Is This Good Customer Service? You Be The Judge.

I have had most of my money in Coast Central Credit Union since I moved back here in ’93. At one time I had my mortgage with them too. Mostly they have been okay, okay enough that I stayed with them.  Today I am madder than the proverbial wet hen, and here’s why.

Over the weekend of March 8 I lost my checkbook. I rarely write checks and believe me I won’t be carrying that checkbook again without a specific purpose but in any event , it turned up missing and you know what happens when you report that to a bank. They tell you: Close the account so the villains out there can’t use your checks. We did so and I obediently opened a new account with Coast Central and they gave me a few checks to use until I got the new box. Meanwhile I had to notify EVERY ONE of the 14 parties I had authorized to take payments/debits about the new account number. I called or visited North Valley Bank, HCSD, PG&E, Suddenlink, State Farm, PayPal, three credit cards, Recology etc etc etc. It took a week.

Then I waited for my new checks. I had to go to CCCU and have some checks printed up  so I could pay Fullerton’s for my tax return. As of yesterday,  I was waiting a month for the new checks that were promised in two weeks. Finally I went over there and pressed the issue. The nice lady in New Accounts called the check company who told her the checks were LOST IN THE MAIL.  Who the hell mails blank checks through the USPS? Well, Coast Central does.  And it’s your tough luck if they don’t make it.  The nice lady was sympathetic but I HAD TO OPEN A THIRD CHECKING ACCOUNT, and I am in the middle of the second round of notifications to PG& E etc etc.  In an effort to stave off further disaster I told them to hold the checks at the CU and I would come pick them up. Again it seems to fall to me to be proactive.   

Why can’t they shave a few cents off Dean Christensen’s million-dollar salary and FED EX the checks? Boom! NO more “lost in the mail”.  I’ve really been thinking about Coast Central and how it really has been getting a free ride by  by being active in the community, as they shoud be.  Makes me think I should drop in on a board meeting or start a user’s group or something. Anybody with me?  

Jerry’s on Top; Padilla coming to town.

Jerry Brown’s job approval rating has climbed to a new high for his third term in the Governor’s office. (Some of you may not have been born yet during his first two terms.) The Field Poll dated April 9 shows 59 % of registered voters approve of his job perfomance. Of likely voters, Field showed 57% planning to vote for Brown, 17% for Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, 3% for Laguna Hills Mayor Andrew Blount, and 2% for businessman Neil Kashkari. Looks like Jerry’s got a lock.

If anybody can be said to have benefitted from the disgraceful antics of about-to-be-ex-Sen. Leland Yee, it would be his competition for the Secretary of State position (Leland was planning to run). Sen. Alex Padilla is currently the front-runner.The Field poll has a good analysis of that race here. And if you want to meet the Sen. Padilla up close and personal, the Humboldt Democrats are holding a meet ‘n’ greet with refreshments (RESERVATIONS REQUIRED) on Wednesday, April 16 at noon at the Labor Temple, 840 E Street, Eureka. Make your reservations at the HCDCC website by clicking on the “Meet N’ Greet” poster.  This may well fill up, so don’t delay. Maybe some of Alex’ good luck will rub off on you.

Have a great weekend! 

 

Newest Economic Index Shows Leap in Manufacturing

Dr. Eschker and his hardworking crew at HSU have added another dimension to their Humboldt Economic Index; a specific tracking of the manufacturing sector.  That sector, which will likely generate the sought-after high-paying jobs so badly needed to stabilize our Humboldt economy, increased its index by over 30% in the past year. This is huge and shows a very positive development even though not associated with an increase in employment. Enjoy the Index here and many thanks to those who worked  on it and the sponsors.

Have You Been Yelped?

Everybody loves Yelp, right? Yet there has been negative press about the San Francisco -based company and its methods. On April 3, the LA Times carried a piece by David Lazarus headlined “Yelp’s tactics feel “nefarious” and “fishy” , even if they’re legal.”

How did things get this bad? The theory has been put forth that because Yelp was founded in 2004 and has yet to make a profit, the stockholders are restive and the pressure is on to squeeze very possible dollar out of the company. An Alhambra jeweler who cancelled his Yelp ad reported that the Yelp salesperson advised him that now his competitors’ ads would appear alongside his  but that for $75 per month “she could make those ads go away”.

Along with extortion over ad placement Yelp has also been accused of demanding payment to remove malicious reviews and being less than cooperative in addressing false claims. You can get a basic Yelp listing for $75 a month but you have no say in what is posted next to your ad. Could be your competitor. If you want to banish the competitor from view, you’re looking at $300 a month in the major markets. It was San Francisco attorney Antone Johnson who described Yelp’s conduct as being  nefarious etc. “It doesn’t pass the smell test, ” he says “But I don’t see a statute that they’re actually violating.”

Yelp has been hauled into court for its practices but so far the courts have held that Yelp is shielded by the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which protects a website’s right to determine its own content. Sounds like a noble aim  but it’s doubtful that protecting practices like Yelp’s was what the enactors intended. 

I have been told by a couple of local merchants that Yelp is playing the same game up here. Have any of you done business with them? We’d love to hear your story.

(Note: I could not secure a link to the Lazarus story, nor, apparently could the Sac Bee.  It’s in the April 3 LA Times.)

“The Best of the North Coast” Redux

It’s that time of year again.  I just now noticed that the Times-Standard always posts it’s “Best” list on April Fool’s Day. Good move.

This year’s list didn’t have any major gaffes like last years (darn) which proclaimed the STILL unfinished Holiday Inn on Broadway in Eureka as one of the winners.  There were a few surprises. Porter Street BBQ won over Humboldt Smoke House, which surprised me, and I thought the Banana Hut was an excellent choice for Best Business Lunch- good food and you can walk to it from anywhere downtown. I don’t agree that Ramone’s is the best bakery although they’re certainly among the most expensive. I’m a Cherry Blossom fan, myself.

Hole-in-the-Wall, the Hunan in Henderson Center, Brick & Fire, and Bob’s Footlong’s (Fortuna) all got their props. Happy Donuts, next to the new VA office, won for Best Donuts, but they really should have won for “Best Cheap Lunch”.  They have a platter with three spring rolls with dipping sauce for $4.99 and if you don’t like cilantro you can call the night before and they’ll make you a cilantro-less version and set it aside for you. The donuts are pretty good, too.

I DO find it hard to believe that Shamus T Bone’s steaks beat out the AA’s. That will bear investigating.

But the prize for “Most Ironic” choice is The Works as favorite source for CD’s/Records/Tapes.  The beloved store has lost much of its business since the move to larger quarters on “C” Street and is in a precarious situation. So go down there and BUY something if you want your favorite to survive. Support ALL our local  businesses with your wallets, not just your admiration. Admiration don’t pay the bills.

No foolin’. 

The Man from Freshwater Farms

I met Rick Storre on two occasions. The first was when I visited Freshwater Farms to find a native-plant solution for my planter boxes that always looked like hell, stuffed with geraniums that never seemed to thrive. I entered the building and eventually a friendly man showed up. From the way he settled into his seat, I could tell this was going to be a long chat. It was. It was the kind of chat that takes place when one oldtime Humboldter encounters another.

We reviewed his parents and grandparents, and mine, and gossiped for an hour or so. It felt like being in Ireland, where purchases are never hurried. He suggested a certain type of huckleberry for my planters and I left with six of them.  Three died immediately  and I called him for advice. I went back to FF and he replaced them cheerily. Eventually I managed to kill all of them and went back to geraniums.

I must have passed by FF a thousand times since then, secure in the knowledge that there was a friendly and intelligent person within. Today I feel very empty inside. The house where the bodies were found is a few blocks from me and I feel violated. I lost an acqaintance. I can only imagine how his friends and family feel.

And I feel that I’m losing my town. I don’t recognize a Eureka where St Bernard’s Church is considered in a “bad neighborhood” or where people are murdered a short walk from my home. The people who are running for County or City offices had better have some ideas for change. Mental illness is perhaps the toughest issue facing our society and balancing the rights of the mentally ill with the rights of people like me who are supposedly sane is a conundrum for which all the answers are expensive. Necessary, but expensive.

All I know is that I feel empty. “And the sky is crying.”

Exceed Three Minutes? Go To Jail, or how to get through the GPU

I’ve been watching or attending the General Plan Update (GPU) meetings for what seems like a century and I’ve noticed that our citizens are pretty darn obedient when the bell tells them their time is up. Well, it ain’t that way everywhere, folks.

The other day in Saginaw, Michigan, where you can buy houses for $50K, they were having a township board meeting. (Actually a woman from Chicago bought a house there on Craig’s List for $5, paid $1K in back taxes and there you go- a house and lot for $1005. Not a livable house, but still…) A gentleman by the name of Mark Adams had several grievances he wished to discuss and three minutes just wasn’t long enough. Mr Adams had a friend taking video and here it is.

Mr Adams, who I suspect has had a number of issues with Township governance, complained as he was being removed that it was his birthday, was nonetheless arraigned later on on a felony charge of resisting and obstructing a police officer and misdemeanor disturbing the peace. Seems a little harsh but then he hasn’t had his day in court yet. Bet that’ll be fun.

So let us be grateful that our citizens are reasonably cooperative with authority. If we have to use stronger measures  like a gong, or a hook like the old Amateur Hour, or perhaps replace that abstract sculpture with a giant egg timer, we have options.  But give a guy a break on his birthday, don’t you think?

 

“Plan for the Best, Prepare for the Worst”- Lessons from Loleta

The apparent closure of the Loleta Bakery raises questions that a lot of us may not have thought about since we took our first business classes. Whether we were schooled at Stanford or by the SBDC, the one principle that applies to all businesses is that you need to have a successorship plan. It doesn’t have to be a long document but it should make clear what happens  if one of the partners or family members becomes incapacitated or has to leave the business. It’s a standard part of any business plan. and no lender will release funds without one.  One or even two illnesses shouldn’t shut down a business.

The chaos and confusion around the bakery’s closing leads me to conclude that there WAS no business plan.  Since it’s impossible to get financing without a business plan I have to conclude further that the owners were wealthy enough to open the business without third-party financing, and without a plan. Now 20 people are out of work and facing an uncertain future.

Loleta is not the only town to be invaded by outlanders with more money than sense. When they start businesses that thrive, it’s called investment. When they screw up, they cause a lot of grief to a lot of people. Here’s wishing the very best for the employees and the people of Loleta .

The other local closure, Big Louie’s in Eureka, has been free of the drama seen in Loleta. Harold Lawrence has been an exemplary corporate citizen, supportive of community causes and youth sports. I wish him the best, and really hope the franchise will reopen. Meanwhile, when you open your business, think ahead to the time when you may be incapacitated or worse. Your family and your employees deserve better than to be left drifting.  A lot better.