives.

Remote, a number, a statistic, a target, a segment, an audience: these are all phrases and senses of identity that alienate a customer when folded into the theories and practices of capitalism from a skyscraper’s corner, window office.  These are practices of giga-companies and there is no way around it – it is their nature.  To manage such enormous expectations of service and protection from liability, these terms become every day terms of endearment for their customers.

Discovering Value – “on Sale”…or not

When a person shops local, buys local, and reinvests locally, with a known, well-reputed small business, they are building experiences that put themselves in the context of community, confidence, commiseration, and collaboration.

There are over 22 million self-employed small businesses in the United States2 – over 50% of the working 120 million individuals in the U.S. work in a small business3.

The internet is such a great place to discover small businesses these days – from reviews by real people (read “why they’re important”, at Milo), to product availability and delivery to your door, virtual tours of establishments, to video interview with the owners themselves, discovering local businesses has never been more accessible…and desired by customers and residents in the neighborhood (see infographic Figure).

Shameless plug for Hands In Motion Therapeutic Massage services

I invite you to celebrate small businesses – When it comes to investigating and investing in your health, discover if massage therapy is a part of your health care goals.  Read about massage, about me, my client testimonials and reviews on Yelp, and contact me, via email or give me a call, if you want to know more about my practice, schedule an appointment, or get a referral to a qualified healthcare practitioner – I will do my best to make sure your needs are fulfilled.

To help you understand massage and my practice a little better, I am offering a $20 savings on your next 60-minute massage with me in December – regular price: $70.  I come to your home with table, linens, music, and an eclectic style of massage that integrates all the modalities you might need to relax, relieve pain, or mentally restart your kinetic chain or neural patterning.

I look forward to seeing you for your massage – the sooner, the better!

Click HERE to schedule your December #SmallBusinessSaturday Signature Massage

SNEAK PEEK at HIM’s November 29th-ONLY #SmallBusinessSaturday Special!

#SBS Signature Massage – 60 mins

_______________________________________________________________________

A therapeutic massage that is developed specifically for you, based on your needs at the time of session.  Utilizes a variety of modalities, including: Swedish, Russian Sports, Trigger Point Therapy, and Structural Integration, to name a few.  Deep or Moderate pressure are always optional and included in this eclectic method.

60 minutes – $50

No other discounts or promotions/programs apply – One per client, please. Location of outcall massage must be within HIM’s business license jurisdictions (Cities of Las Vegas, Henderson, and Clark County – map) and is based on availability (appointment only).  IS TRANSFERRABLE.  MUST be used by December 31, 2014 – if scheduled after, regular pricing (“$70”) applies – you may pay the difference upon delivery of service. Ω

 

1 generally, less than 500 employees – more: https://www.sba.gov/content/what-sbas-definition-small-business-concern
2 according to Forbes in a Sep 2013 publication – Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonnazar/2013/09/09/16-surprising-statistics-about-small-businesses/
3 according to Forbes in a Sep 2013 publication – Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonnazar/2013/09/09/16-surprising-statistics-about-small-businesses/

Victims Speak Out – Massage Therapy: “Under Fire”

The massage therapy industry is under fire in Las Vegas.

So, what else is new?  “Sin City” has a reputation for providing The Unscrupulous ways to satisfy their deep, dark desires, whims, and habits.  Massage Therapy is used as the face of some less-than-virtuous ways of enjoying what the City of Las Vegas, its surrounding wildlife and lands, and neon culture have to offer.  Massage Therapy, as an industry and a profession, is again, based on the public response from KTNV’s “Contact 13 Investigates” story about questionable corporate practices at Las Vegas Valley Massage Envy locations, defending itself against a negative public perception.  The story ran first on May 1, 2014, during their live action newscast, part of a Series presentation called “When Massage Becomes Misconduct”, focusing on Las Vegas Valley Massage Envys.

Watch this video, then please continue reading140501 KTNV Contact 13 story

 

Before I try to address what is really going on in the publication of this story, please know:  I am not and haven’t been an employee of or investor in Massage Envy.  I am not a representative for any law enforcement agency.  I do not know any of “the players” in this story.  But I am a concerned citizen – for the rights of potential and the alleged victims in this story.  I am also a pro-active Massage Therapy professional and Nevada State Board of Massage Therapists-licensed massage therapist (NVMT.103).  Oh: and I have an opinion, with some solution.

Please allow me to make some distinctions via definition for some of the terms I will use here:

  • Company – Massage Establishment
  • LMT – NSBMT-licensed Massage Practitioner
  • Complaining Client – customer who lodges a service complaint with a Company
  • Accusing Client – massage recipient/client who files/has filed criminal or civil charges against an LMT

I think, in our industry especially, any company that receives an first-time complaint against an employee LMT should investigate it internally and Play It Safe. There is no “report of criminal activity” by the company because they are not the Victim nor is there a law (that I am aware of) that requires employer to report “suspect LMTs” to the Business License Department, but I think Massage Envy [ME] has a franchise policy of “zero tolerance” for their employees already. Yes, the LMT/employee may not get the benefit of any doubt as to the veracity of the complaint…and that is another issue [if they are terminated over a complaint]: one the LMT would take up with an complaining client in a civil case. If the complaining client (based on the legally-consequential nature of the complaint), after being advised by the company of their options (in writing, too) to report the alleged ‘complaint’ additionally as a crime committed by the LMT, chooses NOT to pursue legal action, then the company is not legally bound to report the criminal act because they are not the victim. If the complaining client pursues criminal accusation and the LMT is convicted of a crime, then the company has ‘no choice’ (in my head) but to terminate employment (and according to their own company policy) – they, themselves, cannot pursue a criminal case against the LMT. Without a registered client accusation, This is a civil case. If (a franchisee of) ME is found to be negligent, then it is also a civil case.

The company may, but IMHO not successfully, pursue a civil action against the convicted LMT if libel or defamation of reputation is incurred by the company. Who knows? Maybe that is what we hope can be established…but not until fair notice and counseling for employment is documented. Apparently, ME as a franchiser has a “Zero Tolerance” policy, which is a great statement, but they seem to not be living up to it at the news-story-targeted locations. Sometimes, news stories like these will put the franchisees under investigation by the company (Franchiser) and they may lose their franchise if not following contracted agreement, but the franchisee will not be responsible for a single LMT’s actions. I suspect that the franchisee will take the entire responsibility/consequence for re-employing, with documented counseling of the LMT prior, but ME’s lack of organizational oversight (because maybe there is a lack of network information for the re-employing franchisee) may be where the blame is set, finally. Again, This is a civil case.

If the company does not Play It Safe and counsel effectively OR terminate, the company becomes at risk for the accused LMT to be accused again. They cannot announce to every subsequent client that the LMT they are about to get a massage from has been accused (or complained against by another client) of criminal behavior – it is not their responsibility to announce an alleged perpetrator if they continue to employ a “suspect”. It is not the company’s responsibility when an LMT commits crimes – that is why we have a board for Massage Therapists, not Massage Establishments (and their owners) – if Nevada did, then the MEs featured in this story would be under investigation by the NSBMT (…for hiring/employment practices? that’s more likely an SOS function…). Massage Envy is one of the last places anyone expects to find criminals, which is why this story is so interesting – it’s the patrons and professionals that have conspiracy-theory attitudes that fuel the publicity derived from the fear developed in the telling of this story.

We all tend to like to be judges – we have seen the limited, edited testimony of the alleged victims…in the agendized new story. We all tend to want to convict the accused and alleged LMT(s) in the court of public opinion. But it remains to be seen that the LMT(s) are guilty, and that is only done by investigation and hearing/trial, and That isonly done if/when a criminal case is opened by the victims. This story is an example of civil unrest – and one certain way to resolve it to, again, show the public that companies are responsible, for the public’s sake and in my opinion, is to have ME conduct an internal investigation and publish its result(s)…and probably get a follow-up story done by the news station. 

Establishing that the LMTs in question are criminals is the key – complaints will take those victims nowhere, accusations will.


 

Here are some steps (but may not include all) in how to get the ball rolling for avoiding or accusing a perpetrator that violates professional and business massage therapy laws:

Before an Incident:

  1. Use a reputable company’s/organization’s Referral System for Finding A Massage Therapist, if you are starting from scratch: [for National searches: (use AMTA) (use ABMP) (use NCBTMB) (use Better Business Bureau)]  [for review-based searches: (use Yelp) (use TripAdvisor) (use Angie’s List)]
  2. Check the license status of a Licensed Massage Therapist in Nevada at the Nevada State Board of Massage Therapists – “Active” means the Licensee is registered and legally-allowed and -qualified to practice massage therapy.
  3. Use a search engine* to “research” your Licensed Massage Therapist; discover more about your LMT than just a license number:  is their advertising consistent, therapeutic in nature, and do their goals as your practitioner match your therapeutic goals by getting a massage?  (use Google) (use Bing)
  4. Contact and interview your Licensed Massage Therapist by phone prior to your massage therapy session.
*your search engine’s settings will determine individual results

During an Incident:

  • Yell out for help,
  • Exit the room or get out of range of the perpetrator,
  • Call 9-1-1

After an Incident:

Read the Nevada Revised Statute (laws) and Nevada Administrative Codes regarding regulation and rules for behavior for Licensed Massage Therapists;

  • If you believe the offending LMT has broken a professional license/regulatory law, fill out this Complaint Form at the Nevada State Board of Massage Therapists website.

Additionally, If you believe the offending LMT has broken a jurisdictional/criminal law (some NV jurisdictions’ websites), call the police non-emergency line (3-1-1 OR (702) 828-3111) and/or go into a police station (map) to file your report.


In my opinion, this story just puts the “news” spotlight on a wrongly-intended outcome – will raking ME over the coals stop or greatly reduce the number of sexual assault victims in the industry and profession? Maybe in the organization of ME, and that can be our first stand: to establish and support well-known, public companies that represent the industry/profession. I think ME is doing a fine job of being that face for massage therapy professionals, in spite of what a news outlet reports: only one side of the story so far.

The integrity of all massage therapists is not at stake or at risk, unless we falter and don’t believe what we are doing helps people, our clients/patients. The profession is tarnished and a company is cracked with this news story, but shining & repair is inevitable if we all are to survive an unwitting blow to our reputations as facilitators of health. Regaining trust and re-establishing confidence can only be accomplished by maintaining the strict line of therapeutic relationship and practicing (sometimes more noticeably [, now]) the ethics and standards of practice that the public (and professionals, alike) recognize as constitutional and trustworthy. Helping our clients understand what to do in a situation like these victims may have experienced is one of the best ways to communicate that we, each one of us that educates in this fashion, are NOT “those LMTs”. Here are some ways to hold the line:

  • Making public statements against crimes that are known to be and are regularly publicized and associated with our profession/industry is a very good thing
  • Allying, as a massage therapy professional/business, with organizations whose agendas refute and take action against prostitution (in SoNV, especially) and human trafficking
  • Using pro-therapeutic and legally-required verbiage in our advertisements,
  • Following the law(s) explicitly regarding scope and jurisdictional practices,

These are all ways we can regain the trust of our clients and never lose our integrity.

Practitioner Safety Measures in the Wake of ‘Masseuse’ Murder

Philip Markoff, accused of robbing, assaulting, and murdering Julissa Brisman on April 14th, has been arrested and held without bail, pending an investigation that provides enough evidence to bring him to trial.  Amongst the other items found relating to his alleged crime in his home was a semi-automatic pistol that may have been used during the crimes he’s been accused of committing – another victim, who survived his alleged robbery and assault by Markoff, has come forward with her story.

Read more about the current state of the case here (on MSN.com news).

The common thread in Markoff’s suspected attempted robberies and assaults, and in the last case: murder, is the method of contact for the claimed ‘masseuses’ he was contacting for services: Craigslist.  Thus, he has been dubbed the “Craigslist Killer” by the media – and massage therapy is involved, as well.

It is unclear to authorities at this time as to which section of Craigslist that he obtained contact information for the victims, but contact was initiated through email first, then by phone.  All reports indicate there was a massage table, set up, in the room in Boston, but it was also indicated that Brisman rented the room in the upscale hotel under her name.

In a recent email sent to members of the AMTA, they explain that, in response to many questions coming into their organization from members about the murder and assaults; they are “continuing to research means to have Craigslist remove all advertising that links massage to illegal activity.  This includes ongoing contacts with national, state and local law enforcement agencies.”  AMTA also states that in November 2008, 40 states’ Attorneys General came to an agreement with Craigslist site owners to “clean out prostitutes and posters of other illegal activity.”  The efforts and results of the site owners have a long way to go.

Law Enforcement is encouraging any victims of assault or robbery through Craigslist or any other means of contact with a massage therapist or person that’s been a victim of crime to come forward, make their complaint, and allow law enforcement to do their job of protecting citizens from violent crimes.

As a concerned MT in an industry that is constantly fighting the battle for its own identity, disassociating itself with illicit behavior and prostitution, I STRONGLY encourage massage business owners to be aware of their surroundings, situation, and who their client really is (to the best of their ability), and act on your gut.  Intuition is often neglected or ignored and can be a driving mechanism that keeps an MT out of harm’s way…if acknowledged AND acted upon.

How do I ‘know’ who my client is?safety01-588x400

I get new clients by referral from people that are already clients or whom I already know.  It never hurts to talk about what you do or start a conversation about massage with someone (a friend, family member, or co-worker) who will ultimately remember you as an MT and refer new clients to you regularly.  Offer an incentive to referrers to ‘help’ their memory remember you as an MT when the time is right.

I do not advertise on Craigslist or in the yellow pages, so my risk is not as high for getting in touch with people I do not know.  But I was almost a victim of fraud (that would have cost me thousands), almost been in a situation where I would have worked and not been paid, and almost been assaulted, several times.

Here are a few of my suggestions for how I know to follow my gut AND end a session when I felt it was needed (for my own personal safety):

Before The Session

How did you get your call? In spas and places of business, it’s a little easier to see them coming.  Listen for requests for a specific type of therapist:  Blonde, a particular nationality, even gender are some signs to make an MT aware of potential misconduct.  In private practice, asking “how did you hear about me?” should be answered immediately and without hesitation, as most calls are made soon after trying to find an MT by conventional advertisement means.

Do you ‘walk the talk?’ Making your client aware of your intent for the session prior to (like on the phone, talking about what they want out of the massage or what areas they want worked on) and immediately prior to (like on an intake form) the session.  Many therapists also state that it is a ‘non-sexual’ massage:  I really cringe at this statement, because if there is a question or the MT has had experiences in the past with [attempted] sexual assault or innuendo, then part of the problem could be that there may not have been effective communication prior to the session, either through advertising, conversation, or other written forms of informed consent about the session.

Do you confirm your appointments? Restating your intent by verbally recognizing the massage needs of the client on the phone the day before the appointment reaffirms your intent and the fact that you’ve ‘got their number.’  If you are responding to a call the same day, you may verify their number by calling back, something you might make a habit for every client, but especially those of whom you may be suspicious.  Remember: the gut never lies.

Do you take credit cards? Another way to identify the person with whom you are doing business is to take credit card payments…and require them for everyone whom you do not know initially, or maybe for everyone in general, or for only outcalls, or for whomever you think needs to have their identity bolstered a little more.  The cost of taking a credit card varies, but I think the cost of doing business will pay for itself if you have even 1 fraudulent or non-payment per year.  Credit cards require the person holding the card to be the cardholder and to actually have the card in their hand.  Further verification of cardholder information is open to you as a merchant and requires you’re asking for their ID and the credit card used to verify identity of the cardholder to the purchase by way of codes on the card, signature, and embossed names.  I use Paypal: free, effective for encrypted purchases (from the client’s standpoint), and secures information about the purchaser – a paper trail.

During The Sessionsafety02-588x400

Got Buddy? If you are not communicating with someone that you know or whom is outside of the actual session, you may consider harnessing the power of the ‘buddy system’ when going to outcall massage sessions.  Call your Buddy while you’re in the room:  let your client know you have to check in with your Buddy/spouse/friend/etc and that the phone call/text will just be a moment.   You can do it while you’re washing up, but it is important to let your client know that you are in contact with someone who knows where you are and what time you are to be done with the session.

Especially for those going to hotels where environment is not as under control as the client you are meeting for the first time (or subsequently), checking in with the front desk or concierge may be your best buddy, as they are a direct line to help when you need it.  By them knowing you are there and what time you should be down to check in with them again after the session, they can be the fastest and most secure way of assuring that assistance is close by.  Also, if you confirm the guest name on the room (that you were told by the client), then that could be another way to dispel any suspicions.  The agent will not tell you what the room is, in case it is not the same, so be sure to ask the client PRIOR to asking the front desk in whose name the room is listed, in case the client’s name is not the same on the room.

Mobile Phone as luggage. Take your cell phone with you – in a spa, this is not possible for liability reasons…but, if you are a private practitioner, it is a necessity for safety reasons.  You may ‘appear’ to be confirming your location and attendance in the session, in front of the client, as part of your process when you go to a hotel room by calling or texting a buddy – or you may [i]actually[/i] be calling/texting someone of your location.  In case of emergency, it may be the only/fastest way for you to get in contact with someone.

Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign. The client is showing signs of committing or commits the act – STOP THE SESSION!  Go outside your Self, Go outside your ego, practice doing this outside the situation by having the conversation with another professional or confidant.  When it happens, STOP THE SESSION!  If you are in imminent danger, flee.  If you are not sure of the intent of the client, pack up and leave.  If you decide to ask for or wait to collect your money – if you haven’t already collected it – you are taking an unnecessary risk – your safety is worth more than your fee for one massage session!

These are just a few things that you can do to help keep you safe and practicing without risk of mental or physical harm.  If you have any things that you use to assure you peace of mind when working with clients whom you do not know (or even know), post them here – it’s sure to help out someone to see many different successful ways of being safe.

Models from Abroad Strike Again!

In my experience, which does not include losing thousands of dollars like other MTs around the U.S. but right up to that “point of no return,” the following email has not the scent of an Italian model, but rather that of a rat.

I have 8 unique attempts at fraud in my file – unique in their origin, but very common in their M.O. The following email is another attempt. Some key elements of this type of email fraud that I’ve found evident in every fraudulent email are:

  • Non-Domestic – best characterized by the email domain that is not .com, .net, .us, .biz, .info, .org, .gov (or other “dot” that you recognize more often), and also characterized by the broken English writing & unofficial “official” statements [like the “confidentiality” statement at the end of this email],
  • Model – the model him/herself or their agent (friend, manager, travel agent) is not necessarily a model, but is someone travelling from abroad to Nevada,
  • “U.S.” is where they are traveling to – a specific address is never stated as to where they will be staying so you can go to them to do your massage, and they most likely will agree to come to you,
  • Referral – they will mention that they got your name from someone else that knows of you, but your name will never be used in the email (unless you give it to them),
  • Introduction & Correspondence emails are different – the introduction email is a template filled in with basic information they have about the state you’re in; the city and your name remain unknown and unacknowledged by the writer (unless you give it to them).

Here’s the Email:

From: marcetocca@tiscali.it [mailto:marcetocca@tiscali.it]
Sent: Wednesday, November 05, 2008 1:04 PM
Subject: Massage Inquiry
Hello,
How are you today? My name is Mrs Marcella Fedelle, i live and work here in italy, i am 36yrs old. I have been doing massage since 1989. I do a deep relaxation massage in which the muscles relax without pain, I also do energy massage that helps people feel great when I am done. I am certified to do pregnancy massage .I have lots of happy clients here in italy , I have a client Miss Alessandra Amato A Model here in italy ,She will be coming to the U.S in three weeks time for a modeling job and she will be residing in Nevada temporarily until the neccesary arrangement for her job has been made before she leaves,she will be needing massage therapy 1hr session three times a week for one month
Miss Amato asked me to come with her to the US but i told her i would not be able to go with her to the US as i have a course i will be going for in a week time and the course will last for three months.So i promised to help her get a good practitioner in your Area.
I have been looking for a massage therapist for over two weeks till i met an old friend Mrs Jessica Claire at the Cosmetic Surgery And Beauty Conference that was held over the weekend in Milano. I spoke with her about my client and was referred to you. She gave me your referral.
Pls tell me a little more about yourself,how long have you been a massage therapist?and would you be able to provide her massage therapy?
I will also need you to get back to me with the amount you charge per session and also let me know if she can pay you via Us Certified Cashiers Check
Pls send your reply to my personal email address ( __________@yahoo.it ) because i do check it frequently.
Thank you very much and do have a nice day..
Marcella Fedelle
Via Cusani, 26
20123 Milano ,
Italy
———————————–CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE:——————————————————The information contained in this email is privileged and confidential, and is intended only for the use of the individual or entity named above. If you are not the intended recipient, you are notified that any disclosure,copying,distribution, electronic storage or use of this communication is prohibited. If you receive this communication in error, please notify us immediately by email, attaching the original message, and delete the original message from your computer and any network to which your
Telefona e naviga senza limiti con Tiscali Voce 8 Mega a soli € 15 al mese per i primi 12 mesi. In seguito paghi € 29,90 al mese. Attiva entro il 6/11/08!
_______________________________________________________________

The idea and the M.O. is for you to agree to perform a series of massages, “costing” them $500+, usually in the thousands. You will give them a bill prior to meeting them, and they agree to send you a certified or cashier’s check. You get the check, never performing the services, and they ask you to deposit it, because… due to the mistaken travel arrangements with the agent, you’ve been overpaid through the check that has been cut and it on its way to you. They want you to deposit the check and send the difference to someone else. To incent you, you can keep a couple hundred “extra” (in addition to your bill) for your trouble.

Unfortunately, the official-looking check you deposited 30 days ago will be returned to your bank and you will owe the bank the amount of money for which the fraudulent check was written. You will have written a “good” check and mailed it to the travel agent for the thousands in difference on the “official” check, that same check will have cleared your account, and you will have never seen your “client” because they postponed their trip. You will probably never get to do your massage with them.

Ways to say no:

  1. “no.”
  2. “no, thank you.”
  3. “I’m sorry: I don’t take checks.”
  4. “I’m sorry: I don’t take checks from people I’ve just met and/or that don’t have a NV ID/DL.”

To read more about this method of email fraud, visit Wikipedia’s page that describes this and most types of fraud: Advanced Fee Fraud

To understand what the Federal Trade Commission is doing about email scams or to report an attempt, please visit their website.

Bugs & the Bux: Old Dog Learns New Trick

“Please explain the primary reason you were not highly satisfied with the accuracy of your order.”

Now, doesn’t this seem like a ridiculous or nit-picky question to ask on a customer survey?

To me, it does…here’s why:

I’ve been in customer service my entire life – haranguing people about their experience to a depth that Sigmund Freud would think is intrusive is not a characteristic I appreciate in a company or the person asking for the feedback. Remember the dog in the Bugs Bunny cartoons that always asked Bugs (his prey) “Which way did he go, George? Which way did he go?” with the adorable, yet annoying repetition and cadence that got you confused as to whether or not to feel sorry for the dog? I am Bugs Bunny and Starbucks (my long time favorite) is the dog.

Here’s my “ ‘Dat way…” response:

Highly satisfied would mean that I know the formulated way that the drink is made and that I also know that the barista, tweaked it, changing it to my specific taste, which I’ve never done (because I never was highly satisfied with a particular way a barista made my formulated drink, enough for me to stop and ask them “how did you just make my drink – I am highly satisfied” and then go on to continue to order an iced coffee in the exact same way, outside normal protocol and to my exact taste, in which case I would be “highly” satisfied each time I ordered it in that fashion) and being satisfied is like being pregnant, either you are or you’re not – there are no viable degrees of satisfaction when you are considering accuracy – either it’s accurate or it’s not. If I was served a caramel Frappuccino instead of my iced coffee, the order would be inaccurate and I could be highly dissatisfied with the entire visit, so accuracy and inaccuracy are really not in grades.”

The Bux is willing to give a free Tall drink, though, for their annoyance of completing a 5-minute (that’s a SUPER long time in the online world) online survey. That is what surveys are today for many customers: annoyances. I am rarely annoyed when I am asked to give a reasonable amount of time to feedback AND don’t have to give me email address: this is the case with the recent ploy by the Bux to get their data, called a Survey. By the way, Panda Express gives a free $1.25 entrée when you complete their online survey, too. Those that know me can assume that I like a good survey or two, especially if I think it will help a business that I like a lot or a person that is sincere in asking.

So, the businesses (en masse) asking for these random experiences to be quantified through filled bubbles and taken keystrokes are proving, to me at least, that they are willing, now, to pay for the respondent’s time. I have actually had my time paid for by Starbucks in “free drink” coupons by waiting too long for a drink at both drive-up and lounge windows. And, to get you back in, concerned and great customer service-oriented businesses will give something free to take the chance that you’ll buy something else while you’re there.

But, really: Asking a caffeine addict if they want free caffeine is like asking a crack addict if they want a hit…quite literally. They will come back, because they have no choice. Starbucks is my favorite crack…-aHem-…I mean, coffee shop.