business news in context, analysis with attitude

We had a discussion last week about the Supreme Court decision making it harder for many workers to sue their employers for discrimination in pay, insisting in a 5-to-4 decision on a tight time frame to file such cases and saying that employees have 180 days from the time their pay is set to file a formal complaint with a federal agency.

We thought that in the long run, this would be bad for business because it would breed distrust, and we said that the time limit seemed arbitrary. One MNB user responded:

The act says that any charge must be filed within 180 days. If one believes it should be longer, the Legislative branch can rewrite the law. It's not a matter of being "pro business", the courts job is to make sure the law is being applied as it was intended. They did their job. Some left wingers have gotten so used to the court legislating from the bench, they think that's the way it's supposed to function.

Three things here…

One, it is our understanding that the Supreme Court decision established when the 180-day period begins…and essentially made it as early as possible, which makes it tough or virtually impossible for employees to meet the established standard.

Two, there were at least four Supreme Court justices who disagreed with the ruling…it was a tight 5-4 decision.

Three, we don’t think one has to be a "left winger" to question the wisdom of the decision. (Geez, last week somebody was calling us a 'pinko commie," and this week someone else is referring to us as a "left winger." Yikes!) Justices Ginsburg, Stevens, Souter and Breyer dissented. While Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer were named to the court by President Clinton, Justice John Paul Stevens was nominated to the court by President Ford. And Justice David Souter was named by President George Herbert Walker Bush.



We had a story on Friday about the annual rating of online retailers and web-based shopping experiences by ForeSee Results, in which it reported that Netflix.com, QVC.com and Amazon.com do the best job of satisfying their customers. Other high-ranking sites included Apple.com and LLBean.com.

MNB user Lisa Malmarowski wrote:

Guys must have put this list together or Zappos would have made a top stop on the web! I mean, they are so fast, that when you absolutely positively NEED those shoes the next day, there they are... and often w/ free shipping.

Actually, there is only one guy to blame for this omission. The Content Guy. Because Zappos did make the list, and we neglected to mention it…in part because it was a site we were not familiar with. Our apologies.



Regarding some of the troubles being encountered by Canadian doughnut and coffee chain Tim Hortons in the US, MNB user Peter D. Rinck wrote:

Love the brand and actually know some of the people there. However, the support through broadcast is not effective. The ads simply don’t communicate to US consumers on any level, from strategy to tactical execution.

Last year, TH ran an ad showing a funeral procession going through the drive-through. The V/O stated that one Canadian so loved his TH coffee that his funeral stopped by in honor of his daily tradition.

With the sound low and marginal attention due to kids getting ready for school, dogs barking, etc, the brand message sort of, you know, died. Unlike Dunkin ads, which are so compelling, even the teenagers stop talking.

Given how clean the TH stores are, how nice the TH employees are, and the food is pretty good too, this is a case where the marketing is not pulling its weight.


We've never seen that TH ad, but it strikes us as pretty funny. And it gives us an idea for our funeral…and it has to do with the nearest Starbucks drive-through.



Regarding whether Wal-Mart could be ripe for attack because it sources so much product from outside the US, one MNB user wrote:

I’m not sure if many people care about this any more. The rise of Toyota and other non US car and truck makers in North America seems to say that American are more interested in good value than place of origin. Wal-Mart doesn’t seem to make much out of this any more and I assume that most Wal-Mart shoppers figure the stuff is made overseas or it wouldn’t be so cheap. Sounds like the “Wake up” people haven’t got much traction with the expanded benefits gambit so they’re going to give something else a try.




Our MNB Radio commentary last week concerned a terrific consortium of independent retailers in California called Raise The Bar…which prompted MNB user Randy Aszman to write:

Years ago I had the opportunity to play golf with the president of an upscale multiple independent in SoCal … I am sure he wouldn’t mind me using his name but for the sake of propriety I won’t. He told me of a similar consortium he belonged to that involved different independent retailers from around the country that operated and served many different formats and demographics. Every year, they would all travel to a participants marketing area, tour their stores, and then get together for a brutally honest critique. Sometimes this was received harshly, but mostly the member in focus used this info to better his operation. I found this to be fascinating and very forward thinking.

We agree.

Since last Thursday's commentary, we've gotten a number of emails from people asking us how to find out more about Raise The Bar. We've responded to most of those requests, but for those of you who did not write but are curious, here is the group's website: http://www.raise-the-bar.org/

Check them out.
KC's View: