Service of Reading the Fine Print and Your Emails: Amazon’s Subscribe and Save Program

September 26th, 2016

Categories: Fine Print, Prices, Promotions

terms and conditions

I’m not a fan of automatic anything. When I buy OTC items from a drugstore website, I’m asked if I’d like a monthly order of shampoo, toothpaste, vitamins or makeup. No thanks.

So I didn’t know about Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program where people sign up to get repeat orders of staples like coffee or trash bags. It should be called Subscribe and Sometimes Save. It’s a great example of people signing up for something they haven’t looked into carefully and being duped into thinking they are always getting a good deal.

toothpasteAccording to Brian X. Chen in his New York Times article, “Subscribe and Save on Amazon? Don’t Count on It,” the company’s pricing model doesn’t always work out in the customer’s favor. “Any sticker shock, analysts said, may be the result of Amazon’s complex pricing system coming into conflict with consumer expectations of a traditional subscription.”

He wrote that Amazon “frequently adjusts item prices based on a sophisticated set of variables like supply and demand, time of day and prices offered by competitors.” He shared the insight of Jared Wiesel, a partner at consulting firm Revenue Analytics. It “is the company’s way of making it look as if you are always getting the best deal.”

chewing gumChen identified one customer who paid $10 for gum when signing up and was charged $100 on the repeat. “Prices of most items, including dishwasher soap and toilet bowl cleaner, changed frequently. As often as weekly, prices rose, dipped and rose again like a roller coaster. In extreme cases, prices for items like instant coffee and napkins jumped between 90 and 170 percent.”

  • A 30.5 oz tub of Folgers ranged from $6.64 in June to $12.50 in August.
  • Vanity Fair napkins moved from $7.94 in May to $21.46 in June/July and $15.36 in August.
  • More high/lows include an air purifier filter and humidifier filter, $18.06 to $33.24 and $$4.67 to $11.27 respectively.

Participants are given a chance to opt out. Amazon sends them an email 10 days before a delivery with the price they’ll be paying and they can cancel. I suppose not everyone reads them.

The trouble with the concept, according to Wiesel is: “I think they’ve violated the psychological concept of a subscription with their customers in changing prices like this. When people think of a subscription, they think of locking in a set cadence of receiving a good.”

Chen offers a solution: “If you truly want to save money on Amazon, one approach is to sign up for price alerts on Camel Camel Camel to get an email when a price drops to a desired amount. When that happens, manually reorder — yes, that’s an extra step — your instant coffee, toilet cleaner or lint rollers.” [Camel Camel Camel is an Amazon price tracker Chen explained.]

Why should Amazon change an eyelash on this or any other of its programs? In the last 17 months its stock price closed at a high of $800, more than doubling in 17 months.

Do you automatically receive anything from Amazon or any other company? Have you fallen for a deal that seemed great only to learn it’s more complicated—and not as great–as you first thought?

Camel

Service of Make it Clear and Keep Your Fingers Crossed

September 22nd, 2016

Categories: Art, Communications, Interior Designers, Miscommunication

Photo: theatlantic.com

Photo: theatlantic.com

 

Misunderstandings happen all the time between vendors who try to please and clients who hear what they hope or want to hear. Who knows who is right but clearly everyone can lose by winning.

In the first instance there’s Alec Baldwin and a well known New York art gallery owner Mary Boone. Baldwin “is suing Mary Boone in New York Supreme Court claiming the art dealer duped him into buying a $190,000 painting which was a copy,” wrote Hili Perlson on artnet.com

Alec Baldwin. Photo: ora.tv

Alec Baldwin. Photo: ora.tv

In 2010 Baldwin thought he bought Ross Bleckner’s 1996 painting “Sea and Mirror” owned by an “unnamed collector” and said he got “a different version” of a picture with the same title and that Boone had put the gallery inventory number of the original on the work he bought.

Through her lawyer the gallery owner said that “Baldwin was made aware from the start he was not getting the original 1996 version of the painting.” Nevertheless, Boone has offered a full refund.

But Baldwin wants more. Perlson wrote he wants: “the difference between the purchase price of the painting in his possession and the current value of the original Sea and Mirror, which was painted, as Baldwin claims, while Bleckner was at the height of his artistic career.”

I’ve written before about the second instance that is so fitting to the topic and worth a repeat. An interior decorator carefully explained to her client—in front of a third person—that fabricating stationary window panels instead of curtains would save on the cost of the very expensive drapery textile she’d chosen, with a drawback: The panels, she told this friend-of-a-friend, would not move and would not fully cover the window. The client was fine with the sketch and the savings and said she could live with the downside and the panels were ordered and installed.

stationary-drapery-panelArriving home and seeing the panels the client called the decorator in fury: “They don’t cover the window!” she fumed and said she wouldn’t pay for them. The third person, who had introduced the two, would not take sides.

Had the interior decorator asked her client to sign or initial the sketch she made on which she’d noted her warning that might have helped IF the client was willing to put her John Hancock to the sheet. [The client was a lawyer.] Had the gallery owner asked Baldwin to sign something that detailed what his $190,000 was getting him, his nose might have been out of joint, only earlier, perhaps avoiding the current muddle.

Proving a client/customer is wrong is messy and the worst business prescription. In the end it doesn’t matter how much paperwork a vendor has to prove a point unless the business retains pounds and pounds of legal support and has deep pockets budgeted for lawsuits. Apart from an airtight insurance policy to cover such misunderstandings, must most businesses expect to swallow such losses? Have you heard of similar examples?

Win by losing

Service of a Country Garage Sale Produced by a City Slicker

September 19th, 2016

Categories: Garage Sale, Promotions, Sales

Garage sale signs in trunk

I’ve always thought I’d have enjoyed–and if lucky, might have succeeded at–being in the retail industry. [Promoting new products for clients, which I’ve done for years, is on the cusp of the world of retail and doesn’t count.] So I didn’t reject as nuts my nephew Edward’s suggestion to conduct a garage sale. I didn’t have much time to pull it together—who does? Still I had fun. 

Garage sale kitchenWhat was most surprising?

  •  People came. We live on a quiet country road with microscopic through-traffic–few passers-by ever. The Craigslist posting and Garage Sale signs on the two roads that cap ours were most effective in alerting visitors as far as we could tell. I also wrote copy for a county garage sale site.
  • Edward predicted that people would take free stuff that had been left behind under a deck by a series of tenants, various construction projects and previous owners. He was right. He said folks would drive on the property with their pickups and so they did. Saved us from having to lug away stuff.
  • Garage Sale 2016 DumpsterThere was a dumpster outside the garage with plenty of things I’d rejected for the sale. [At one yard sale I attended I was alarmed by well-used bedroom slippers for sale. Yech. I wanted none of that at my sale.] Nevertheless, visitors jumped in and sorted through the dumpster as well. Some asked before doing so. Others just dove in. “Might I have your slides?” said one woman straddling four boxes from the period I was an Air Force wife living in Turkey. She said “people like travel slides.”
  • One woman buying two $2 wine glasses asked if I could wrap them. [Like everyone else, she arrived in a car with front and back seats to keep them apart and safe; did she think this was a boutique?] I wrapped–but wondered.
  • Hardcovers and paperbacks sold well. I charged $1 and 50 cents respectively. 

Some tips

  •  I was prepared for people to arrive early—David Reich gave me a copy of a New York Times article he’d written, “First Time for a Garage Sale,” where he reported early bargain hunters knocked on his door at 7:15 a.m. for a 10 a.m. sale. My earliest visitors came just before 9 and I let them in. [I posted my street signs at 6 a.m. and was raring to go.]
  • One of my customers told me that I should have saved the towels tossed in the dumpster to give to the local SPCA for the animals. He would have salvaged them, he said, but they were wet. Next time.
  • I was concerned about inviting strangers. What if one had nefarious plans to revisit us after the sale? Edward suggested I buy a “Beware of Dog” sign along with the “Garage Sale” signs. I did.
  • Speaking of signs, I didn’t notice until I wrote the address and time on them that the Garage Sale signs were not printed on both sides so I had to return to the store to get another set. Back-to-back they both fit in the metal braces that stick in the ground.
  • garage sale books turnedI priced cheaply. The idea was to find a home for things, not to make a killing. Several people told me I had priced well for a garage sale so I guess I got that right, though some left empty-handed. I grossed just under $600.
  • I wasn’t selling power tools but there were requests for these; for books about engineering that I didn’t have either and for anything—art or books—about the surrounding area. These I had and sold. Remember where you squirrel things.

Can you share your garage sale experiences as visitor or producer? Any great finds from yard or garage sales you’ve attended?

Garage sale art turned

 

Service of Bullying on and off the Political Stage

September 15th, 2016

Categories: Bully, Politicians, Politics, School

Photo: bully and the booger baby blog

Photo: bully and the booger baby blog

While the drastic impact and deadly repercussions of children bullying children is sadly so often in the news–a story in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal advised what to do if your child is a target–bullies of all shapes, sizes and ages have always existed.

My father didn’t speak much about his military service or later war experiences but one of the few stories he shared was about a bully in his basic training squadron. The fellow lost his terrorist status the morning the troops were lined up to receive an injection. He fainted when it was his turn. Amen.

Photo: wikihow.com

Photo: wikihow.com

Robert Reich, former US Secretary of Labor, professor and author knows something about being bullied. In a September 9 Facebook posting he wrote: “Because I’m very short, I was always bullied as a kid. I discovered that the best defense against bullies was to taunt them into revealing the weaknesses and insecurities that had made them into bullies.”

Photo: National Bullying Hotline

Photo: National Bullying Hotline

He continued, “After watching him for the past year, I’d guess [Donald] Trump’s weakness and insecurities have to do with his not feeling very intelligent, not feeling respected in the circles in which he craves respect, and not feeling he’s the man his father wanted him to be.”

Reich admits to the guess—his degrees and experience are not in the area of psychiatry. However with on-the-job training as a target he goes on to suggest a way to deflate the presidential candidate who flummoxes even the most high profile, experienced news people to silence when confronted with his bombast. Reich wrote: “Trump isn’t basing his candidacy on policies or facts, which the media are trained to probe. Trump is selling alpha-male strength and power. It’s a hoax, of course. Trump is just a garden-variety bully. But the media aren’t trained to expose this kind of hoax. In fact, the more Trump can bulldoze and belittle his interviewers, as well as Hillary Clinton, the more he appears to show strength and power.”

The solution? Reich suggested: “So questions from the media (and comments from Hillary) that provoke him in these areas will, I believe, cause him to expose the sham of his alpha-male strength and power.”

I’m not sure where Reich came up with his guess about Trump’s relationship with his father but the other two insecurities seem to fit. Do you agree? Have you known/worked with/been to school or lived with bullies? How have you dealt with them?

 

Photo: drawception.com

Photo: drawception.com

Service of Ingenuity

September 12th, 2016

Categories: City Living, Ingenuity, Traffic

Bike 1 turned

I love New Yorkers. They think of ingenious ways of making the city work for them. Sometimes, though, they are thrown a curve ball for which even the most resourceful have trouble coming up with solutions.

Bike 2 turnedFirst the resourceful. Just down from my office on 45th Street near Third Avenue is a bank of rental bikes locked into place. Pass it at lunch time and you’ll find citizens perching on and leaning against parked bicycles to eat, catch up on texts and emails, sip a soda, watch the world pass by or to simply sit in the shade in midtown during a break on a hot summer day. The price is right, there are others to chat with if you want—it works!

But it doesn’t always.

I’m a fairly street smart lifelong New Yorker and yet I still haven’t figured out a safe way to get in and out of the parking spaces cobbled out of avenues, such as First, to make it safe for bikers to travel next to the sidewalk. [I first wrote about the dangerous configuration in a post last October.] The photo below best illustrates the challenge.

I parked in one of these spots for the first time over the Labor Day weekend so there was little city traffic and yet my heart was in my throat as I backed in hoping that:

  • I was quick enough not to be hit by impatient oncoming traffic.
  • I was accurate enough when backing into the space perfectly on the first try and
  • I wouldn’t hit a bicyclist.

Parked cars 2 turnedWhen my passenger joined me he had to dash across the bicycle lane, [looking both ways as bicyclists ignore traffic rules], and into the avenue to the passenger door, open it, jump in and close it before the red light turned green for galloping oncoming traffic.

Pulling out into a pause in traffic with a sedan was another heart-stopper. I noticed most of the other cars parked there that day were SUVs. Try pulling out into parking-lot thick traffic filled with frustrated, angry drivers. One furious driver, just before I snapped the photo below, took off in the bike lane instead of waiting for someone to let him into First Avenue. He broke into traffic with the light, ahead of the cars waiting to enter the avenue on 50th Street. Clever perhaps but God help any pedestrian or bicyclist in his way. I don’t recommend this solution.

Have you noticed other resourceful ways city dwellers in New York or elsewhere have made creative use of what’s around them? Do you have suggestions for how to use these floating parking spots in safe ways?

 

From the right, bike lane, parking lane and First Avenue morning traffic

From the right, bike lane, parking lane and First Avenue morning traffic

Service of Handlers Mishandling with Potentially Devastating Results

September 8th, 2016

Categories: Expectations, Speaking, Special Events

Hillary and handlers

I heard about Hillary Clinton’s four minute coughing jag when she was addressing a rally in Cleveland recently. Tyler Durden wrote on zerohedge.com: “She coughed and cleared her throat through over 4 minutes of almost incoherent babble before MSNBC cut away, joking that hillary had quipped ‘every time I think about Trump I get allergic.’”

Hillary coughingI’ve run countless events and I write speeches for clients so that while her political opponents were predicting her demise, her health was the last thing on my mind. [If her voice didn't give out after the grueling year she's had; the number of speeches she's given and the way she projects her voice at loudest pitch, I'd wonder.]

Huma AbedinSo what did I think of? “Where was Huma?” [Hillary's campaign's vice chairman, photo left.] “How could her handlers or hosts not jump into action after 45 seconds of sputtering, certainly well before 240 seconds?”

If there was no plan for this possibility [bad move No. 1 for the event planners], an official campaign associate known to the secret service should have warned an agent that they were about to hop on stage to rescue Hillary. Then the person would make light of the cough while either asking the musicians to strike up the band or the host to come back to the mic to regale the crowd so as to give Hillary a chance to recover, sip hot tea with lemon, until the jag passed.

Hot tea, lemon, honeyI’ve had that kind of tickle and cough so deep in my chest that no number of Halls drops reaches or calms it. It happened once during a client meeting. He looked uncomfortable. Eventually it passed.

Where were Hillary’s troops? Why didn’t someone come to her rescue? Four minutes? Now come on! The Devil is in the details and because this one wasn’t handled correctly, the candidate’s opponents have something else to harp on. Can you think of other instances where a seemingly benign oversight with countless simple solutions can give an adversary the upper hand?

 Venos cough cure

 

Service of What You Might Get For Your Birthday

September 6th, 2016

Categories: Gifts, Retail

 

POLaRT furniture

POLaRT furniture

I visited NY Now recently—formerly the NY International Gift Fair—to report on the kind of present you might receive on your next birthday or anniversary, especially if you like to entertain. As always I caution that my observations are impacted by the fact that I saw only a fraction of the summer market at the Javits Center.

I hope you like shiny things because I saw a lot of highly polished stainless steel, copper, platinum and some gold and silver tableware. In fact sparkling aluminum was prominent. In addition, there were plenty of nods to the past.

Arthur Court Designs

Arthur Court Designs

Here are a few examples that reflect the show-stopping SHINY TREND:

Aluminum

  • Arthur Court Designs exhibited gleaming sand-cast aluminum platters, serving trays, bowls and beverage servers.
  • Beatriz Ball

    Beatriz Ball

    Julia Knight’s website explains that her collections are “handmade of sand cast aluminum with a signature blend of enamel infused with crushed mother of pearl.”

  • No wonder Beatriz Ball’s bowls and ice buckets, platters and spreaders, wine coasters, frames pitchers and trays shine as they do: They undergo four levels of polishing. The pieces are handmade in Mexico of “molten aluminum poured into sand molds.”

Stainless Steel

  • Mary Jurek Designs

    Mary Jurek Designs

    It was hard to identify the medium just by looking at the exquisite tableware and serveware in Mary Jurek Design’s booth. Could it be silver? Turns out to be hand-hammered stainless steel.

Touch of Gold

  • Yedi HousewaresSome of Yedi Houseware’s porcelain coffee cups—in shapes reminiscent of the 1940s—were dressed in contemporary colors and dipped in gold like a hallmark Dairy Queen is immersed in chocolate [photo left]. Yedi’s traditional silhouettes featured gold rims.
  • Annie Glass enhanced the edges of some pieces in gold.

Precious metals

  • Cannes Fayet

    Cannes Fayet

    Shining silver handles on the canes of Cannes Fayet from France winked at passersby.

  • Also from the République Française I saw Design Sophie Villepique Paris’s decorative elements with dashes of silver, gold, platinum as well as gemstones and Swarovski crystals.

Some of you are going to say about the items that were UNUSUAL AND NEW TO ME, “Why that’s been around forever….” I’m not shy in revealing my ignorance: I call out below the glass ginger jars filled with fruit in brilliant colors that fooled me—I didn’t know they were candles—and they’ve been made in the USA for 22 years!

  • Lifetime Candles by White River Designs

    Lifetime Candles by White River Designs

    If I hadn’t overheard another visitor exclaim, “These are candles?!” I wouldn’t have known this about Lifetime Candles by White River Designs’ cylindrical and ginger shaped glass jars and perfume bottles filled with everything from brightly colored fruit and branches to pinecones, butterflies and flowers suspended artfully in clear lamp oil. Headquartered in Harrison, Ark. the company has been around since 1994. [At the booth, the candles weren't lit yet the magnificent jars nevertheless caught my eye.]

  • Tote & Able

    Tote & Able

    Tote & Able canvas flasks in the shape of foil juice pouches were unusual and curious–useful too.

  • Uashmama [pronounced wash mama] washable, resilient, stretched and tanned paper that looks/feels like leather is transformed into lunch bags, traditional looking paper bags,  purses wallets, trays and such.
  • I loved watching steam dance out of the Cado Japanese air purifier, which itself was handsomely designed and a far cry from the ugly look of cheap, plastic boxy humidifiers of yore. The steam hitting the air was almost as mesmerizing as staring at a waterfall.

    Uashmama

    Uashmama

  • Sarut’s rubber chicken handbag made me smile. I wonder if it was designed for those who attend countless $250+ per person industry lunches where the menu consists of…rubber chicken?
  • Martone Cycling Co.

    Martone Cycling Co.

    I was surprised to see a bicycle at this show. Martone Cycling Co. stood out both for this reason and for the featured bikes’ clean, vintage design and creative–for a bicycle–colors.

  • Furniture in primary hues at the POLaRT booth [photo at top] made me stop to touch the polymer pieces in Victorian and other historic shapes. The faux button tufting was especially clever.

Do you like adding shiny accents to a dining table or to your décor? Can you point to evidence that some manufacturers, in addition to those I identified, are reaching back for design inspiration not only in decorative elements but also in fashion?

CadoCado humidifier

Sarut

Sarut

 
Julia Knight Collection

Julia Knight Collection

 
 
 

Service of Not Letting Go Easily

September 1st, 2016

Categories: Aggressive sales, Customer Service, TV

Don't let go

I wasn’t going to post anything today. I had visions of everyone packing up for a long weekend. But something came up.

We’ve been using DIRECTTV to receive a television signal at our weekend place since the early 1990’s when a technician came to install a dish on the roof of our house upstate. The company has upgraded (made the service more expensive) over the years.

Recently it merged with AT&T and since then, we have been bombarded with ads touting their special “If you move take our service with you.”

Tuesday, when my husband Googled DIRECTTV to find out where to call to cancel Order cancelledour service, the only telephone number he could find on their website was the one to order the “If you move …” special. He called it and told the customer service man that we were selling our house and wanted to cancel, but were not moving to a new home and asked about next steps.

The man kept hammering away, “You must need service where you live or have a friend or relative who needs it. It would make the switch much easier for you.”

My husband explained that we live in New York City. You can’t stick dishes outside windows. Further, we don’t know anyone who needs service [nor do we have time to find someone—not our job]. All we want to do is cancel the service and move to our next chore. 

My husband asked if someone could come to the house and uninstall us and take the boxes. Someone came when we added a TV. He said he was sure that we were physically capable of doing the uninstalling and added “It would be much easier if you ordered a new service.” 

Eventually, after much haggling back and forth, he said “You’ll get a prepaid Fedex box with instructions as to what do.”

My husband asked: “What if we get electrocuted, getting your signal boxes detached?” 

He replied: “Turn the power off.”

My husband asked:  “What if we abandoned the equipment?”

He replied: “You can’t do that” and he read off a whole list of pricey penalties.

Husband: “Where can we drop off the signal boxes?”

Customer service: “You can’t, they must be FedExed to Memphis. We’ll send the shipping boxes to you in seven business days, but allow for two weeks.”

Husband: “But we will probably be out of the house by then.”

After a few more minutes of the same, my husband agreed that we would detach the DIRECTTV boxes, pack them, but not their wiring, and bring them to New York, where the company would send the prepaid FedEx boxes with the instructions as to how to detach them. Eventually, we will FedEx everything to Memphis.

My husband had the distinct impression that had we been ordering a new service somewhere else, someone would have come to uninstall us. Also, all of this hassle seems a bit silly since the equipment is so old that I can’t imagine it being of use to a soul.

The customer service rep was doing his job, trying to keep a customer, but he didn’t know when to stop even after my husband explained about restrictions to hanging dishes in NYC apartments. Further, what good to us are instructions sent after we’ve already disconnected the system?

special offersThe next day we got an email: “Give us a chance to make it right,” with special offers.

I can’t believe that we are the only customers to move to a place that doesn’t accommodate DIRECTTV and frankly, if they wanted us to be left with a good memory of them, should we subsequently move to a place with DIRECTTV as an option, they’ve lost us by complicating our lives now and making us jump through hoops to get rid of them.

This industry reflects extremes. When I returned a Time Warner Cable TV box almost two years ago, [we were changing to FIOS], nobody at the place said a word nor did they ask a question. That, too, surprised me.

Should a company train its customer service department when to stop pushing? Should they make it convenient for customers to discontinue service? Have you experienced similar inconvenience when trying to discontinue a service?

 Stop pushing

Service of Plan B

August 29th, 2016

Categories: Plan B, Planning Ahead, Research, Strategy, Studies

Photo: shiftonline.org

Photo: shiftonline.org

I’m a Plan B kind of person. If a project isn’t rolling out the way I’d like, I develop contingencies and options so as not to let an unanticipated glitch get in the way of a project’s success.

Turns out that most are like me and we’re all wrong, according to recent research reported in the Wall Street Journal by Rachel Emma Silverman. However, I’m not convinced by the experiment she cited that the conclusions are justified.

Silverman explained why you’re better off without a Plan B from findings published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. Jihae Shin, assistant professor of management and human resources at the University of Wisconsin’s business school and Katherine Milkman, a Wharton associate professor, co-authored the results of a series of studies.

participantsSilverman quotes Shin: “Simply contemplating backup plans make you want to achieve the primary goal less, which makes you put less effort into it. As a result, you have lower chances of success in your primary goal.”

The reporter described one of the experiments in which “participants were asked to unscramble sentences and told that if they performed well, they would receive a free snack.” Some were told they might not win a snack and to think of a backup plan of other ways to get free food on campus.

snacks“Researchers found that participants who were prompted to think of a backup plan to get free snacks did significantly worse on an assigned task than those who were simply told to do the task with no additional instructions.” The key word is prompted. That action skewed the results, in my opinion because the researchers distracted some and not others so they weren’t equally concentrating on unscrambling the sentences.

Silverman wrote: “When people anticipate that they’ll feel really bad if they don’t complete a task, they will work harder, Dr. Shin said. But if they have thought of a Plan B, they might feel more comfortable slacking off.”

I think that what is significant and relevant is the timing of when to think of additional strategies. You wouldn’t make a Plan B at the start and you might not do it at all if your plan is going well. Actually, in the next quote, Dr. Shin agreed with me, therefore watering down his theory: “You might first want to do everything you can to achieve your primary goal and really focus on that for a period of time, before you develop a detailed backup plan.”

While the research focused on individuals, Dr. Shin suggested that team leaders might want to have a second team develop a Plan B, leaving the first team to work on the project.

Wouldn’t having teams work at cross-purposes impact enthusiasm and morale? Do you start a project thinking of alternate strategies or do you follow a strategy you believe in before thinking of alternatives? Does the setup of the experiment seem flawed?

timing is everything

Service of Dónde? Où? Woher? Dove? Onde? Nerede? Gdzie? Translation: Where?

August 24th, 2016

Categories: Communications, English, Language, Transportation

 Taxi Tv show

I was born in Manhattan and have lived much of my life in New York City. There are miles of neighborhoods in the five boroughs I would have trouble finding in a car, GPS or no GPS. Tell me where you want to go in Russian, Polish, Arabic, Portuguese and most languages, other than French and English, and I’m lost.

Map of NYCSo apart from the fact that English has been the lingua franca in this country since its inception, does it make practical sense that speaking English is no longer a requirement of New York City cab drivers?

  • Should a Greek, Chinese or Arabic driver familiar with a different alphabet be asked to take a passenger to an address on Amsterdam Avenue, Broadway, Houston Street or Columbus Circle, for example, will he/she be able to read the street sign to know that they arrived?
  • What about the crucial direction in Manhattan“East” and “West?”

Stop sign in several languagesShould I invest in a street sign business in anticipation of a lineup of street names on every pole in the most used alphabets in addition to Roman? [I wonder if the English street name will remain at the top?]

No doubt I sound harsh but my dad came to this country in his 30s and had to learn English from scratch, which he did extremely well. He also wrote beautifully. [His charming accent was to die.] Millions of others have done the same. How many generations of newcomers were forced to learn English before they were eligible for certain jobs?

Years ago I met a laborer who lived and worked in New Jersey for 50 years and if he knew 50 English words, that was a lot. He spoke his native language with neighbors and colleagues at work and local shop owners too. But I wouldn’t recommend him for the job of taxi driver.

In order to work as a cab driver or in most jobs wouldn’t you want to learn Italian, French, German, Portuguese or Japanese if you moved to Italy, France, Germany, Brazil, Portugal or Japan?  Or even if you went there to live? What do you think of this new ruling?

 Bi lingual signs in Quimper

 

 

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