business news in context, analysis with attitude

Regarding Amazon’s new patent on a system that could use buses to deliver orders, MNB reader Chris Weisert wrote:

Smart. Think about bus riders that can eliminate a stop, having their purchases on the bus they ride home. They don’t have to shop, hassle with finding a seat for themselves and their packages. Simply ride the bus home as they do today and take their groceries inside when they arrive.

Responding to our piece about business lessons from the John Wanamaker department store company, MNB reader Peter Talbott wrote:

I was a trainee and assistant buyer at John Wanamaker’s 12 floor grand department store in Philadelphia few decades ago.  My department was TV and video, where we sold TV consoles in many beautiful finishes including french provincial (because a TV was furniture), stereos by Fisher, LP records, and a new product called a VCR which cost $749, as well as a Betamax for $999 which the salesmen preferred because the commissions were higher.

We were adjacent to the expansive  piano department where each week I could hear the blind piano tuner at work.  Behind the piano dept was John Wanamaker’s perfectly preserved original executive office, which was the highlight of the store tour for generations of employees and tourists alike. Mr. Wanamaker was what we now call a ‘disruptor’ with a long line of retail innovations including the price tag and the money-back guarantee.  After his department store career, he became Postmaster General of the United States.  Quite a guy.

MNB reader Jon Townsend wanted to share a recent customer service experience:

My DISH satellite box lost its signal. After 45 minutes on the phone with tech support they decided I needed a tech on site. The nice young lady said I would be charged $95.00 for the service call. I asked her to pause, then I asked her to explain to me why. I said that I rent the receiver from DISH (because you cannot buy them) I pay for the signal along with the receiver  rental. I asked her to confirm that I indeed did not own the receiver that DISH still owns it. So I asked for clarification on the fact that they cannot send me a signal to the receiver they own, so they must fix it, but are going to charge me. How in the hell do they get away with this? It is like renting a hotel room, air conditioner quits working, their maintenance fixes it, and then charges you for the repair. Pretty good gimmick if you ask me. Should  be against the law.

Responding to my several commentaries in favor of a traditional liberal arts education in which even people who study business or science are required to take Humanities courses such as English and History, MNB reader Dave Wiles wrote:

Some studies in the Humanities is fine. We need a well rounded student to advance to the real world. The problem, as I see it, is that there are far too many students matching their studies to ineffective (in work life) majors. "Advanced Underwater Basketweaving" may be a fun topic but where is the job, in their future, to make a living?

People love to use examples such as "Advanced Underwater Basketweaving” or “Eskimo Poetry” or “Esperanto” as examples of useless courses … but I wonder how many people actually study such things. I’m talking about studying history, civics, Shakespeare, etc…
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